Ok, so here we go into the belly of the beast so to speak. Grant Morrison’s run is at an end and I have not been more excited for any other run’s end. I must say however that this issue brought many things to a speeding close and others who have not yet been shown an end for seem to have little room in the next issue for a proper send off. With Chris Burnham’s issue #11 back in May we got a stand alone story in an awkward place and time, as a result a story which seemed to be dragging a bit now seems to be coming to a speeding halt.
Batman, now transformed into an enhanced Man-Bat swoops in on Talia with an army of Bats. She attempts to fend him off but to no avail. Batman has filled the bats with the antidote to the Man-Bat serum, rendering her augmented guards useless. Just as the Heretic puts on his jetpack Batman swoops in and begin to pummel him through the Gotham streets. On a rooftop he electrocutes him and begins to beat him down. Bruce has realized that while nothing human could defeat the Heretic, being a hybrid Man-Bat and the exoskeleton armor he had made him non-human, thus destroying Heretic’s invincibility. The fight is brutal as Heretic begins his offensive, we transition to Nightwing and Red Robin finding Jason Todd with the Spyral gang, Nightwing recognizes the woman who leads them as she convinces him to get Batman Incorporated to handle the elimination of the Oroborro bomb while her group deals with the “rest”. Knight and Nightwing travel downtown just in time to see Batman fighting with the Heretic. Batman pummels Heretic in front of the bus full of hypnotized Leviathan kids. Nightwing and Knight swoop down and smash Heretic’s helmet open as Nightwing pummeled him for his “friend”. Heretic is down and beaten, with his mask off Bruce approaches him and shouts at him for killing his son. Once Bruce sees the face under the mask he pushes him away in disgust. Heretic is revealed to Batman Inc as being a clone of Damian, something Damian pieced together but I believe was unable to share with the rest of the group before his death, Bruce of course did know but the reveal seemed to hit him hard when seeing his son’s face. Heretic exclaims that “sons are born to die in war” which prompts Knight to attempt to murder him, much to the surprise of Batman and Nightwing, Heretic runs away as the Nightwing reveals to Bruce Spyral’s plan which he seems to already know of. Bruce heads back to Wayne Manor as the rest of Batman Inc race to stop the bomb. Talia is confronted by an injured Heretic who yells at her, exclaiming that he is not tool for her to use. Talia promptly beheads her clone son and boards a helicopter as she detonates a bomb inside the Heretic’s spine as she utters “Let fall the house of Wayne”. Talia arrives at Wayne Manor and enters the Batcave where she finds Bruce in full Batsuit, she draws out her swords and exclaims that they shall fight to the death.
The overarching theme of the snake eating itself is ever present here. Talia heartlessly executes her cloned son just as she might as well have her true son. Damian’s sacrifice seems to be what drives Bruce to the edge here. He pummels the Heretic the way expert Injustice players pummel me and my skill lacking characters online; with ruthless combos that you cannot block for the life of me!. It was great to see Nightwing also driven by the sacrifice made by his younger brother and Knight’s reaction to seeing Heretic was to be expected. Even with all this I have to say that I’m a little disappointed at how things are being handled. Having the one month break really brought my level of excitement down, see this is the type of story that Trade paperbacks were made for. They are enthralling and giant in scope, the momentum must be kept alive so that you are flawlessly led to the epic ending. Instead it seems this issue rapidly puts pieces in the right place for the ending in an almost rushed manner. How does Bruce know of Spyral’s plans? we might never know (Bat-god is no reason!), The immediate destruction of Talia’s grand plan seemed to arrive way too speedily. Grant Morrison had also promised to close off ways of bringing Damian back and so far we have no such thing happen but a slight mention of Lazarus pits in issue #9. Overall I like the story when put together as a whole, it is huge in scope and feels very cinematic at times. However, the death of Damian has affected the Batman and Robin title, Grant owes that creative team and us an end already. I love that he thinks big but taking away a character so quickly and in a story that so obviously does not fit in current continuity diminishes much of the respect and anticipation I had for this story. I understand he’s a well-known writer and a genius on some level but this should not earn him “God status” from DC. If his decisions affect other writer’s stories he should have let them know ahead of time instead of being what amounts to secretive with his work knowing full well that other creatives are using those certain characters. I love this story but after this is done, what happens next? how does DC go on from here? taking Batman back to square one is not progression, it’s regression no matter how you look at it. Damian’s death was handled well enough in this title (but far too brutal), but killing off Robin and the effects that has on Bruce has already been seen. We are merely treading on old waters after this and I personally am not looking forward to repetition, with no Grant Morrison to mold a progressed Batman that’s exactly what we’ll get from other writers for the coming years.
FINAL GRADE: 8/10