Well, I think I can safely say this is one of the best issues of any book from DC this year. I have to admit though, it took some time for me to really get excited about this book again. This issue seems to hit the right notes at the right times for me, especially on the role that Alfred plays. A lot of my complaints on this book post Damian’s death have been about it’s seemingly loss of direction. With Batman Inc ended, I believe this book can get back on track and truly serve up the story it’s been waiting to tell for the last six months or so.
I can write all day about why I strongly loved the character of Damian Wayne, but this, along with the annual, and #18 issues have done just that in much fewer words than I ever could. It’s not an easy thing to adjust to this book after his death and I still don’t agree with disposing of him, heck I can say I’m willing to accept a cheap resurrection stunt just to have him back. But I have faith in the Tomasi/Gleason team to bring about new and great stories I may once again get excited for. After all, Tomasi has talked the big talk with this “uber” story he keeps bringing up in interviews.
We start by seeing a retelling of Batman Inc #8 done in the style of the fantastic Patrick Gleason art. Damian dies and Batman seemingly blows up himself and Heretic with a bomb. Turns out, this was all a simulation using Internet 3.0 (I believe it’s another Batman Inc reference) that Bruce was using over and over again to see if there was any way he could have saved his son that fateful day. Bruce continuously fails his attempts and Alfred and Dick Grayson arrive at the cave. Alfred wants Dick Grayson to get Bruce off of the machine but Instead of getting Bruce away from the machine he decides to join him. They both undertake the simulation and this time successfully save Damian but it took killing the Heretic to do it, Bruce states at the hologram version of his dead son before signing off the machine. Dick tells Bruce that he has to make something good out of the death of Damian. Bruce says he will but It doesn’t mean he accepts the death of his son. Dick agrees, telling him it is all anyone can expect from a father who had to bury his son. Alfred, once alone in the cave, tries the simulation for himself. The simulation begins at the cave the day of Damian’s death and Leviathans attack. Damian has hacked the security systems and is preparing to head out to battle. Alfred seems compliant and compliments the boy. Damian asks Alfred to care for his pets ala INC#8 and Alfred then stuns Damian with a sleeper agent with a well disguised pat on the back. Alfred then carries the sleeping boy to the cave table and tells him that he’s also very proud of him just as his father is. He the. Reveals that he’ll never be able to forgive himself for letting him leave the cave that night. Bruce finds Alfred on the simulation just as he’s wrapped up. Alfred cries into Bruce’s embrace and he cries out that he’s sorry. Bruce says he is the one who should be sorry for not realizing how much pain Alfred had been in.
The death of a character is always tough on a creative team. Your work is either the better for it or not. I’ve heard a lot of talk about how death is meaningless in comics because characters are eventually brought back. Nevertheless, the effects of the death stay, if even temporary, for the sake of follow up stories. Whether you agree or not on the weight of any death in comics holding, you can’t argue with the fact that it was at one point an end and it caused a ripple, great stories and sometimes even the birth of great characters. While I can honestly say that I do not look forward to having anyone other then Damian in the role of Robin, I do also acknowledge that it’s a seemingly inevitable event. Someday there will be a new Robin, history seems to say so, and looking forward I hope a character of the same level of greatness dons the cape and mask someday if that is the case. With Batman Inc over and done with, the end has left the possibility of Damian and Talia to return in some fashion. I do have to say that I’m very interested in getting them back somehow, but I don’t want them to bring back Damian as some aged up Jason Todd repeat. I’d rather they bring him back still as a kid, why? because it’s part of his character, and charm. To be honest, he was refreshing to a comic industry that has been desperate to produce a home run character. My belief is that his character was the best one created by DC or Marvel in the last decade or so. In finality, I wish to see him back soon, changed ever so slightly in terms of appearance, and ever the snarky, angry kid who so quickly won over a fan base that still stands strong months after his death.
FINAL GRADE: 9.5/10