Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils by Patrick Gleason
Inks by Mick Gray
Colors by John Kalisz
Published by DC Comics
Bruce continues the vigil for his son as a team-up with Catwoman takes center stage in issue 22. Along with the master thief, we see a little more of Carrie Kelley, Alfred and Titus, and how each are dealing with the absence of their favorite ten-year-old.
Tomasi is the master of emotion and subtly throwing in details. I always love the sensation I get when reading his work and getting blindsided by deep feelings that I think came out of nowhere, but re-reading the issue I see little jabs of it here and there beforehand. Nothing ever seems out of place or too rushed. One such example would be the end of the scene with Carrie at the manor, when Alfred mentions how much Titus loves having “youthful exuberance” around and, turning away, Bruce says, “Didn’t we all.” It was a somewhat happy scene for five pages, and then rips your heartstrings out in one panel and suddenly transition to two pages of absolute sadness. That’s a kind of magic not a lot those in the comics industry can pull off. Tomasi does it repeatedly and at an expert level.
I will be the first to tell you I don’t know much about Catwoman, and even less about her in the New52, but I absolutely loved her in this story. Her and Batman’s banter was very reminiscent of the Dynamic Duo 2.0 that everyone adored three years ago. I really enjoyed how she was characterized, in that there was no question that the endgame was to get the little girl safe, but could easily take a step back and let Batman be the leader, or move up and take control, depending on the situation.
I will be entirely honest, to me, Pat Gleason IS this title. I just can’t associate any other artist with it, and I’ve never realized how much I wanted a scruffy, five-o’clock-shadow Batman until Gleason made it. I love how he draws Carrie, and I love his little details with Titus. The layout of the page where Bruce goes out to Damian’s grave, and how Titus moves in each panel, is so mind-blowingly simple and yet conveys every bit of sadness this family is feeling, its utterly amazing. The next page, where Bruce is sitting and listening to Robin’s old com-link is equally mystifying. For a non-moving image, you can feel the anger and misery rolling off Bruce in waves. Like I said about Tomasi’s writing, that’s a magic not everyone can pull off, but Gleason makes it seem like it’s the easiest thing in the world.
If the ending of this issue is any indication, then there may be a light at the end of the tunnel for Bruce and his sadness. Tomasi and Gleason continue to make readers reach for some tissues on a monthly basis, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The last issue of this Stages of Grief storyline is to feature Nightwing, and I’ve never been more excited and anxious for a comic book in my life. I expect tears, lots and lots of tears.
4.5 out of 5 nerds