Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils: Patrick Gleason
Inks: Mick Gray & Mark Irwin
Colors: John Kalisz
Published by: DC Comics
It’s no secret I was anticipating this issue for months, and I am overjoyed to say it didn’t disappoint. It was just as heartbreaking and comforting as I wanted and needed it to be. I’d been wondering how Dick was dealing with the death of his little brother since Nightwing #18, and while his section of this issue was powerful, dear old Alfred really stole the show.
There isn’t much more to Tomasi’s work I can say that I haven’t already. He was one of the best writers of Damian I’ve seen and did extremely well with the Stages of Grief storyline. The concept of this issue, however, was my absolute favorite, because it’s more than a bit thought provoking. After all, what COULD they have done differently to save Robin? In a way, the issue shows two things that make the whole situation even sadder: the fact that the whole simulation was based on the fact that they knew ahead of time that Damian was going to die, and that the only way to save him was to break their ‘no killing’ code.
My only gripe is that I wish this issue were longer. While Alfred’s bit was a huge punch in the heart, and Dick’s part was a bit uplifting, we all know that there’s a lot more to Dick Grayson in this situation. That was his partner, after all, and Nightwing was the one to deliver the killing blow in the simulation. That’s not something he’d do for just anybody. I would have really liked to go a little deeper into the connection and closeness the two characters had. That said, an argument could be made that Dick is just doing what he promised at Damian’s grave in the Nightwing issue, in that he’ll continue moving forward and fighting for the innocent.
And I can’t even say anything about the Alfred section of the issue. It still brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Over time, I had kind of forgotten that it was technically Alfred’s fault Damian was killed.
Gleason’s art was perfect. The whole art team did an amazing job on this issue, and you can really tell they put their hearts and souls into it, that they knew this one might be a little more than important to a lot of fans of the title, and characters. No knock to Chris Burnham, the original Batman Inc #8 artist, but Gleason, Gray, Irwin and John Kalisz did breathtaking work on the homage to that issue, to the point I might actually like it better than the original. Even after I read the issue multiple times, I found myself drifting back to the splash page of broken glass that surrounded the three panels of Damian’s final battle. For a few moments, I felt like it was a page that could have come straight out of Batman Inc itself. I even thought, just maybe, it was the same colorist too!
It’s probably a small detail, but I really liked how they did the Nightwing uniform, in that, between real time and the simulator, they actually changed it to what it was based on the time, having both the old and new one featured. That page of Nightwing impaling the Heretic was another favorite. It’s one of those awesome things in comics, to be ridiculously powerful in image, with no words needed. And that’s why the part of Alfred carrying the sleeping Damian away from danger causes you to reach for the tissues.
I’m still bitter and in complete mourning over Damian’s death, but this issue is exactly what I needed. It was full of heart and soul, and had that tiny bit of closure that makes everything okay for a little bit. For a title so focused on the emotions behind the Batman, it’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here, with one of the main elements of Bruce Wayne’s life out of the picture and most likely to be mentioned less down the road. I have complete faith in this creative team, though. They’ve rarely let me down this far. My lingering thought, though, is what happened to Alfred the cat and Bat-Cow?!
4.5 out of 5 nerds