The fourth and (thankfully) final chapter of Andy Kubert’s Damian: Son of Batman answers none of the questions raised by the previous three installments, brings no resolution to the hunt for Dick Grayson’s killer, and has the audacity to set up a sequel, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t beautiful to look at.
- Was Bruce Wayne’s nurse really Harley Quinn?
- Was Jim Gordon the priest Damian confessed to? How/why did he leave the GCPD for the church?
- Who is this new Wannabe Joker?
- Is the talking cat a figment of Damian’s imagination or did Alfred’s soul really possess the feline?
- Who murdered Dick Grayson?
- Will Damian gain his father’s acceptance as the new Dark Knight?
Just answering half of these questions would’ve made for at least a halfway satisfying ending, but no. No, we don’t get any sort of closure besides Damian passing the no-kill test. Instead, most of the comic is devoted to Damian fighting Wannabe Joker’s henchmen, who are mostly gorillas. You’ll flip through page after page of very non-Damian-sounding narration as he wrestles with the question “To kill or not to kill?” all while a Joker knock-off mocks the Son of Batman from the corner. This baddie never has a weapon drawn on his hostage, nor is he ever out of reach so it’s not entirely clear why Damian saves him for last, perhaps just to make a better show for Alfred the cat, who is somehow able to view everything via a monitor in the batcave despite there being no cameras on the scene. While having a defenseless father being held hostage by this new incarnation of the Joker should have made for some nerve-wracking tension, I never found myself shifting toward the edge of my seat. After all, he was just another nameless thug out to make a name for himself paired up with even more nameless henchmen. What chance did they have?
After the lengthy fight sequence the comic hurries toward a conclusion that teases a possible sequel, acknowledges that Damian never did figure out what that fish-grenade from issue #1 was all about, and provides a closing scene in which– some spoilers here– “Batman” stops a rat/cat-person during a gas station robbery getaway. The worst part is that it’s played off like some sort of awesomely heroic moment for Damian when he was actually late. Way late! He let an innocent man die and a building explode (The owner of the gas station was probably still in the building!) before showing up and yet this final page is somehow supposed to count as a win. As if Gotham’s going to be just fine with this half-assed Batman as its guardian.
But the artwork? Delicious. The visuals are mostly comprised of stunning, highly detailed action sequences that are perfectly inked and colored on lovely matte paper. These pages would be some of the best I’ve seen this month if it wasn’t for the fact that the subject matter is so stupid. The idea of Andy Kubert drawing more Batman comics is a wonderful thing, but there needs to be substance there to make the images mean something and he simply doesn’t deliver as a writer. Yes, it’s a good-looking comic, but enough so that I can say that this is a good comic that’s worth buying? Absolutely not. I can only suggest it to people who adore Kubert’s pencils.
- You’re a tremendous fan of Andy Kubert’s artwork
If it wasn’t for the artwork I could easily disregard this entire mini-series as being totally awful. I’m grateful to see it finally come to an end.