I can’t help but think of Batman: The Animated Series when I see that Gleason cover. Next month we’ll be treated to another Bruce Timm-inspired cover as well. In fact, this series as a whole has a similar feel to it that BTAS had; where, at times, it’s light-hearted and at others it’s very serious. It’s an enduring quality. This issue displays some of that good ‘ole camaraderie you can’t find in strictly serious material all the while staying true to the very serious goal of resurrecting a fallen son. I enjoyed this issue and perhaps you did/will too. I’d be curious of what you think about it in the comments below.
Now, I don’t want to spoil the reveal at the end of the last issue, so first go check that out. This issue picks up on the very spot the last one left us. Bruce has assembled Batgirl, Red Robin, and Red Hood in the batcave. There’s quite a bit of referencing to past New 52 events and even things that happened just a few issues ago. It serves a similar place as the Andy Kubert montage near the beginning of Robin Rises Omega, getting everyone on track and feeling a sense of cohesiveness to Bruce’s story. There is a good back-and-forth between Bruce and his former partners. They express frustration and angst while he shows unquestioned leadership.
A point must be made about the artwork. There is only so much one can do to make thirteen pages of people essentially just standing around talking look visually interesting. Patrick Gleason has a particular “style” when it comes to faces and expressions that some like and others don’t. For all that could be questioned in that department, Gleason succeeds in making those first thirteen straight pages of talking not seem like thirteen pages of talking. This couldn’t be possible without the material Tomasi provides that really perked my interest. Now about that material. Bruce has three goals in bringing together his old partners.
- Tell them he is sorry. He’s going to be honest in the future (referencing the whole Death of the Family thing in Batman). “From here on out–good or bad–the truth rules.” And again, “I promise that nothing gets held back.”
- Tell them he’s going to Apokolips and they have to watch over Gotham. He recounts his travels during the past issues of Batman and Robin. Alfred is always good to have food. Good ‘ole Alfred. He’s pretty awesome.
- SpoilerLie. He freaking lies straight to their faces. “Nothing gets held back.” I’m ashamed I didn’t recognize the outright lie until Dick shows up in the cave. “Oh yeah, he’s still alive and Bruce withheld that from them!” It’s good to see Dick and Bruce talk, though I’m not sure of the logistics of their meeting. Spyral surely is watching Dick. They have to communicate through a secret radio in the pages of Grayson, but here he can just waltz up in the batcave. Bruce tells Dick to take his cowl should anything happen on Apokolips. I really enjoyed Dick as Batman a few years back, and if it happened again I can’t say I’d be upset. Bruce also uses Dick’s Spyral connections to distract the Justice League while he can get the Hellbat suit. It’s interesting that he doesn’t consider Superman as someone who might prevent his getting the suit.
After his meeting Bruce is off to take care of some business. Luthor and Bruce meet and there is some interesting discussion between the two of them.
- You’re following the Robin Rises.
- You liked the Hellbat suit.
- You wanted to find out what role your favorite Bat-characters will play while Bruce is gone to Apokolips.
It’s a talkative issue, but one that’s interesting nonetheless. The interactions between some of our favorite characters are handled well here. For all the other comics out there that seem to never go anywhere, this issue furthers a good story at a decent pace. Because of our love of the characters, it draws us in. The hype is building, and I like it thus far.