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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that Damian Wayne is a little turdburger.   -Jane Austen

Not gonna lie, I hated the idea of Damian Wayne at first.  What it boiled down to, I think, was the idea of Batman being a dad just not sitting right with me for some reason.

Needless to say, I got over it.  Sure, he’s a snotty little punk who needs to be taken down a peg or twelve, but for some reason he’s a remarkably endearing character.  Maybe it’s his penchant for acquiring pets, I don’t know, but I actually like the kid as Robin now.

Pre-Flashpoint Tim is still the best Robin, of course, but that’s neither here nor there.

What is both here and there is Damian, who pops up this issue in one of this series’ most surprising moments.  And at this point, I think that’s Tynion’s biggest strength with the book: he’s moving the plot along and introducing new characters and developments organically, making sense with the narrative and preventing it from feeling overstuffed.

Most of this issue takes place in the Batcave, but not once does it drag or feel claustrophobic.  After an opening scene with Commissioner Gordon atop the Gotham Police Department wherein Leonardo starts to feel the effects of the mutagen in his body wearing off, Damian interrupts Michaelangelo and Donatello’s Batcomputer gaming session (amazing) and summarily bests them in combat.

Not gonna lie, it’s pretty great.

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The biggest surprise of this book has been how much personality each character has, even those who haven’t received much of the spotlight: Batman is driven and focused without being dour or a jerk; Raphael is dour and a jerk until he connects with Batman on a personal level; Donatello does machines; and Michaelangelo is, naturally, the Maps Mizoguchi of the Turtles’ universe.

Or perhaps more accurately Maps is the Michaelangelo of Gotham Academy.
Or perhaps more accurately Maps is the Michaelangelo of Gotham Academy.

Not an awful lot happens this issue, but everything still feels like it matters, both by building off the existing plot threads and foreshadowing things to come in the climax.

Like a sweet new Batman toy.

No no, it's fine Bats. We don't need to see some armor/robot thing that is no doubt both ridiculous and ridiculously awesome.
No no, it’s fine Bats. We don’t need to see some armor/robot thing that is no doubt both ridiculous and ridiculously awesome.

Remember the Tumbler’s “Intimidation” mode in The Dark Knight?  I hope that’s all that thing does: fire rockets randomly and rev an engine.

Casey Jones reveals that the “slingshot” device that transported him across universes has a one-time use to get everyone home, lest they have to wait weeks for another chance.  By that time, the Turtles will have reverted back to simple turtles, rendering Casey’s trip almost pointless.  I really liked this scene, especially Casey’s logic and reasoning behind going home now instead of beating Shredder first: there are plenty of people there who could take him on, so why not just strand him there and fight Krang with one less obstacle?

Splinter’s reason for not going back is pretty flimsy, but it’s not quite a deal breaker.  It also leads to this, which is just adorable:

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I’m glad that Robin and Casey were brought into the fold, as I’ve lamented before how drab some of the color scheme of this book has been.  Along with the Turtles, they add a pop of color to the pages, contrasting the blacks, grays, and earth-tones of the environments.  In fact, other than a few weird proportions, this is some of the most stunning visual work this book has had so far, rivaling that gorgeous “watercolor scroll” scene from a few issues back.

Love the light effect from the Batsignal.
Love the light effect from the Batsignal.

It’s the final page that’s the most stunning, though.  You should really see it for yourself, as it actually surprised me, but I’ll discuss it in tags below.

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[caption id="attachment_28715" align="alignnone" width="640"]I'm kind of disappointed Scarface didn't mutate too, honestly... I’m kind of disappointed Scarface didn’t mutate too, honestly…[/caption]

Guys.

Mr. Freeze is a polar bear.  Bane is an elephant.  The Riddler is a raccoon.

I was concerned that Shredder’s plan was to mutate the Arkham inmates into monstrous creatures to fight Batman, but no.  This is the cutest threat I’ve ever seen and I love how ridiculous this has become.  It is so dumb and that’s all I want it to be.

This page looks great, with gorgeous colors and genuinely clever transformations for a few of the rogues, and while I’m not sure how a big bunny hare could be a threat to Batman, this twist just ramps up the fun.

Narratively speaking, this series has been a genuine delight and a real surprise, telling a compelling story that draws on nostalgia without using it as a crutch.  With this being the penultimate chapter, I can say that I am genuinely excited to see how the series ends.

BONUS: Another month, another cool variant from Kevin Eastman.  

Spoiler
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Recommended if:

  • You like Batman.
  • And the Ninja Turtles.
  • And Damian Wayne, because why not?
  • Sadly, despite the promise on the cover, the Creeper does not make an appearance, so Jack Ryder fans will be disappointed.
  • You just want a fun comic book.

Overall: Pure, joyous fun, through and through.  Seeing your favorite properties cross over is at least always interesting, and when they’re handled with depth and heart like they are here it makes for rewarding reading.  Batman fans, Robin fans, Ninja Turtle fans, and comic fans in general will all find something to like with this book.  The plot is creative and exciting, and each element and character included feels important and added in organically, and the illustrations are getting stronger with each passing issue.  Bring on the final showdown.

SCORE: 8.5/10