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When we last saw our heroes, they were being audibly assaulted by The Spoiler.  Has she snapped?  What turn of events could have possibly propelled her to such deplorable doings?   Why has she joined The Victim Syndicate in their crippling crusade against Batman?  Or, is something else afoot?

We pick up exactly where we left off, with Spoiler looming over the bewildered BatFamily, and I think a lot of people are bound to have an unfavorable attitude towards the opening of the finale.  Why is that you ask?  Well…Stephanie manages to defeat the entire Batfamily (excluding Batman) in 3 pages.  “WHAT?!?”, I hear you collectively yelling in unison.  Calm down, calm down.  It’s not as crazy as it sounds.  When you get down to it, it’s actually more like Tim and Batman are taking them down, since Steph is just using stuff that they created.  And now I hear all the Steph fans getting their tomatoes ready to pelt me, “What, you don’t think Steph is good enough to take out the BatFamily?!”  Actually, I think it shows just how sharp her mind really is.  Not saying she is the mental equivalent of Tim or Barbara, but she had tools at her disposal and knew how to best use them.  That’s resourceful.  If it had been all her, I’d have called shenanigans.  But seeing her troubleshooting in this way was nice.

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I wonder if Clayface will have anything to say about this.  If there’s anything I’ve learned from comics and movies, it’s that people always act negatively when they find out that you’ve been secretly planning behind their back to destroy them.

I will say that I’m not sure it was entirely helpful for Stephanie to get all snarky with Batwing and Batwoman.  I mean, is she there to mock them or make the world a better place?  But hey, that’s just the way she is, right?  Speaking of which:

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How awesome is that exchange?  That simply couldn’t be any more Stephanie if they tried.

Anyway, like I said above, Steph doesn’t take out Batman.  She’s just there to talk with him.  At this point in the story, it becomes clear what Steph is actually up to.  She isn’t there to join the villains, but she’s also not there to help our heroes.  Basically, she just wants everyone to quit.  Every hero to hang up their cape and cowl and every villain to stop being a maniac.

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Bahahahaha.  Oh Batman.  You’re so awesome.

While her request is coming from the heart, it’s insanely naive.  If Batman were to quit, wouldn’t that just open the floodgates for crime and chaos.  For this to have any chance of working, it needs to be more than just unilateral.  Besides, it’s not like Batman being Batman is the sole reason for people suffering.  Aren’t they just as likely to continue to suffer, and maybe even suffer more-so, if there isn’t anyone to save them from those that are beyond the police’s ability to handle?

It’s true that some of Batman’s villains rejoice in the cat and mouse game that they share with the Dark Knight, but that’s not true of all of them.  If there had never been a Batman, some of his villains would still have come into existence and been just as destructive.  Without Batman around to intercede in their havoc causing excursions, Gotham would be an even more hopeless place than it already is.

In some ways I feel like what Steph is asking for is World Peace/a perfect Utopia.  If achieving it were as easy as just asking for it, wouldn’t we already be there as a species?  While I don’t think Stephanie’s argument holds a lot of reasonable weight, I don’t consider that to be an example of poor writing on Tynion’s part.  On the contrary, it seems to me that it was an intentional choice for it to be flawed.  Had it not been, we wouldn’t have had a valid reason for siding with Batman.

While these two are debating their conflicting ideologies, Steph threatens to reveal everybody’s secret identities if they don’t all give in to her demands.  I kind of felt like this was the one weak point in the story. 

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When it’s all going down, it seems like a real threat, but it’s later revealed that she was only bluffing.  It just killed any hint of risk because no matter what they had chosen to do, they were going to be safe either way.

Art for this issue is handled by Alvaro Martinez and I’m as happy as ever with his work.  Instead of going on forever about how clean his lines are, his attention to detail, the angles he chooses to use, and his interesting page layouts; I’ll just point out the one thing I think he could stand to work on.  the mouths on his characters look a little odd sometimes.  Sometimes they are completely fine, but on the occasions that they aren’t, I really notice them.  Ok. I know I said I’d forgo praise, but look at this:

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That layout is the bees knees!

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  • Sorry everybody.  The First Victim’s identity is never revealed.  At first I was a little disappointed.  But then I realized it really didn’t matter because who they were wasn’t as important as who they had become and what they were trying to do.

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  • Tynion sure knows how to bait that hook.  Just when you think you’re done….BAM!  Don’t forget about Tim!  You guys need to return to see what happens to him.  Some might say it’s just stringing us along, but I say Tynion is merely whetting our appetite for the main course.
  • Tim recognized something.
  • I…CAN’T…WAIT!

Odds and Ends:

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  • Yay!  Spoiler has her classic mask design back.  While there was nothing wrong with the ninja look she had been sporting recently, this just feels right because…you know…nostalgia.
  • I loved the fact that we got a reaction shot from Batwoman while Luke was telling his tale of inspiration.
  • I thought some of the plans that Tim had been hinting at over the course of Tynion’s run sounded like they would take the stories into some really great and pretty much unexplored territories.  I hope that we actually see Batman following through on his word and implementing some of them down the road.

Interesting Facts:

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  • “The Terror” is a reference to the first Clayface story from Detective Comics #40 (1940).  In the story, the studio is planning on remaking “The Terror” but Karlo has other plans.   He ends up sabotaging the film so that no other actor can upstage his original performance.  At this time in the character’s genesis, he had no powers.  Instead, he was merely called Clayface because of the clay mask he wore.
  • The evolution of all the Clayfaces and how their histories eventually intersect is actually pretty interesting, but that’s a story for another time as it would take up waaaaaay too much space to tell it in a simple interesting fact blurb.

Recommended if…

  • You’ve been loving Tynion’s strong focus on character.
  • You’re a big fan of Spoiler.

Overall:

Aside from some brief action at the front of the book, this is a very dialogue heavy issue, and that’s just fine by me.  Tynion is so amazingly gifted at simply letting these characters speak in their own voices that you’re practically begging for issues like this to come around so he can just do his thing.  Spoiler fans should also be pretty happy with this finale as we get to see some real “A” game material coming from her that’s pretty worthy of a Bat-disciple.  The finale ends up being fairly atypical of the genre because there is no conflict, per se, to overcome.  As such, I did find it lacked a certain level of risk that I have come to expect from comics, but in exchange it gave us a thinking man’s ending.  And once again, Tynion shines through the characters by allowing them to present varying points of view on the topic at hand.  And lest I forget…there’s a nice little tease at the end.

SCORE: 9 / 10