Just when this book starts to get back on track, after the mess that was “Joker War,” it turns out that this issue is also the penultimate chapter of Tomasi’s run on the title! It seems a little odd, because to me #1032 doesn’t feel like the penultimate issue of an arc, let alone an entire run. I did see Tomasi’s departure coming, but at the same time it feels like his run got cut short.

Hush is the main villain in this issue, and I don’t think the scenario that involves him is all that effective. In the previous issue we saw that he had kidnapped the entire Bat Family, save for Bruce and Damian. In this issue we find out what he wants to do with them. I’m not going to spoil the specifics, but I will say that I’m not feeling this scene. The threats that Hush makes toward the various Bat Family members may fit his characterization, but there is no doubt in my mind that everyone will be saved in the upcoming final chapter. Even if DC decides to try to shock us by having one or more of the family get hurt or worse, the point is still that, right now, I’m just not feeling any suspense. This type of torture scene is usually far more poignant when it involves characters who do not enjoy the privilege of Plot Armor. However, I do appreciate that Hush, on the surface, has a seemingly benevolent reason for torturing the Bat Family. While I still wonder what his true motives and goals are, this one element at least makes the situation a little more complex and interesting.

That said, somewhere in the middle of all of this I’m wondering what happened to Mirror. He was never a character that I found particularly interesting, but without any sort of follow-up to his fate in the previous issue, or any further exploration of the character at all, the character only appears to be relevant at strictly a plot level. Characters who function more like plot devices than actual characters tend to be forgettable, and with Hush’s sudden appearance, I’m slightly worried that Tomasi has been forced to rush his run’s conclusion (although I will withhold full judgment until I’ve actually read the next issue).

Furthermore, Bruce reunites with Damian. Although that’s something that I’ve been looking forward to for a while now, I find the actual reunion rather underwhelming. What happens is that Bruce discovers Damian’s hideout; Damian attacks and Bruce refuses to fight back; and a couple pages later we see them working together again. There’s barely any real interaction between the two of them. Sure, they shout and punch, but that’s boring! It’s nothing but a formulaic way to write yet another superhero team-up. Perhaps their true reconciliation will happen in Tomasi’s final chapter, but the speed at which this all comes to pass and the lackluster way in which it’s presented doesn’t exactly make me feel excited.

Then there is Nakano’s scene. He’s in the hospital, receiving a prosthetic eye. The main point of criticism that I have here is the way that Nakano ends up rejecting the eye. The doctor accidentally mentions that Bruce Wayne has paid for the eye, and somehow it’s only then that Nakano finds out about that. I wonder why he wasn’t told, or found out himself, before the operation. Moreover, if the doctor hadn’t said anything, Nakano wouldn’t have rejected the eye in that moment. It is also because of this incident that Nakano declares that he won’t be bought—but that’s something that we already knew based on Nakano’s encounter with Mirror in a previous chapter. The only new information that we get out of this is that Nakano has become uncomfortable with taking off his eye-patch, which functions like a mask for him and thus makes his situation a little bit more complicated, and we learn that he won’t have the rich control his decisions. While the former is an interesting character struggle that could have been explored more, the latter just isn’t as relevant. It’s so similar to his earlier statement that “he can’t be bought” that it feels very much like a repetition. It’s all rather contrived, to be honest.

The art is mostly fine, though. Walker doesn’t get too experimental with his layouts, which allows him to tell a clear, sequential story, even though the fight between Bruce and Damian is more of a montage with sequential elements than fully sequential. Still, the action is kinetic and as much as I dislike how the scene plays out narratively, the fight itself is fun to watch. Some of the shots are a little too close on the characters, which makes for a bit of a chaotic and messy fight scene seeing as we’re not always aware of where the characters are in relation to one another and the space that they’re in. But I like how they move from indoors to outdoors, which offers just enough aesthetic variation to keep things interesting.

The best drawn scene might be Nakano’s because, contrary to the opening scene with Hush and the Bat Family, this one actually looks realistic, with characters acting like human beings. The scene with Hush and the Family looks stiff, and the Family members don’t look as alarmed or serious as they should—their expressions are strangely hollow, in a way that doesn’t quite match the situation that they are in. But Nakano, his wife and the doctor ground this comic. We can see Nakano’s reluctance in his expression and body language. We see his wife being worried about him as he rejects the prosthesis. We see the doctor looking angry and stern when his patient starts to overreact. And that’s just the thing here, Nakano does overreact, but neither Tomasi nor Walker exaggerates this. I can picture someone acting the way Nakano does if they were under this much emotional, moral and political pressure.

Recommended if…

  • You want Bruce and Damian back together again, and you don’t care how.
  • You are determined to pick up Tomasi’s full run, even if this penultimate issue might be underwhelming to you.

Overall: This is by no means a bad comic, but it definitely feels rushed, as if this arc got cut short. Everything happens really fast and, even though Bruce reunites with Damian and the Bat Family is captured by Hush, it feels like nothing really happened at all. We jump from scene to scene without any smooth transitions, and Bruce and Damian’s reunion is underwhelming. I certainly wouldn’t recommend this issue by itself, but if you are a fan of Tomasi’s work and have been picking up Tec because of him, I don’t see why you should skip this one. It’s the penultimate issue of his entire run, after all.

Score: 6/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.