Artist: Pat Gleason
I have really enjoyed this series, and although it's had it's ups and downs it's been a very fun series. This issue however isn't fun, as it shows the aftermath of Batman, Incorporated #8, and how Batman is dealing with his loss.
Batman is in morning after the death of his son, Damian Wayne. This silent issue shows how Damian's death has affected his father, whilst also showing some of Batman's memories of Damian.
This was probably the most emotional issue I have ever read, and by far the best silent issue I've read. It also ranks as one of my favourite issues in this series, along with Batman and Robin Annual #1. It's easy to forget just how much work a writer puts into some issues, as some comics are mainly picture orientated, with some being like this silent. I noticed a few years ago when I got a special edition of a silent(ish) issue that had the script at the back that writers do much more work, meticulousness describing each scene. Peter J. Tomasi has done a brilliant job with this silent issue, and the emotion just leaps out of the page. I do however think that it's an issue that will mean more to people who have been following this series, or read Batman Inc. #8, but it's still very touching. I personally don't get emotional whilst reading things, but it's the subtleties like this issue has that make me slightly emotional.
Patrick Gleason's done a marvelous job with the artwork, and this is probably the best art he's done in the series. Like Tomasi, Gleason has put a lot of emotion into his art, and it shows. You can feel all the emotion flowing through the characters, and if you hadn't already known that someone was dead then the whole demeanor of the story would tell you that this wasn't a fun story. The detail was also brilliant, and I loved that it emphasized on the space that Damian was leaving, as you see panels with Batman and Robin, then you see ones with Batman alone in a similar way. My favourite panel was where Batman looked in a window and noticed through the reflection that he was on his own, as that again emphasized Damian's absence. The other page I liked was the one that was a mirror of the cover, but with Damian along side Batman.
I've re-read this issue so many times to get the full emotion of it, and it's still hard to find the right focus points to talk about. I'll start with one of the ones that interested me the most, the constant absence of Damian. I already stated that Gleason did a good job of this is his art, but it really shows in the story also, as we see the family portrait, with Damian being the only member unfinished, Batman sliding down the Batpole, whilst remembering doing it with Damian, and the window reflection. The most powerful of these was between the Batpole sequence, and the portrait. They both really showed the absence, and although the window was my favourite panel these sequences showed more emotion. The panel near the start with Bruce looking at Damian's empty bed, with Damian's dog Titus next to it also gave a similar feel, and it added another form of emptiness. Another interesting question is: what will become of Damian's pet's? He owned a fair few, so I wonder what will happen. Although this probably won't be interesting it will be something I'll look out for.
It was also nice to see that Bruce wasn't the only one affected, as we see Alfred upset at one point. I can't imagine what Bruce himself is going through as he's not only lost a Robin, but his son. He'll also shoulder most of the blame as he will feel that it was his fault for letting Damian continue being Robin. At the same time however Alfred has been probably the biggest friend to any of the Robin's, adding them when Batman disapproves of something, and overall showing encouragement. Alfred himself will also probably feel responsible as he allowed Damian to go out as Robin, and in doing so sent him to his death, or at least that's how I think Alfred will see it.
Batman's anger was also another thing I expected to come. Although Batman #18 showed this much more (I'm sure Batman, Incorporated #9 will do the same), this issue showed the anger of the Bat, as he went out and disposed of his rage. It's this that makes the statement bold in this issue, as besides this all we see is despair, and upset, but in real life that also leads to anger. I'm curious to see just how big an affect this will have on Batman, as he could become a very dangerous person, and this issue alone shows that he's not a person to mess with at this moment.
Although this issue was amazing, as well as very emotional, I'm more looking forward to seeing how this series continues without Damian, as it was the father, son relationship that I enjoyed the most. I know that it will become a Batman and book, with Red Robin (Tim Drake), Red Hood (Jason Todd), Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), and Nightwing (Dick Grayson) featuring, but I'll still be looking forward to seeing what the bigger picture holds, as Batman always needs a Robin.
Probably one of the most touching issues I've ever read this is the perfect follow-on from Batman Inc. #8, and in my opinion a better issue. Although the whole Requiem concept has interested me, with some very unique takes, this has been the one that's showed the loss of Damian the most, and I don't see the remaining series' beating it. I would easily recommend this to anyone, whether you follow this series or not, as it's brilliant, and very emotional, and even if you just wanted to read this issue you wouldn't need to get the rest of the series.