Artists: Chris Burnham, Jason Masters & Andrei Bressan
This has been a series that I've really been enjoying, and more so in recent months. Although it's not always been consistently outstanding, it's always been good (apart from issue 0), and I'll be slightly sad when Grant Morrison's fabulous run on the Caped Crusader comes to an end.
Batman is a wanted man in Gotham City, so he goes to Azrael for help in his war, as well as going to drastic measures to get his revenge. Also Talia al Ghul visits her dad, Ra's al Ghul.
This was a brilliant issue, and although not quite as good as the very emotional last issue, it's still amazing, and the end of Grant Morrison's run seems to be shaping up nicely. Morrison has been one of my favourite Batman writers over the last few years, and he continues to show how good a writer he is again. The way he's managed to keep Batman calm and collected in this issue has been brilliant, as although it's still obvious that he's upset about the death of his son Damian Wayne, he's managing to do things that need to be done to get his revenge, and in a way that's not too aggressive, still being thought out perfectly. I also loved how he continued the entire story, and how finally it's moved to a different scenery, as although the huge fight that claimed Damian's life was brilliant, needing a fair few issues to build the suspense, and drama, it's nice that it's finally moved on. This issue was however slightly slow at points, as with Batman focusing, and preparing for the endgame it doesn't give as much excitement, or action, but that's actually a nice thing, as the last few issues of the series are bound to be explosive. Morrison's also done a wonderful job of showing Talia's emotions to this, as although there isn't many, they are shown, and seeing her in morning black was interesting, but I'll talk a little more on that later.
I've really enjoyed Chris Burnham's art on this series, and although I wasn't a fan of his art on the original Batman, Incorporated series, it's really grown on me, and he continues to show why his arts so good in this issue. The best thing about Burnham's art is that it's very gritty, and rough, and that really suits this style of series, making it more darker, and moody. The layout of Burnham's art was also brilliant, adding more drama to the issue, which was nice. I also love how Burnham's artwork has a lot of depth to it, which makes it also more dynamic, also giving yet more drama. There was however one part of Burnham's art that confused, and annoyed me, and that was whilst Batman was talking to Azrael, as he appeared to be smiling at one point, and then awful serious the next, and whether this was meant or not it just felt strange. I know that Batman was trying to make Azrael feel better with himself, but I just can't see him being happy any time soon, due to Damian's death. The additional artwork from Jason Masters, and Andrei Bressan was also good, and although not as good as Burnham's art it was still decent. Master's art which has been featured in the last few issue was however the better of the two.
This issue saw Batman as a fugitive, which was interesting. With Talia being the ultimate terrorist Gotham has to do as she says, so the Gotham City Police Department is after Batman, smashing the Bat-Signal. Batman has been a wanted man a couple of times in the past, with War Games being the most recent, and more memorable times, but it was interesting to see it again. What I loved most though was the symbolism of breaking the Bat-Signal, as it showed the extent that things have gone to. I also loved how Commissioner James Gordon hung his head in shame, not happy about what he's doing.
This issue started with Batman visiting Azrael. Now although I'm not the biggest Azrael fan he has played a big part in Batman in the past, so seeing him return was nice. I also found the conversation he had with Batman interesting, and the fact that Batman had a dream of Damian putting the world into ruin couldn't be now that he's dead. I liked this as it shows that the 666 future that was prophesied way back in Batman #666 (continued in Batman #700, and Batman, Incorporated #5) should still happen, which begs the question who is the future Damian? I've always thought it'd be a clone, and hold to that thought.
Talia also went to visit he father Ra's in this issue, which was very interesting. I personally haven't seen Ra's in anything since he featured in Red Robin, so it was nice to see him featured in this issue, especially considering the story, and the fact that this is the first appearance of Ra's in the New 52 (as far as I know). The conversation itself was very interesting, but it was the symbolism in the chess game that Ra's was playing that caught my attention the most, as with the Black Knight attacking the Red Queen, it symbolises Batman's revenge over Talia. The words that Morrison chose for the conversation were also brilliant, as they showed both Talia, and Ra's characteristics, as well as making it dramatic.
This issue also saw Bruce go to Lucius Fox to acquire some tech. I won't go into any details about what Batman actually acquired, as to avoid spoilers, but I will talk about the tone of the sequence, as well as my overall feelings. It was nice that Lucius was added to this issue, as despite getting him ready for his fight against Talia, with the absence of Alfred he needs someone to confide in. I also found it interesting that Bruce managed to keep things normal, as with Lucius not knowing of Damian's death he has to keep a strong act, and it showed some very light humour in Batman's darkest hour. The tech that Lucius showed him was brilliant, and although it looked like similar stuff that's featured in the past, the way Batman would put it to use was very interesting.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
Now if you've seen the gatefold cover this won't be a huge spoiler, but I thought I'd warn you anyway. This issue also featured Dr. Kirk Langstrom who got broke into by the police whilst working on a Man-Bat antidote. Now the big question I ask is where this comes in with the events of Detective Comics #19, as it appeared that them events took place after Talia started using the Man-Bat formula, but it would appear that this may take place after Detective Comics #19. Either way, apart from the confusuion this was interesting, and the more interesting thing was that Batman would go to the lengths of turning himself into a Man-Bat to beat Talia. Now the only thing I didn't like about this as well as most of this weeks New 52 issues is that the gatefold covers have been spoiling the endings of the issues, and although I liked the concept, I'd have preferred the surprise.
This was a terrific issue, and although the pace has been slowed down a bit, the endgame to Morrison's Batman run looks to be heating up, and the shock, and interest of this issue has me real excited for the final few issues. I would highly recommend this as well as the entire series, as although not Morrison's best Batman story, it has been a brilliant one to end his run.