The Father's Tale
I have to come clean right off the bat, I've read my share of Batman comics, but virtually nothing post New 52. I wasn't kept away by anger or blind prejudice, I just frankly never got around to it. Two things made me pick up this book. First, I loved the cover. When CV and other news outlets reported on the death of Damian, I was nonplussed because of the cliche that death has become in comic books. Yet, much of the work in the Bat-titles surrounding the tragedy impressed me and in its best forms strayed from the sensationalist approaches we've seen in the past. Perhaps, that's what led me to this extraordinarily poignant and minimalist cover.
The second selling point for me was that I had heard great appraisals of Scott Snyder's writing but was especially interested in seeing if he could pull off the depiction of a perennially grief-stricken and brooding character brooding (more than usual). I can safely say that that was indeed accomplished. Kubert's art was solid as usual, although I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn't get to check out Capullo.
Now for a bit of detraction. Let me begin by talking about Harper Row. Prior to reading this issue, I had heard the name, but knew nothing else, except that there seemed to be a bit of concern that she would be the next Robin. Maybe, I'm a sucker for punk/goth/angsty girls, but DC seems to handle those moody young girls well (i.e. Raven, Black Alice, etc.). So, for starters I liked her and think she fits right into the Gotham I've been familiar with for years. Cullen, I wasn't to crazy about because he seemed too docile compared to his sister. I could understand him being a more calm or timid individual, but he was, to me, a bit on the bland side. I'm still torn about the scene in which Batman punches Harper. While, I like that Snyder was willing to take the risk of showing Batman making a purely emotion-driven mistake, the fact that the protector of the innocent was for a brief moment a bully made me uncomfortable. That could be a good thing. Good writing often does confront us with things we'd rather not deal with, and it's logical for me to idolize a psychotic, slightly egomaniacal man dressed as a Bat and think it beneath him to strike a female aspiring vigilante.
So, this issue got me thinking which is all anyone can ask of entertainment these days. I would have honestly given this a 3.5 if the option were still available because it lacked something I couldn't quite put my finger on. And, also through no fault of the creative team, I just wasn't invested in the main characters shown here, because it was my first encounter with them. Otherwise, I'd say there's no reason why a reader of the series, or a lapsed and casual purchaser of comics shouldn't pick this one up. I definitely see good things on the horizon given the character development showcased here.