Batman and Too Many Guest Stars
First and foremost, I have to say this is one of the best executed Gatefold Covers DC's had so far. The ones that jump off of big twists or revelations from the preceding issue work well enough, then the ones that spoil a moment from the end of the issue they're on are frustrating, but this one finds that perfect middle ground. The appearance of Carrie Kelly is a shock, not one foreshadowed by the previous issue, and the issue doesn't depict a key moment from the story, but rather, leaves her role in the story ambiguous, compelling you to open up the issue and find out.
Suspension of disbelief is a very tricky thing when it comes to superhero comics. Normally it's a fine line with a delicate balance that actually isn't all that hard to achieve. But when the concept of death rolls around, things can get... shaky. Batman should definitely be getting very emotional over the death of his son, that makes sense, but this issue brings up a fundamentally awkward question in the world of superhero comics. Is it so wrong for Batman to want to resurrect Damian? I mean, ok, in this issue he goes about it the wrong way, but everyone else seems to have the message that Bruce should let Damian Rest in Peace. Tim, of ALL PEOPLE, should understand this best, it's he who obsessed over finding Batman after he 'died,' and Batman himself brings up a great point, RESURRECTION ISN'T SUCH A FARFETCHED THING IN THEIR WORLD. It doesn't even comes with a cost every time. Why does everyone have a problem with Batman "not letting Damian rest in peace?" Decades of comics have shown that this is not nearly an insane notion.
However, all that said, I DO have a problem with Batman's methods. I mean, he's seriously going to turn Damian into a patchwork monster? I mean, nothing against Frank but come on! Even HE hates what he is. He knows that's no way to live, and Batman HAS to know there are other options. I mean, hello, LAZARUS PITS ANYONE? I know I'm not the first to point that out, but still. Seriously. ESPECIALLY considering that should be THE most obvious choice considering Damian's heritage. And ON that topic, another reason Batman shouldn't be stupid enough to make Damian a frankenstein abomination is that THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HIS KILLER HAS BEEN IMPLIED TO BE. It's been suggested that The Heretic is more than just a clone, but perhaps a monster built to perfection. He's a soulless husk of Damian, and to turn Damian into his dark reflection that killed him would be the absolute worst way to dishonor him.
All that aside, this could've still been a great issue, but it's just trying to do too much. Carrie Kelly would've been better introduced in a story with more legroom, but no, she had to be on the gatefold cover. Though I kind of feel like we could've done without the silent issue and introduced her there. Nothing against silent issues, I just feel that it was only emotional because of the character, not any talent on the writer. BUT I'm not 100% on that yet. This was "Batman and Red Robin," but Red Robin only appears at the end to tell Batman he's crazy. To be fair, I'm glad for the way the scene is written, because it reinforces the Joker's victory in Death of the Family, and helps justify the seemingly anticlimactic ending. But Red Robin did little to deserve the spotlight. Again, without the Carrie Kelley scenes there would've been more room for a more intense battle and a stronger presence of the temporarily titular character. Especially when he has to share that scene with Frankenstein, who was there long before him. It was interesting to see Frank show up in this corner of the DC Universe, but he didn't get enough page time to really nail the point of his character and appearance here home.
As weird as it is, I loved Carrie Kelley's appearance in this issue. I'm glad the whole 'Robin' thing with her was misdirection, though I thought that obvious from the start, too many people severely overreacted from the cover reveal. It's clear that she's being set up to be an important character in this series, as she was one of the few people close to Damian in life. Something that naggingly bothers me in a relatively unimportant respect, is that we never find out WHAT Carrie tutored Damian in. Damian's good at.... almost everything, so what has Carrie been tutoring him on? It might help demonstrate what HER talent is, but we get absolutely no indication, it's weird and kind of awkward. Or maybe it was acting lessons. Ok, there's some tiny clues, but still. It just seems weird that nobody ever mentions what it was.
In Conclusion: 3/5
It's a shame to give this issue this score, because it really had such potential. The Red Robin and Frankenstein scene didn't get enough room to really spread it's wings, it had to share space with Carrie Kelley. Except I did REALLY enjoy the Carrie Kelley scenes, her introduction into the DCU Proper was well executed, and made me look forward to more appearances from her. But it was just a first glance. Not to mention all the aforementioned resurrection morality problems.