Two Brothers at War
WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW!
I usually try to avoid spoilers but due to the press coverage of this issue, which already spoiled what happens I thought that there wasn't much point tip toeing around the spoilers.
This has been a very good series and I have really enjoyed what Grant Morrison has been doing. Although not always brilliant the series has been very fun, with lots of suspense, and shock, and it's much better than the previous Batman, Incorporated series.
As I said at the start of my review, this issue has been talked about out loud in the media over the last few days, and surprisingly the creators have been talking about the big surprise, which is unusual in comics as writers, and comic book companies like to keep there big surprises secret. As I said due to this my review will contain spoilers so this will be your last chance to stop reading without knowing the spoilers. I was both dreading and looking forward to this, as although I wasn't looking forward to seeing Damian die, I was interested in how Morrison would handle it. He did a very good job, but the issue overall wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped for. Like last issue Morrison had most of Batman Inc. involved in the story, and this didn't leave as much room for the fight between Damian and his brother The Heretic, but I'll talk more about that later. Besides that Morrison has done a brilliant job, and the story was very entertaining, and suspenseful, with ton's of emotion. H's starting to shape up the big finale to his Batman run, and he's showing that it's going to leave big changes in the Batverse.
Chris Burnham has continued to amaze me with his art on this series, and I'm very happy that he continued into this series. As people who have read my previous Batman Inc. reviews will know I initially wasn't keen on Burnham's art when he worked on the previous Batman Inc. series, but I have come to really enjoy, and appreciate it throughout this series, and am very happy that he's worked on it. His unique style really helps with certain sequences, and especially with the violence. Although there are a lot of artist who's work I enjoy, with a fair few of them being higher on my favourite artist list I don't think any of them would have given the same atmosphere to this series as Burnham has, which shows how much his style of artwork has influenced my thoughts of this series. The detail in Burnham's art is also fabulous, as he really shows a lot of detail throughout the series, let alone this issue. His cover is also brilliant, and I love the way he's taken Alex Ross' Batman R.I.P. cover from Batman #676 and made it his own. I also liked that it showed that it was Robin, but that it kept him in the shadows, only highlighting the yellow of his cape, parts of his face, and the R on his chest, all of which I really liked. It was also nice to see Jason Masters return to draw four pages in this issue, continuing the sequence he drew in the last issue. Master's art was still not quite perfect, but I much preferred it this time round, and wouldn't mind seeing it in another series in the future.
I was really happy to see Red Robin (Tim Drake) used a bit more in this issue, as although he's been involved throughout it's rarely taken time to focus on him. It was however the right time to have him featured more, as the issue has most of the former Robins involved, and it makes the issue feel more centered around them. I really liked the way he kept himself composed, and did the job at hand. At the same time he didn't feel quite the same character as I know. This is most likely due to it still being a small sequence which didn't give him a lot of time. It would have also been nice to see him have interaction with Damian, even if it was only a couple of lines/words.
I was however really happy to see Damian and Nightwing (Dick Grayson) interacting with each other one more time. I really enjoyed when the two characters were Batman and Robin during Morrison's Batman and Robin series, and have really missed them working together since. I also thought it was very nice that Damian acknowledged that Dick was his favourite partner. It's not usual to see feelings come out of Damian, but with this being probably his last chance it was nice to see. I also thought it was the right thing to have Damian think of Dick as his favourite partner, as Dick mentored Damian when his father was assumed dead (Batman R.I.P.), and Damian would have seen him as a role model, as well as a rival. Also the only other partner Damian had is his father Bruce, and with Bruce always worrying over both Damian's actions, and safety it would be a bit hard to work as a well oiled unit.
I'll move on to talk about Batman's struggle to escape the safe. It was interesting to see Batman featured less in the series for a second straight issue, and like last issue I think it was the right decision, as it gives more opportunity for the development of the story. Plus also with Batman out of the game it will make his sorrow over Damian's death even stronger as he will know that he could do nothing to save his son, and that he was to slow. The interaction from Talia al Ghul to Batman was also interesting, as it continued to show that she was doing whatever it took to move on from him, and the only way she could really do that is by destroying his life.
Another thing I was curious about was what's happening between The Hood, and Jason Todd? Last issue showed Hood turning on Todd (who was dressed as Wingman). I was looking forward to see the continuation of that, but it never happened in this issue. This was probably a good thing as it gave more time to develop the events that happened in this issue, as having already thought that there wasn't enough time spent on Damian's death, having this would give even less time. I do however look forward to seeing the continuation of it sometime down the line, preferably next issue, or the latest the one after that.
Finally I've came to Damian's death. This is the spoiler that has been featured in articles on the internet over the last few days so I thought that I'd leave this till last. If anyone was going to kill Damian off it was right that Morrison was the man to do it, as having created Damian as a character it wouldn't be the same if someone else did it, especially when Morrison had supposedly created the character with the intention of killing him. Anyway I'll start with the fight between Damian, and his brother the Heretic. With the extra training and size the Heretic had an obvious advantage over Damian, and in a way that took away from the quality of the fight. It was also interesting that even with Dick fighting with him that the Heretic was still stronger. I did however find it interesting that Damian kept calling out for his mother, asking her to stop this, which showed that Damian wanted to save his mother, and that there may have been a slight bit of fear in him. I wasn't however overly happy with the way Damian died. Although it was very sudden, and believable it just didn't have the overall wow factor that I expected. I did however like the montage page showing Damian's final attempt in slaying the Heretic, as it showed both the determination in him at the start, and the realization of his fate at the end. I also liked that Damian didn't go down without a fight, as although he was at a massive disadvantage in size he still managed to show all his skill and determination. I also thought this sequence was drawn brilliantly by Burnham, and thought that the violence was even better than anything in this series before.
I will miss Damian now that he's gone, but hope that like most comic deaths that he will return, and look forward to seeing just how badly this affects Batman in the remaining 4 issues of this series.
Although not the best issue in this series, or the best death in comic book history, this was still a very good book, and I for one am looking forward to seeing how this affects Batman. I would highly recommend this, and the rest of the series as it's a truly wonderful series.