Batman has suffered a terrible loss. By now, it shouldn't be a surprise to readers. The spoilers have been out there since before BATMAN INCORPORATED #8 was released. As you would expect, we see some reaction from Batman. But it's more than that. With the return of Harper Row, we get some outside perspective. To see some first hand reaction by Batman, you'll have to pick up BATMAN AND ROBIN #18.
There has been some speculation over the future of Harper's character. She has been an interesting character in the little we saw before and this issue gives us more. This is where we get to find out more about her, her background and what she just might be capable of. I've already seen some fans complain about her and that there are other Bat-characters that could fill her role. That may be but I'm willing to see what her future may hold. She has just the right amount of attitude, skill and perseverance I'd like to see more of.
As for Batman, what would you expect his reaction to be over his loss? As I mentioned, there is a deeper look in BATMAN AND ROBIN this week. It's great seeing the intensity and the pain he's feeling from an outside perspective.
It's always a little weird not seeing Greg Capullo's art but Andy Kubert is a welcomed replacement. Seeing his art is a reminder of some of the past history we've seen. He has a knack for the gritty action scenes and seeing his version of Harper is pretty cool.
The first is not a direct problem with this title. Obviously this does not follow the events of issue 17. There is a gap and we don't know how much time has passed necessarily. We just know this is following the events from BATMAN INCORPORATED.
As much as I enjoyed seeing Harper and her developments, the question also comes up about how much time has passed since her last appearance. She brings some great things to the series. Her talk with Batman is great and shows what he means to her. It still feels a little like we're missing something. This is just a problem with having so many different Bat-titles. And a reason I welcome ZERO YEAR in pulling this title away from the others for a bit. At the same time, seeing the emotion displayed in BATMAN AND ROBIN almost took a little away from this.
The main story flows almost seamlessly into the back up. That's a good thing but since the art changes from Kubert's to Alex Maleev's the different styles make the seamless nature a little jarring. Because of the nature of the story, you can almost ignore it. Almost.
It's a sucky time in Batman's life. Seeing Batman deal with the loss of a Robin is something we've seen before. That doesn't mean this is the same situation. This is even slightly addressed in a tiny way. Seeing what Batman's going through from Harper's outside perspective was a great choice. It makes the story play out a little differently than we might see in a typical 'mourning' issue. The way she's written makes me want to see more of her in the future.
I will admit there were some deeply emotional scenes here. This made me really think over the rating for this issue. I'm not sure if I was so touched due to personal loss I'm currently going through in my family. But it does show Snyder's ability to make you feel Batman's pain.
The unfortunate nature of this book being part of a bigger Bat-Universe means this issue doesn't necessarily flow with previous issue. We're just coming out of Death of the Family and now suddenly, a huge event has taken place elsewhere. Having some more or separation or distance between issue 17 and BATMAN INCORPORATED would have been nice. It's also unfairly hard to view this issue after the intense emotions depicted in this week's BATMAN AND ROBIN.
If Harper is destined to play a bigger role in the Bat or DC Universe, you will not want to miss out on this issue.