Gearing up for the much anticipated return of Bruce Wayne has been a much labored process. We’ve got Batman and Robin, the Batman series, the return of Bruce Wayne series, and an upcoming title entitled Batman Inc all revved up and ready to go. And besides the Ramones reference and the inevitability of the return one can only wonder what an issue like Batman #703 can offer up towards this climax. Sure, Bruce Wayne deserves this kind of homecoming of sorts, and sure us fans deserve a welcoming of this magnitude or maybe I should state it as “sure, us fans deserve this kind of emotional build up to the overwhelming climax.” But that is to be expected (as we all expect it) when it comes to something like this and Batman #703 mostly supports this theory.
Fabian Nicieza really shocked me in this issue. While he could have done an all out action packed one-off issue, he does the complete opposite and where most writers will completely ignore a certain angle of the story Nicieza ignores the obvious route and fleshes out the most minute detail which would have played out as your typical “someone commits a crime and Batman catches the bad guy and sends him to Arkham”. The story goes beyond this typical convention and delivers a deep, thoughtful, and (at times) heart-wrenching story. In this story we see Damian as his brash, young, rude self, letting Dick know how disappointed he is that he let a criminal known as Getaway Genius getaway. After Getaway Genius is captured and is revealed to be the original Getaway Genius Roy Reynolds’ daughter Olivia, Dick tells Damian a story about his last run in with the Getaway Genius with Roy Reynolds under the mask. Asking Damian what would he have given up to have more time with Bruce before Bruce disappeared we are sent into a flashback where we see Dick (as Robin) complaining as to why Bruce let the Getaway Genius go (much akin to Damian’s rant). Bruce then shows Dick what Roy Reynolds was stealing which turns out to be chemotherapy medicine so that he could live long enough to see his aforementioned daughter grow up. Bruce, who of course lost his parents when he was young, obliges this so called robbery, reimburses the clinic and sets up a health insurance plan for Roy.
Within this issue there are also several instances where we see Damian for what he is, a little kid who needs guidance and understanding. Under the tutelage of Dick, Damian begins to see his Father in a different light. Not as a loser who lets criminals get away, but as a stoic, meaningful symbol to which he can be guided by. In fact all of Bruce’s “kids” are well represented here. Dick is finally stepping is starting to take shape beautifully into the Dark Knight, Dick is no longer that insecure boy who is trying to wear his Father’s shoes, but as a Man who realizes his responsibility and his own personal legend while Tim shows off his intuition and puts to use everything that Bruce has taught him. They all work together as a team and you cant help but feel Bruce’s presence within the group. All the characters are well written and distinct none of this half written, sped through, banal writing which was evidenced in the most recent issue of Detective Comics. Nicieza hit’s the characters voices spot on that delivers the tenderness, sternness, and boldness as the richness of the lessons learned gracefully puts a greater emphasis on every single action. The art on the other hand isn’t too good, but Cliff Richards tries his best to deliver content as well as the story does. But Richards take on Red Robin is spot on, he definitely understands the high flying acrobatics that Tim possess while his Batman and Robin could use a bit of work as I found them very basic.
Overall a great issue that shouldn’t be missed, this, along with Grant Morrison’s two issue run has effectively made this title the best bat-books so far this month, the story is memorable and it has speedily crept it’s way onto my list of my favorite bat-books. This issue in particular is very very impressive and should be remembered for a long time to come.
Reviewed by Dane