So, the final issue of the original run of the Batman ongoing comic series has finally come out and with it, comes the inevitable end of an era, but unfortunately this issue doesn't quite give the series it's much deserved fond farewell. This issues' story is told by a mysterious narrator who ends up being Damian. Damian tells the story of Dick Grayson's life from his early days as Robin, his days as Nightwing, and the current day where he is Gotham's Batman. And that's where this issue succeeds because Fabian Nicieza for one nails the Damian character writing wise and because he takes the time to point out the difference between Bruce and Dick, he gives that part enough time for the casual Batman fan to notice the difference between the two but he doesn't spend too much time on it even though the psychological difference between the two is always present. I also liked how Damian, who we all know is a brat, shows his respect for Dick and how he acknowledges Dick as his mentor/teacher, showing Damian that it's not about the criminal, it's about the victim(s) and to be a protector you need to take that into consideration. It makes me wonder, even though Damian is going to be Robin to a Bruce Batman, if he will instead decide to take advice from Dick even though Bruce is his father and if it will cause any tension between the three that could possibly play out in the future.
But as for the story in this issue, the three seamless stories end up blending together really well in fact I'm not sure if their three different stories since their all written by Nicieza and the only thing that tells them apart is the art and the time period. But again even though Nicieza's writing was good, I can't help but feel that this wasn't the grand finale for the Batman ongoing series. It feels like it was a story that was stashed away for this particular situation and in that I mean it feels like a story that's been saved for a situation where DC has to scramble to get something out and Nicieza was like "hey I got a quick, clean story!". That may not be the case but it didn't feel totally appropriate. Especially when it comes to the whole relaunch thing, I was expecting to see Dick change in front of my eyes, yeah sure we get Dick's past but, considering the wealth of stories we've been given with Dick donning the cowl and the fact that he won't be Batman anymore I guess I was expecting to see him, at the end, become Nightwing again or something to that affect considering it's the last issue that Dick will appear as Batman.
I guess, though, that will all be taken care of once the relaunch hits and if you take that out of the equation, we do get an adequate story. Damian proves that he is a great storyteller, if a bit arrogant at times, and it was nice to get a story told from his perspective, and especially his viewpoints on the difference between Dick and Bruce which is the highlight of this book. And on the other end of things I wish we got a little more Alfred because he is so essential to everyone. I also wish we got a little more Tim Drake in this book because it looks like he's gonna be playing a smaller part in the Bat-Family post relaunch and because he was Robin for a long time and like Bruce, Dick, and Damian he is an integral part of the Batman Family. But, I understand, it's a story about Dick Grayson and in the end he should have the spotlight.
The only thing I feel that doesn't fit in with this book is the art. Sure some of it looks nice but some of it doesn't and the stuff that doesn't work is the books hindrance. And the worst part about it is the fact that as a reader, when the art shifts artists, you can automatically tell upon first glance that it absolutely does not work which makes that specific part of the issue that much harder to read. I never really liked multiple artists on books because of that fact and even though multiple artists does work (I.E. Batman: Gates Of Gotham #4) it doesn't work here and with the multiple artists this issue feels like it's an annual with a bunch of short, banal stories. But the art overall wasn't that bad I mean yeah, there is one section in particular that just didn't work, but in the long run the stories do blend together nicely art-wise.
But in the end, this should not have been the Batman comic series' last issue. Sure we get to see Dick's past through the eyes of Damian and how he see's them as different but it feels like it's not enough, like it's missing that magic and essence like a short annual story or a throwaway story especially for a book like Batman which has a rich and long history. It missed the mark but not by a lot because there is quality there despite its flaws and we do get a semi-fresh interpretation of Dick Grayson's past and the difference between him and his mentor Bruce which was a nice refresher. But, in the end, this doesn't feel like the final issue of the original run of Batman because it lacks grandiose but it's qualities are there and I'm sure come September Scott Snyder will totally make up for this slight bump in the road.
Reviewed by Dane