As leery as I was about this issue, not having enjoyed the last one at all, I was pleasantly surprised by this issue. Maybe because there was less jumping around in the time, maybe because we finally got some back story on Una.
As the cover informed us, we're no longer dealing with Una, we're dealing with The Absence. In fact, we open with a splash page of Una taunting Batman and Robin as they sit in the rafters, informing her they sprang her trap on purpose. After Damian calls her a lunatic, she surmises they are trying to provoke her to distract her. She reveals all of this was nothing more than a way to get her message to Bruce Wayne, as he is the one funding the Batmen.
She tells her henchmen to keep Batman and Robin conscious, because they have a lot to get through. Indeed, we get the entire back story over the next ten or so pages. Una and Bruce on a date, which ends disastrously. She accuses him of keeping her at arm's length. Halfway through the date, she insinuates that she's only there as his beard.
We then cut to her telling the story to one of her friends while attending the yacht party. The friend informs her that Bruce is principled and waiting for marriage. Unfortunately, Bruce is no longer returning her calls and is, according to everyone else, "indisposed." We know that he was actually trapped in history, but that's not quite common knowledge, so her position is fairly understandable.
Unfortunately, before we get any more of her views, the robbery begins and she is shot through the head and into the Gotham River. The artwork as she falls in and pulls herself out is absolutely stunning.
She begins her trek home, pondering her existence and how she's still alive. She ponders life, the universe, her relationship with Bruce, everything. Arriving at home, she has a machine scan her and it pronounces her alive, albeit with something known as Dandy Walker syndrome. The computer warns her that though she is unharmed, the increased flow of oxygen to the brain has unknown effects. She bandages herself up and prepares to deal with the attack of the evening.
She no longer sleeps, so she decides to look into her own funeral. Because there is no family to speak of, she feels confident she won't be recognized until the moment she throws her veil off and announces to everyone in attendance she's fine. Once she's there, she realizes there isn't anyone who is particularly upset by her death, even Bruce hasn't shown up, opting instead to send a bouquet.
At the last minute she decides to keep her identity a secret. Everyone had stopped missing her so quickly, she wasn't even sure they'd be happy she was back. Una determines the increased oxygen to her brain made her more intelligent, it made her think faster. It made her realize she couldn't be satisfied by their approval.
At that moment, she decided to leave a trail of breadcrumbs for Batman, who would surely report to Bruce. She removed her money from her company and waited for Batman to look into the murder. Once nobody looked into it, she realized she wasn't missed at all, so she'd have to take matters into her own hands and make Bruce miss her.
She recruited her henchmen from people who had nothing. Everything she did screamed Absence, all her plotting and planning.
Back to the situation at the church, Batman is trying to convince Una that she doesn't know all the facts. She scoffs that she's more intelligent before Robin pipes up that the whole situation is ridiculous, they're here because of her error. Una exits the church, confident her men will be able to hold them for enough time that only one of them will escape to tell Bruce Wayne what he was missing. Until then, though, she'll keep reminding him.
Fire has broken out in the church, thanks to some explosives planted by Una. Batman and Robin wait until the smoke weakens the henchmen and then make their escape. They save as many of them as possible before making their way back to the Bat-bunker.
An amusing scene with Alfred, Dick, and Damian where Damian fails to understand why dating can tangle people into such knots. Dick says they have to protect Bruce from this, but Alfred reminds them The Batman doesn't need much in the way of protection.
They call him in Japan and he advises Dick to be calm and to think about what she's likely to do next. That's when we see Vicki Vale pacing her apartment, trying to talk through a story. Una announces her presence, and we end with a splash page of her holding a bloody bag labeled Girlfriend's Body Parts and a comically large pair of scissors. That's where we leave it for this issue, with the conclusion coming in Nothing In Particular.
As I said at the beginning of this issue's review, I was much more fond of this issue than the last one. The qualms I had with art seem to have been resolved, Dick and Damian look much better out of their costumes and the plot, while still ridiculous, seems less so now that we have some of Una's explanation.
The writing seems to have found its way during this issue, with fewer holes in the plot which require patching from the reader's imagination. I can't imagine Una being inducted into the Rogues Gallery, but she makes a believable enough villain for this three-issue arc.
Batman and Robin #18:
Reviewed by Melinda