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It isn’t some spectacular death by the hands of Bane or Mr. Freeze. Instead, it is caused by an exploding fish. Yes, let me repeat that — an exploding fish!
This is one of the many disappointments in this story — and it doesn’t get much better from here. But maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.
The version of Damian in this storyline is a bit older. They claim he is around 14, but he appears to be more like 19 or 20. This makes for Damian’s smart aleck attitude as more annoying than cutesy.
A wisecracking 8-year-old is fun and spunky, especially when mouthing off to the ultra serious demeanor of Batman. But nobody likes a know-it-all teenager, not even a know-it-all teenager. Isn’t this why they killed off Jason Todd years ago?
Nobody in this series really comes off as too likeable — including Damian himself. Everyone knows what the other character should be doing, and isn’t afraid to let them know it. In fact, it almost comes off a little preachy at times.
Now back to that exploding fish thing. Batman and Robin are at the scene of a mass murder, covered in homeless people and dead fish. Robin makes some random, tasteless joke at the expense of Tim Drake before the big disaster happens.
For some reason, it is never explained why Batman doesn’t see anything awry before the fish explodes. Sadly enough, Damian points this out several times. I assume it is supposed to be the writer’s attempt at establishing survivor’s guilt. To me, it just points out a major plot hole.
When Damian finds the remains of Batman among the guts and rubble, you feel a little bad, but it isn’t anything you will get too choked up about. Which is actually a good thing, because when issue number 2 hits, we find out things aren’t exactly as they seem.
Okay, I’ll let the “bat” out of the bag. Bruce Wayne is not the one under the cowl. It is in fact, Dick Grayson.
I’m not quite sure why they did this exactly. They gave no indication ahead of time that anyone but Bruce was still in the costume. Not a hint of anything, until an angry Bruce shows up to teach his son a lesson about going against his wishes.
How does Damian go against his father’s wishes you ask? Well it’s simple, he has been killing a long list of his enemies to get revenge on them for murdering Dick.
Practically offscreen, Damian takes out Mr. Freeze and Killer Croc single-handedly. I find it funny they have him do this, then later have trouble with much smaller criminals like Sharptooth. Maybe these older villains are past their prime, or maybe Damian forgot to keep eating his Wheaties.
Bruce plans to give Damian a good butt stomping — but due to his old age, falls short. Eventually, Damian gets the upper hand and puts the poor guy in a hospital bed fighting for his life. I thought an older Bruce was able to put the hurt on Superman, maybe that was my imagination though.
Throughout this whole time, people from Alfred to an old priest, repeatedly tell Damian he is disrespecting the entire Batman legacy by not following his father’s golden rule. It isn’t really clear why Damian decides they have a valid point. It could be he was just tired of hearing it,
because trust me, I got tired of reading it.
The thing about this, is that Damian clearly has a change of heart at some point. He fights his bloodthirsty urges — but only to an extent. Minor crooks seem to get off with just a brutal beating. It is the bigwigs he can’t control himself from offing.
It really undermines the storyline that Damian keeps crossing the line. I understand he struggles. We all struggle with something. Not killing shouldn’t be that hard; especially in front of the man that drilled into you how wrong it is.
At least keep up appearances when the old man is around. Capture the villain until your dad falls asleep, and then have your way with him. Just show a little more restraint.
Damian goes back and forth on his (or his father’s) decision multiple times before the story reaches it’s conclusion. It never appears that he learns his lesson — even in a ”father knows best” kind of way. This isn’t really a moral of the story deal here.
Of all the things that go on in this rather short arc, I have to say the weirdest decision has to be the demise of Alfred. No, it isn’t strange that he dies. It is bizarre though, that he is resurrected a few panels later as a cat. A talking cat at that.
With all this being said, I cannot recommend this book very highly. It is an offbeat adventure not really worth the price of admission. If you want a quality story featuring Damian as Robin, check out Grant Morrison’s run on Batman and Robin. It’s a hell of a lot more entertaining than this rubbish.
If your morbid curiosity gets the best of you, maybe you can find this in your lcs dump bin. If all else fails, you can always use it to line the bottom of your birdcage once you get bored with it.
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This is truey mystery writing at it’s best as red hairing after red hairing pop up proving our
heroes and even the reader wrong at every angle. Of course it has to be Batman himself to be
the one who points out the elephant in the room. Who benefits? Certainly not the heroes but
certainly not the villains either. After all how can a bad guy make a living with the League on
high alert? But then who?
Hero after hero pop up to put their two cents in. We get everyone from Wildcat to the Spectre
making cameos along with Firestorm and Black Canary. Heck I’m pretty sure there were even a
couple characters I couldn’t even name. And don’t forget the laundry list of villains including
Deadshot, Merlyn and a washed up but very important Captain Boomerang.
The writer Brad Meltzer really creates an element of suspense not often seen in comic these
days and Rags Morales of Nightwing fame uses his penciling to create an unforgettable tale you
will want to read over and over again. Trust me, I’m on my third read through and still puzzling
this complex story out in my head. As intricate as any mystery novel at Barnes and Noble that is
I’ve tried my best here not to add any spoilers but not for your benefit my friends, I just didn’t
think you would believe me. But in all seriousness folks pick this series up. I suggest the graphic
novel form as you can read it straight through with no interruptions. That way you can truly get
the full effect of this masterpiece that will make you question everything you know about some
of your favorite heroes.
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