Well, as always we have a lot going on in this issue – so let’s get to it!
Batman has had enough of your shit, Talia. That’s the basic premise of the issue and the set-up for the grand finale in the coming three (!!!) final issues.
Talia seems to show a slight tinge of remorse now and then when speaking of Damian’s death, going so far as to kill the henchmen who shot at Damian during his fight with the Heretic. She even takes a bit of aggression out on the Heretic himself, perhaps projecting a bit of her own self-hate onto him; punishing him for Damian’s death as a proxy for punishing herself.
Either way, it’s certainly sewing the seeds of discontentment – I see a betrayal coming soon as Heretic realizes he is nothing more than another meaningless pawn to Talia.
In other Talia news, it turns out she still has her father locked up, Rapunzel-style, in a tower. Note the black, white and red chess board, a reoccurring motif in Morrison’s theme, here we go a bit further and the ‘dark knight’ actually topples the ‘red queen’ by Ra’s perspective as he cackles on about how she has overlooked a vital detail involving her plot.
Meanwhile, the Bat-family is scattered, while Dick and Tim get a bead on Jason’s whereabouts and rush in to rescue him.
But wait – What is the holy hell is wrong with Dick’s head in this shot?
According to the credits this is a Burnham page too – could have fooled me; I’ve never seen his work this sloppy and disproportionate.
Edit – actually this page is by Andrei Bressan – so the question still stands; WTF Mr. Bressan?
I have no clue what happened here, but it really shakes you out of the issue as you cannot help but to stare at Dick’s thalidomide head.
When we do finally catch up with Jason, we find him held prisoner by a mysterious woman, who perpetually remains in the shadows and who we are led to believe is actually working on the “right” side of the whole battle and that the Bat-family, and in turn us, should trust “her”. It’s never revealed who this “her” is, but if I were to hazard a guess I’d say… Kathy Kane?
Now, let’s talk about Bruce. Bruce has his back up against a wall – all of Gotham has declared him public enemy number one (right along side Bruce Wayne, of course) – Talia is making her final play – and he’s still dealing with Damian’s death. Well now, what is one thing Morrison has taught us about his Batman throughout all the years he has been writing him? If you back him into a corner – and if you piss him off – you’ve made him a hundred fold more ingenious and dangerous. He is, after all, by Morrison’s own admission, the most dangerous man on earth.
So what’s his play? Well, he has had Kirk Langstrom develop an aerosol-based antidote for the Man-Bat serum, providing Bruce with a tool Talia does not expect.
With this he should be able to easily dispatch her Man-Bat army.
Yet also, Bruce has decided to use a form of the man-Bat serum on himself… in a clever nod to the defining line of the Batman mythos “… Yes, father, I shall become a bat.” Morrison has taken the character to its logical extreme here, literally turning Bruce into a Bat – if Zur en Arrh Batman is Batman minus Bruce, then Man-Bat Batman is Batman without any humanity at all; a literal animal, hell-bent on a singular mission to defeat the devil by taking all of his own human weakness out of the equation entirely. Add to this that he has equipped himself with an armored battle suit and Azrael’s suit of sorrows – and, well, you have an unstoppable beast that is headed right for Talia… and is royally pissed off.
Batman has had enough of your shit, Talia.
Woo-hoo, tear it all down, Batsy! We have three issues left and I’ve yet to be disappointed, so bring on the big finale, Grant! We’re ready!
Five out of Five
(As always – if you’re not in the know – catch up with Morrison’s epic story!)