Rest in peace this time? Not Rot in purgatory? Let’s hope.
It’s been spoiled to high heaven already – but this is it, Morrison destroys his creation.
Click through to join in on the memorial –
Morrison finally makes good on his promise regarding the inevitably tragic life of Damian Wayne – by god he’s made this author like the little shit more than any other character in a very long time. Did Morrison succeed in making me “cry and cry and cry” though? No, not quite, but he does have a few more issues to really deliver a more substantive emotional blow.
This issue contains quite a few great small moments, but overall the ending seemed a bit rushed, and even though there is some emotional import here, it fails to remain fully coherent in its final pages.
This is probably due to the rotating artists on the issue, yet I’m not sure where exactly the blame lies. The finer details of the most important part of the book’s narrative seem lost in the hurry to simply kill Damian and show a splash of his limp, lifeless body. The final pages here fly in the face of Morrison’s regularly meticulous attention to every little detail, that I cannot help but feel a slight tinge of disappointment.
The good? Well, come on.
Damian and Dick getting to fight along side each other one last time while Damian drops his guard to let Dick know how important he was to him is just beautiful. These are two characters that Morrison literally created the dynamic between and it has been one of the (if not THE) best team dynamic portrayed in comics in years for my money. It was immensely satisfying to see these two together again during Damian’s final moments.
Even Tim, who I constantly forget is hanging about somewhere, gets a good fight scene and some pretty enjoyable dialog moments in.
Bruce is busy escaping from the deathtrap Talia had him in at the end of our last issue and honestly, Bruce has the least to do in the entire issue. This is all about Damian and by god, does he go out like a fucking champion.
First he saves Dick and Gordon, then he flies into the Wayne Tower lobby, bringing all the Leviathan children with him, quickly knocks them all out, manages to indirectly save Tim, who is trapped under a collapsed airplane by garnering the attention of all the Leviathan thugs in the Wayne building’s lobby. Then things get a bit harder for the boy.
The Heretic shows up, quickly knocks Grayson the fuck out, and we’re then left with a one-on-one between a young Damian and his genetically enhanced clone.
The ensuing fight scene is fantastically drawn and wrenching in its brutality. Damian has the spirit of a gloriously mad tiger and seeing him slowly succumb to the Heretic’s overwhelming power is by far the largest emotional payoff of the issue (which I will not spoil here – see this fucking page in print dammit!). Damian is a character who lives and dies by the pride he takes in his skill-set and determination, so seeing one of those notions slowly slip from his grasp is grievous and poignant; something which can be conveyed with almost no words and still sound like poetry.
I really enjoyed the small detail of Heretic attempting to ‘break’ Damian’s back, ala Bane and his father, but being unsuccessful due to Damian’s cybernetic spine. It is a nice touch that goes without comment, so only those with the knowledge of the character’s history will really find it a nice flourishing touch on the fight.
However, soon enough the issue really starts to fall apart for me.
As Damian is receiving the killing blow from the Heretic, Batman has escaped the deathtrap and jumps onto a nearby Man-bat to break his fall as he glides down into the lobby of Wayne tower, where he crashes through the glass ceiling and scoops a dead Damian up into his arms. However, the action here is not clear at all and seems very disjointed and non-linear. We’re forced to fill in the gaps, but I’m assuming many readers will find these last pages rather confusing and poorly executed.
Bruce arrives a second too late to save his son, but suddenly the Heretic is nowhere to be seen. Ellie still holds the Heretic’s “World-bomb trigger” at the end of this issue, so I find it highly unlikely that the Heretic would simply disappear from the scene immediately after killing Damian.
Tim and Dick are still out of commission but the images showing us this information are but tiny blips on a large page, and unless a reader is paying very close attention it will be extremely easy to miss these details amongst all of the bombast. Tim’s incapacitation is especially hard to note:
I certainly hope that the next issue picks up immediately where this one ends and Bruce must instantly face the Heretic himself, if not this would be the first big misstep I’ve seen Morrison take thus far in his arc. Everything up to this point has been slavishly detail oriented and every minute bit of spatial context has mattered, so it would be a huge disappointment to see Morrison take the easy way out now, just in an effort to manufacture the environment for the final showdown between Bruce and Talia.
In any event, it’s still a strong issue and Damian’s final scenes are all fantastic and elegantly encapsulate all the growth and pain his character has gone through over the years. It is truly a heroic ending for history’s second dead Robin. Let’s hope Morrison and DC can stick to their guns though and keep Damian dead. As much as I enjoy the character I think the gravitas of his death is a necessary emotional element to Morrison’s grand arc. Talia’s tearful ‘moment of weakness’ was especially affecting as well, seeing the slightest bit of emotion from her at this point holds a lot of power and seems large, given its comparatively small display.
This a story where the family will have to deal with some real fallout and I cannot wait to be witness to the final four issues of this astounding story.
You died a proud soldier, so R.I.P., Damian – you deserve it.
FINAL SCORE – 4 OUT OF 5