[The following review of Batman Incorporated #8contains SPOILERSfor the issue that goes on sale today in comics shops and is currently available for digital download.]
Batman Incorporated #8
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Chris Burnham, Jason Masters and Nathan Fairbairn
Lettering by Taylor Esposito
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Looks like there was a Death in the Family after all. We were just looking for it in the wrong place.
DC put most of its marketing eggs into Scott Snyder's basket with the conclusion of his Joker-centric "Death of the Family" storyline, but one of the major complaints of that arc was the fact that the Clown Prince of Crime's big scheme turned out to be bloodless. Not so here, as the Morrison who giveth also takeths away, snuffing out his most popular creation in a decade: Damian Wayne, the son of the Bat and the modern-day Robin.
So it makes sense that for his final flight, Batman Incorporated #8 is all about Damian. Zooming through a horde of brainwashed, homicidal children with a suit of jetpack-enhanced armor, Damian is all business, even as you sense Morrison prepping his eulogy. Perhaps my favorite scene would be Damian's reunion with Dick Grayson, the first person he ever partnered with: "We were the best, Richard. No matter what anyone thinks," he says. Nightwing's response is perfect: "Hey. We can't help being great." There's a ton of opening action with Damian, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake (and even Batman gets a nice gravity-defiant beat as he races to save his son), and that's when this book is at its best.
Yet the actual big plot point here — namely, Damian's death — doesn't quite have that iconic edge that Jason Todd did when the Joker beat him to death with a crowbar. Chris Burnham portrays his fatal one-on-one with his mutant clone as particularly brutal, with arrows peppering the air with bursts of blood, but his experimental layouts (and Morrison's script, which also makes Damian's last words sound less than heroic) prevent us from getting one big splash image to sear itself into our memories. That all said, those same layouts add some great drama to the book, particularly as panels looking like shattered glass portray the jump between Batman diving off a rooftop to Damian being smashed through walls and glass cases. Jason Masters also does a great job throwing in for a few pages, delivering a kinetic action sequence with Red Robin that flows superbly.
The biggest problem with this issue is the fact that the actual impact of Damian's death has been reduced because Morrison has already ended with that cliffhanger before, back with Batman Incorporated #1 — when you fake out Damian's death once, and it's actually a surprise, it can be a thrill (albeit a cheap one). You know from the cover all the way to the New York Post what's happening here, so the actual death isn't a surprise — and the actual method isn't quite gruesome or fitting enough to stick. But make no mistake, this is a big moment in the life of Batman and his extended family, and this is far from a bad book. Anyone interested in Gotham's future should give this book a read — and considering how far Damian Wayne had to come to become accepted as the new Boy Wonder, I think that's about as fitting of a sendoff as he could get.
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