Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders (Movie) Review

Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders (Movie) Review

If you love Batman as much as we do here at CGM, chances are that you love all versions of Batman. It’s the versatility of the playboy crimefighter that makes him so damn enduring and endearing. Of course, those who love the many variations of Batty usually adore the first live action rendition of the character played by Adam West in the 60s. All of the darkness was scrubbed away to embrace the pure pop art insanity that the caped crusader and his colourful rogues provided. It’s one of the most purely entertaining comic book adaptations in history and somehow it’s back. Obviously West and Ward are too old to strap on the tights again, but their acting chops haven’t lost a beat and Warner Brothers’ DC Animation went ahead and did something magical by reviving vintage Bat-sanity for one of their most entertaining features to date in Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders. Holy direct-to-DVD animated classic, Batman!

Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders (Blu-ray) Review 6There were persistent requests for this revival of old timey batty-ness. DC launched a Batman 66 comic book a few years back that has been reviving fan dreams ever since. This animated feature isn’t exactly a direct adaptation of the comic, but by virtue of just how obsessively the Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusader sticks to the classic formula it might as well be. Giant props, absurd Bat devices (including anti-Bat-antidote, because why not?), on screen onomatopoeia, endless cliffhangers, mountains of camp, and of course plenty of hilarity. This thing is so loaded with fan service that barely a second of screentime passes without some sort of satisfying reference (even to other representations of the great Batmen from pop culture lore) right down to some hilarious bat-dancing end credits.

The plot is as delightfully nonsensical as you’d hope and barely even worth describing. Bruce Wayne (Adam West) and Dick Grayson (Burt Ward) are going about their usual routine when they discover a new crime plot being perpetrated by none other than The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin, and Catwoman (Julie Newmar!) in a team-up of dastardly proportions. With none of the budgetary limitations of the 60s show in play the adventure quickly goes to space and beyond. One twist involves an unexpectedly evil Batman who even clones himself for maximum Gotham stalking potential. It’s all completely insane and absurd, but never less than hilarious and entertaining. There are jokes within jokes within references within innuendo within punchlines within action scenes. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, from the opening credits featuring gentle parodies of famous Batman comic covers to a grand finale that involves every villain to appear on the classic series.

Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders (Blu-ray) Review 5Granted it’s all nonsense and a plot that changes gears dramatically every 20 minutes, but even that feels like an accurate representation of the show that’s hard to resist. The art is a mix between the DC Animation house Bruce Timm style and the old 60’s designs that you love. Production values are noticeably higher than the recent Killing Joke feature that irked many. It blasts off the screen, especially in HD Blu-ray. You’ll want to leap out of the way when the “biff” “boom” “bang” graphics explode across your TV, but you won’t because you’re an adult (even if the movie has a magical ability to make you feel like a kid again). The impersonators in the voice cast standing in for departed greats like Caesar Romero and Frank Gorshin fill in admirably, but obviously a major part of the appeal of this project is the presence of Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar. They slip into their old roles comfortably, dipping into the ironic acting that they created and getting big laughs with ease. It’s a joy to hear them again and a relief that the filmmakers behind this project provided a script worthy of their monster talents.

Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders (Blu-ray) Review 7Now, it goes without saying that Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders isn’t high art. It’s just pure entertainment designed to push nostalgia buttons in the most pleasing way possible. There’s nothing of weight that viewers will get out of the experience, but it is a joy for those who love this slice of Bat-history. Sadly the extras department is a little lacking on this disc. There are two ten-minute featurettes on the film and the cast featuring interviews with all the notable players (hilariously West and Ward keep complimenting the writers for “updating” the material, even though it’s all 60’s nostalgia). However, they are so brief that they feel like promo material and it’s a bit of a rip-off to get featurettes selling you something that you already bought. But hey, what can you do? If the only complaint that can be held against the Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders Blu-ray is that the special features aren’t as satisfying as the giddily entertaining main event, then we are still very lucky Bat-fans who can and should feel grateful for this wonderful release. Best of all? The gang is already at work on a sequel based on the infamous Two-Face episode of the 60’s series that was dropped because the network worried it was too dark. At the time Clint Eastwood was going to play the role, now it’ll be William Shatner who will enter a camp-off with Adam West. In other words, we live in a magical nerdy era and should all be grateful to be alive.

Nightwing Rebirth #1 (Comic) Review

Nightwing Rebirth #1 (Comic) Review

As many throughout the franchise’s long history have pointed out, sometimes the most interesting Batman stories are those who don’t involve the Dark Knight himself.

Nightwing Rebirth #1 (Comic) Review 2That includes a lot of tales involving Dick Grayson—Batman’s first ward—the boy wonder that eventually grew up to become Nightwing. Seeing his transformation (and eventual fate, if you follow the Frank Miller-verse) has been fascinating, and although many deride Robin as a by-product of the forced comic “sidekick era” (partially true), he has evolved into something worth discussing and remembering as the years have passed. Nightwing Rebirth has some problems with re-using a lot of old storylines, but it continues to give us a look at Grayson’s take on fighting crime and his transient nature.

While the first issue does a great job of explaining the story so far, the Rebirth format is definitely not as intuitive as the New 52. Here we have an established and respected Nightwing returning to Gotham City, and all of the baggage that comes with that. The status of his identity, the fact that he was briefly Batman, and even a spy named Agent 37, are all laid bare, but barely touched upon. So if you’re looking to go in completely fresh after a long hiatus, you probably need to do some light reading.

Nightwing Rebirth #1 (Comic) Review 3Ready for a primer? An evil Justice League ruined Grayson’s identity, and he subsequently went underground (and undercover) to work as a double agent for the evil spy agency Spyral. Oh, and the Court of Owls (heralded as one of the best Batman villains in recent years) is back as the Parliament of Owls, under new management. Beyond that intro we’re re-introduced to what’s basically a new and improved Nightwing, one who is not only a capable fighter, but a loving and appreciative family member—especially in regards to Damian Wayne, Batman’s son, another Robin.

Nightwing Rebirth #1 (Comic) Review 4What we get is a lot of intimate moments with some questionably meme-heavy writing (the dialogue is mostly fine, but the jokes are cheap shots or fall flat). I’m talking Dick and Damien at the arcade, hanging out and talking shop about what it means to be super, with some added Batman baggage to boot. Another classic Nightwing coming of age trope is revisited here, like the fact that he doesn’t really belong in Gotham even though he was raised there; his purpose is to move where he’s needed. All of these themes I’m enjoying as they unfold, and are a nice contrast to Batman’s reserved, static nature.

Sporting a lighter blue than Batman’s getup, he also clashes nicely with what we’re typically used to from artist Paquette, and that hue is kept up subtly throughout, even with flashbacks and shadows. He doesn’t actually become Nightwing again until the very end of the first issue, but it’s a sufficiently cheesy and welcome moment—especially when the great Rebirth costume is unveiled.

I typically check out Batman’s retinue every few years or so instead of following them week by week, but I think I might change my tune for Nightwing Rebirth. It hasn’t given us a whole lot to get excited about other than another rehash of Court of Owls (if it ain’t broke), but naturally there’s potential to take that concept into a new direction. At this point I’m just glad that Dick Grayson is still around, relevant, and doing his own thing.

Batman and Robin Eternal (Comic) Review

Batman and Robin Eternal (Comic) Review

Batman and Robin Eternal is DC’s second attempt at a weekly serial and while it has its moments of intrigue and suspense, nothing quite matches up to the scale or the thrill of its predecessor, Batman Eternal.

Written by the returning creative team of Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, Batman and Robin Eternal has an interesting plot of following two timelines throughout its run. The present, where Bruce Wayne has forgotten he ever donned the cowl, and seven years into the past where Batman and Robin are having their first ever encounter with Jonathan Crane, the Scarecrow.

Batman and Robin Eternal (Comic) Review 2The two timelines collide when Dick Grayson returns to Gotham after working as Agent 37 for the covert operations agency known as Spyral. It’s during his encounter with returning character, Cassandra Cain, that the plot is set into motion. After a brief bout, she says the word “Mother” and hands Grayson a USB device originally belonging to Batman. The device has a recorded confession of Batman saying he’s sorry for what he did in the past and that whatever he did all those years ago might be the biggest sin that he’s ever committed. A list of names is also attached and it’s time for the leaderless Bat family to come together to figure out Batman’s secret and save the day from whatever evil may come.

Despite titling this as a Batman and Robin story, the dynamic duo are not the main characters of this story. With Bruce out of commission the plot is carried by his first three wards, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd (Red Hood), Tim Drake (Red Robin), along with newly added members Harper Row (Bluebird) and Cassandra.

Batman and Robin Eternal (Comic) Review 3Batman is the more prevalent character in the past timeline where he is dealing with an inexperienced Dick Grayson. After their encounter with the Scarecrow and Robin ingesting a health dose of fear toxin, the boy wonder begins to feel like he’s worthless and proves to be more of a liability to Batman. It’s during this time where Batman first meets Mother, who promises to give the Dark Knight an heir worthy of his ability if he does as she commands and kills the parents of an innocent family, leaving their child an orphan. The ending to this Batman side story will come as no surprise to its readers.

As the family splits up to tick off the names on Batman’s list, they repeatedly encounter a new villain known as Orphan. Donning a white assassins uniform, Orphan proves to be a formidable foe, having the strength and skill comparable to that of Batman. He works for Mother as her right-hand man and has a dark teacher-student relationship with Cassandra. When the two characters interact it’s clear that there was quite a history of tension and bad blood. Discovering the backstory of Orphan and what he dreams for his young protégé is one of the more interesting tales in the plot. The weakest part of Orphan, however, is that his conclusion throws out everything he stands for. It’s sad to see a villain with such an inflexible mindset, break down everything in a final moment of “redemption”.

Batman and Robin Eternal (Comic) Review 5Mother has the potential to be an incredible villain; she mirrors Batman by recruiting children to her cause and is quite skillful in manipulating anyone she encounters. Her backstory is dark and gives good reason for why she feels so attached to orphans. Unfortunately her ambitions as a villain leaves much to be desired. Mother is one of the weakest parts of the story because she turns out to be a mundane, run-of-the-mill, Batman villain who just wants to take over the world. She does this by controlling every child on the planet with the same strain of fear toxin that Robin suffered from in the past. It’s a shame that her inner circle, Orphan and the Sculptor, turn out to be more memorable than their leader. The story builds up this character to be such a strong force of power, but by the end, Mother’s only purpose is to serve as character development for Harper and Cassandra and act as a poor final boss.

Harper and Cassandra are the best part of this story, which doesn’t bode well for a tale where the Robins are meant to be our protagonists. The two quickly bond as friends and grow throughout the plot. Their relationship is constantly tested in the most extreme of ways and for the most part this was what kept me engaged enough to continue reading. Harper used to be a whiny, annoying-brat, sidekick to Red Robin in the original Eternal. With the help of Cassandra, however, I actually began to appreciate her as a character as she underwent a variety of trials and heroic moments.

The same could not be said for the Robins. The three wards settle into their clichés fairly early on and never get out of the pit for any real development. Grayson is your typical growing leader who shows the most heroic qualities. Todd is our comic relief as he deals with the madness around him. Drake is easily set up as the know-it-all nerd. I would’ve loved for these three to stand out and develop in new ways, but no risks are taken with their characters and their stories are played out very safe.

Batman and Robin Eternal (Comic) Review 1Batman and Robin Eternal is a story that suffers from a lack of risk and planning. I was excited for this serial because the work on its predecessor paid off so well but maybe the magic is gone and fresh blood needs to step in to create another story worthy of being Eternal in readers minds.

Batman: Bad Blood (Movie) Review

Batman: Bad Blood (Movie) Review

I’ve been pretty conflicted about Warner Brothers Animation’s recent string of Batman adventures. On the one hand, they’ve loosely adapted one of my all time favourite Batman runs: Grant Morrison’s epic 7-year Bat-journey that attempted to deconstruct and revive every era in the character’s history. As expected from Morrison, the sprawling narrative was complex and serpentine, not exactly the type of story that fit the direct-to-DVD action romps that Warner Brothers Animation favors for their DC properties. So, the powers that be essentially dropped all of the complex and deep cut strands of Morrison’s story to focus entirely on the Damian Wayne/Bat family arc. Fair enough, there’s some good stuff there. The trouble is that so far, these adaptations have been paper thin, essentially taking the simplest elements of Damian’s tale and little else. Batman: Bad Blood takes my favourite arc of Morrison’s grand Bat-Odyssey and transforms it into a 72-minute fight n’ cameo fest designed for electric guitar stings. It’s fun, but disposable. God-willing it’ll be the end of this era of DC animated Bat-features, because it hasn’t been the best.

Batman: Bad Blood (Movie) Review 4Things kick off with a big ‘ol battle between Batman and a gang of D-level villains not even worth mentioning. Batwoman makes her debut in the fight, so cue some one-liners between the two bats. Then it all ends in an explosion that Batman doesn’t appear to escape from (oh no!). With Bruce Wayne out of the picture, Dick Grayson picks up the Batmantle and fights alongside a wise-crackin’ Damian Wayne who can’t believe Dick thinks he can replace Bruce. Faux Bats also starts chasing down Batwoman, so that we can learn her tragic origin story and why she enjoys using guns. From there, Damian is kidnapped and we learn that Talia Al Ghul was actually beyond all this wacky action, having kidnapped Bruce as part of her long term goal of making an army of Bat-clones (that’s what Damian was kiddies!). Plus she’s also involved in a mind-control plot with the Madhatter. Eventually that means that Bruce is briefly transformed into an Batman, requiring Nightwing, Robin, and Batwoman to form a Bat-family to stop it.Not sure what this means Luke Fox (Lucius Fox’s son) becomes Batwing to add an additional Batfamily member. Why? I don’t know. Cross-promotion, I guess.

So, as you may have gathered by now that’s a hell of a lot of plot to cover in a 72-minute movie. Well, it’s made worse by the fact that there’s an action scene at least every 5-10 minutes. There’s even less time for exposition as a trim 70 minute feature would normally allow, making all of the storytelling clunky and uncomfortably rushed. Batwoman fares best, with the intriguingly dark Kate Kane origin story covered well in its brief appearance. Batwing could not feel more tacked on and is little more than a distraction whenever he pops up. Sadly the Dick-Batman/Damian Wayne relationship is nowhere near as entertaining as it was in Grant Morrison’s comics, which played like Adam West’s Batman on acid. There’s too little screen time to develop their unique dynamic and the DC Animation house style doesn’t allow for Morrison’s surreal digressions to play a role. I was pleased to see Tali Al Ghul’s twisted plot from Morrison’s arc make an appearance, but sadly it isn’t developed properly either and the filmmakers cop out and dodge the tragic ending that it should have been building towards.

Batman: Bad Blood is a muddled movie to say the least. The folks in charge of the DC Animated Universe clearly couldn’t decide on which story to tell, and trying to tell four or five didn’t provide satisfactory versions of any of them. Beyond a few token efforts at depth—like Dick Grayson painfully recalling what it was like to grow up in Bruce’s shadow—the movie avoids all psychological complexity in favour of cramming in as much Bat action as possible. Thankfully, the film is at least directed by Jay Oliva, who is a master of animated Bat action, so each and every one of the endless action scenes has style to spare. They are fun to watch, no doubt about it. Unfortunately, without much in the way of narrative or characterization to match all of the punch-punch, boom-boom these sequences don’t have the same impact as the incredible work Oliva delivered in The Dark Knight Returns that made him the go-to house director for these direct-to-DVD features. It’s all empty spectacle, but on the plus side it is a fun and amazingly animated empty spectacle. So that’s something.

Despite ending on a sequel-baiting character introduction, I hope this is the end to the current run of DC Animation Batman flicks. Ever since Son Of Batman there has been a visible struggle to define the tone and purpose of these animated features. Thankfully, the movie doesn’t cram in needless fan pandering like the Court Of Owls plot in the last movie (which was there only in an attempt to win back disappointed viewers after Son Of Batman, only to disappoint them further by not doing it properly). Nor is the movie as irritatingly adolescent in its Bat-brah writing as the last two features (although there are some awkward moments like Dick calling Alfred a “total badass”). Bad Blood is probably the best of the last few connected Batflicks, but only because the filmmakers recognized that the action sequences were the best part so they focused almost entirely on those. There’s no denying the fights are beautifully staged and the movie is worth watching just for them. It’s just a shame that it’s all the DC Animation team delivered this time, given the depth and potential of Batman’s Universe.

Batman: Bad Blood (Movie) Review 5Batman: Bad Blood does at least look and sound fantastic on Blu-ray. The team cranking out these DC animated features are supremely talented and the production values are impressive. It’s nice to have 2D superhero animation done this well, even when the scripts disappoint. Amusingly, even the special features seem to grudgingly admit the movie is a one-trick pony. Usually these discs are filled with featurettes full of DC Comics luminaries discussing the history of Batman and how the film adds to the legacy. This time the biggest feature is a 30-minute documentary dedicated entirely to Jay Oliva’s action sequences. It’s interesting, but it’s amusing that it’s the only thing that the filmmakers have to say about this lackluster effort. Next up is a 13-minute doc about all the members of the Bat-family that covers the basics of their origins and appeal with little depth. Finally, we get a couple episodes of Batman: The Brave And The Bold that are fun, but so tonally different from the main feature that they feel somewhat out of place.

Click here for your chance to win a copy of Batman: Bad Blood.

Dick Grayson to become Super-Spy after Forever Evil

Dick Grayson to become Super-Spy after Forever Evil

DC Comics has announced what will be happening to Dick Grayson after the events of Forever Evil. He’s going to become a super-spy.

The new title will be called Grayson and will have Dick working for the spy agency Spyral. Batman Incorporated fans will recognize Spyral as the organization of Dr. Dedalus, a master Nazi criminal. After his death his daughter Kathy Kane, the original Batwoman took over the organization and turned it into a spy agency.

The cover to Grayson #1. Art by Mikel Janin.

After the events of Forever Evil where his identity is revealed to the world, and the announcement of Nightwing’s cancelation in January, fans have been speculating that Dick Grayson will be killed.

The title will be written by Tim Seeley and Tom King who is a former CIA counterterrorism operations officer. The art will be done by Mikel Janin who is the original artist for Justice League Dark.

The first issue of Grayson will be released July 2nd, and the final issue of Nightwing will be out later this month.

Batgirl / Robin Year One TPB (Comic) Review

Batgirl / Robin Year One TPB (Comic) Review

Over a decade ago, while Chuck Dixon was writing the adventures of Dick Grayson as Nightwing, he went back to the beginning for the character, and penned a four-issue mini-series called Robin Year One with Scott Beatty, with each issue being 48 pages long.


Not long afterwards, Dixon and Beatty returned to roughly the same era, and told a slightly different origin story, with Batgirl Year One, telling the tale of Barbara’s first tentative adventures as Batgirl. Ever since DC Comics rebooted their continuity with the New 52, we’ve gotten some curious new trade paperbacks collecting pre-New 52 material, with this particular collection the latest addition to the back catalogue. On pure value alone, this volume is a fantastic deal, as you get the four-issue Robin Year One, which is like getting eight comics, as the issues are double-sized, plus you get the seven regular-sized issues of Batgirl Year One, for essentially 17 comics for just $28.99 CDN. It does make sense to combine these two mini-series into one volume, as they share the same writers, as well as the primary artist behind the books, as Marcos Martin handles the artwork with Javier Pulido on Robin, and then takes on the sole artistic chores for Batgirl. Both books have a similar sensibility, in large part because of Martin’s artwork, and take place in a time period that is very similar, so it’s a natural step on DC’s behalf to package these books together.

Although both mini-series had their respective strengths, it’s Batgirl which is far the more charming of the pair. Beatty/Dixon craft a timeless retelling of the origins of both Robin and Batgirl, although it should be said that in Robin’s case, we sidestep the actual origin of Robin, and instead are shown his partnership with Batman progressing, despite some rocky moments in the early goings on. My few issues with Robin’s mini-series include modifying his portrayal somewhat, so that at times it almost feels like we’re seeing elements of Jason Todd’s personality grafted onto Dick Grayson. That being said, I do like seeing Robin and Batman disagreeing and not quite gelling as a finely tuned team yet, and it does expose the natural difficulties the two individuals would encounter as they begin their partnership. In fact, at times when reading this mini-series I realized that there are some parallels with how Peter J. Tomasi wrote Damien Wayne in Batman & Robin, with both getting in over their heads with some particularly bad customers, during a temporary break in their partnership. The two mini-series also complement each other well, as through Robin, we see Batman first realizing the danger he’s put Robin into, before eventually making his peace with it when he realizes that Dick Grayson is a tough young man, and a fitting partner in the war on crime. This sentiment carries over to Batgirl, as Bruce is at first very reluctant to let Barbara operate as Batgirl, partially because of how he dealt with letting Robin in on the crime fighting game in the first place. Commissioner Gordon also plays important roles in both stories, as he questions the safety of a young boy joining Batman in his dangerous mission, and then does the same when a young woman similar to his daughter starts using the bat-symbol and takes the moniker Batgirl.

In case the stories weren’t as entertaining as they are, the artwork would be more than enough of a reason to pick up this collection. This is a young Marcos Martin at work, still developing and tweaking his style, and at times bearing similarities to Darwyn Cooke in all the right ways. Nowadays his artwork feels like it has descended from John Romita Sr. and Steve Ditko, but over a decade ago his style felt more like Darwyn Cooke, as he captures a certain timeless nature in his storytelling style. There’s a delightful innocence in the artwork, and it helps that he’s illustrating these young heroes in their formative adventures, back before the world of DC Comics became dark and cynical, long before Dick Grayson allowed Blockbuster to be murdered, without raising a finger to stop it from happening, and long before Barbara Gordon was shot, paralyzed and molested by the Joker. Before all of that stuff happened, to darken and make these characters more “realistic”, they were written with a sense of humour and fun, and it’s that era that these two mini-series makes you think of and remember fondly.

Both Batgirl and Robin Year One are heartfelt tales of innocence, of kinder, simpler days, when Robin and Batgirl tentatively took their first steps towards their long, colourful and adventurous careers in crime-fighting. Dixon, Beatty and Martin are at the top of their game in these stories, and by the end of Batgirl Year One, you’ll be ready to go back to the beginning and read these stories all over again, as they’re just that good. Highly Recommended!

 

Batman and Robin Volume 1: Born To Kill (Comic) Review

Batman and Robin Volume 1: Born To Kill (Comic) Review

For years I avoided the Batman books, or at least the flagship Batman book, because I wasn’t a fan of Grant Morrison’s writing, and he was steering the Batship for DC Comics. As a result, I never read too much of Damien Wayne as a character, but wasn’t that big a fan of the character, and didn’t read much of his adventures with Dick Grayson, when Grayson had donned the cape and cowl to become Batman. That being said, I’ve been a fan of Peter J. Tomasi for quite some time, as he and Patrick Gleason were a force to be reckoned with over on the Green Lantern Corps book. So when DC’s NEW 52 occurred, and Tomasi and Gleason took the reins of the newly relaunched Batman and Robin, I was interested to see what this great creative pairing could do not just with Batman, but also his son, Damien, now Robin. I found myself pleasantly surprised, as they managed to subtly alter the character, insomuch as I found him extremely entertaining to read, without being so fundamentally altered that he wasn’t still the same character. The subtle evolution of the character is great to see, and there’s nuances involved that Tomasi hits brilliantly. This collection includes Batman and Robin #1-8.

With Bruce Wayne once again the only active Batman, and Dick Grayson having retaken his old identity of Nightwing, Bruce starts his working relationship with Damien Wayne as his new Robin. However, Damien isn’t just another soldier in Batman’s never-ending crusade, he’s also his flesh and blood son, which makes for many complications in their relationship. Further complicating things is the arrival of a face from Batman’s past, Henri Ducard’s son, now known as Nobody, who wants to take a particular kind of revenge upon Batman, and wants to manipulate Damien into helping make it all the more painful for Bruce.

As I’ve already said, the ability that Tomasi has to make Damien likeable yet still at times irritating is a testament to his skills as a writer. With Bruce Wayne, he finds a way to make him a caring father, yet also the same Batman we’ve always known. He’s not that great at opening up to his allies, and his son is an even greater challenge for him to connect with. I actually liked that Robin has already proven himself as Dick Grayson’s partner, but now it’s the big test as he finds himself paired up with the one, true Batman (no disrespect to Dick), and he also happens to be his own father. Their struggles to understand each other, to connect to one another, make this a book that works on more than just the typical superhero level. It’s also about what it means to take a life, as it’s a core tenet that Batman has built his life around. The villain has no issue with doling out mortal justice, and he tempts Damien to do the same. And even with the resolution of that particular story beat, it’s easy to wonder if Damien makes the choices he does purely out of doing what is right, or because he wants to be like his father, and is patterning his choices upon his father’s own moral decisions and sense of right and wrong.

Patrick Gleason does a fantastic job with the artwork in this collection, particularly with the facial expressions from the main characters. You can really sense the anger in Bruce Wayne, the sense of feeling lost and unsure of what to do with Damien, and Alfred’s own grave concern for yet another Wayne generation. The action is quite well handled, the book is suitably moody, and the dark moments are suitably so.

This is a fantastic book, and it really makes the reader care for and understand the relationship between both Damien Wayne and his father, Batman. It’s interesting to see Batman in the role of an actual flesh and blood father, and more so because his son is fighting his own base instincts, because of how he was initially raised to be a highly adept killer. Tomasi makes this a must-read book, and it serves to ground these characters and their vital relationship with one another. Recommended!