Thursday June 11, 2009 5:14 pm
DC Comics Review: Batman #687
Rating: *** 1/2*
When DC announced the new direction they would be going with in the Batman books, I wasn’t happy. With this new direction would come a new monthly book called “Batman and Robin” which would be written by Grant Morrison. I wasn’t happy. Then came the news that Judd Winick would take over the “Batman” monthly title. Still not happy. I thought to myself, that I probably may end up not reading any of the Batman books that DC would be publishing for the foreseeable future or until Bruce Wayne returned as Batman. Well, if you read my review from last week, you know I was very surprised and absolutely enjoyed “Batman and Robin”. So what about Judd’s first issue of “Batman,” well, DC is two-for-two in my book as I absolutely loved this week’s issue of “Batman”.
The story is an epilogue to “Batman: Battle for the Cowl” and it shows some of the events that lead up to where Grant Morrison’s story begins in “Batman and Robin”. The issue shows various moments where members of the Batman family and the super hero community deal with the news of Bruce’s death. Some very moving scenes were done here, particularly the one in the cave with Alfred. I’m not a huge fan of Ed Benes’s art work, but he does a good job here with some moving visual images that set the tone of everyone’s feelings concerning Bruce.
As I said, there are some powerful moments in this book as we see Dick Grayson breakdown and cry over the death of Bruce Wayne, but the most moving scene come from Alfred. Superman and Wonder Woman return Bruce’s cape and cowl to give to Dick and Tim in the Batcave. As they discuss Bruce’s death, Alfred enters the cave with some refreshments for everyone. Superman asks him if he’s alright and Alfred’s response is, “Am I all right? No, sir. I am not. My son has just died.” I’m not sure if this sentiment was ever expressed by Alfred in any other comic, but for Alfred to say that about Bruce was dead on. Thank you, Mr. Winick. Bruce Wayne was orphaned, but he gained a father in Alfred from a very early age and Alfred has watched his “son” grow up to be a great man. I was happy to see that moment expressed here.
Dick finally does don the cape and cowl and accepts his legacy as hits the street to do battle with the Scarecrow who is holding Gotham City hostage once again with the threat to release his fear gas. Just as all looks lost, he arrives and the issue ends with a splash page of Dick as Batman.
Although you really can’t tell the difference of who is in the costume, I feel like I’m not really looking at the character of “Batman”. I still feel like I’m looking at someone pretending to be Batman. The character of Bruce Wayne embodies the feeling you get when you look at the Batman character in a story. With Dick behind the mask, you feel something different about the character or that image of the character Batman. Dick mentions at Bruce’s funeral that the name and image of Batman still lives and that it mustn’t die; it still inflicts fear in the criminal world. The writers of Batman comics must find a way to do that same thing with the comic book reader. When Batman comes on the scene in a story, you know he means business and the villains are in for a serious butt kicking. I don’t get that from Dick. Not to say Dick is not portrayed as a good fighter, but with Bruce, he was portrayed as being almost super-human and I think the writers need to show that Dick Grayson is as every bit as much of a bad ass as Bruce was. We need to “fear” him as much as the fictional characters of the DC universe feared Bruce Wayne as Batman.
Ed Brubaker has done a good job of that with Bucky as Captain America. He’s not Steve Rogers, but you know this guy can kick some serious butt on the same level as Steve did. If Dick comes across as being just Dick Grayson dressed as Batman and not the character “Batman,” the story of someone else behind the mask of Batman will not go on for long. We know Bruce is going to come back as Batman the same way Steve Rogers will return as Captain America, but you have to have fans feel conflicted because they will have come to accept the new guy as being the one holding the mantle.
I thought having Dick takeover as Batman would simply be a rehash of the “Prodigal” storyline we saw in the 1990s, but so far it’s been fun and different. It’s a much more interesting storyline so far than what we saw in “Prodigal” and I can’t wait for more!
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