- Release Date: 13 March, 2013
- Publisher: DC Comics
- Story By: Scott Snyder, Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV (backup)
- Art By: Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope, Alex Maleev
By now, even casual comic fans know that Damien Wayne died in BATMAN INCORPORATED #8. And to make sure that everyone knows, DC has plastered a “REQUIEM” banner, with the “R” rendered in Robin’s logo design, across the majority of the covers of Bat titles this month—not to mention the big “In Memoriam” ad pages inserted everywhere.
And so, it is with great pleasure that I report that BATMAN #18’s strength lies in failing to even mentioning Damien’s name.
Batman has been driven to his breaking point, for sure—and we all know why. Even Harper Row, a popular character introduced in Issue #12, knows why. But there are no awkwardly inserted “weeping at the gravesite” scenes (I’m looking at you, DETECTIVE COMICS), nor are there overemotional flashbacks of capes billowing in the wind. In BATMAN #18, Scott Snyder just tells a story. It’s certainly a story about family, and it happens to parallel other ones, for sure—especially in Harper Row’s protective love for her well-meaning, nigh innocent brother Cullen. But it also stands on its own, outside of any greater “events” that DC might be trying to sell us.
Why dock it a few Frankenstein heads? Because I miss Greg Capullo’s artwork. Alex Maleev does a fabulous job with the backup chapter of the story, and Andy Kubert’s style works perfectly during the first jail visitation scene—providing Harper and Cullen with a sneering bobblehead of a father. But during action sequences, Kubert’s pencils bring a kind of broad, stoic familiarity, which is passable, but somehow ordinary in comparison to Capullo’s sinister angles. Call me a sucker for the Snyder/Capullo creative team, if you will—because I am.
Luckily, even amongst the greater themes and fabulous final page, the dialogue continues to step up to the plate, smoothing all edges: “My mother always told me that family is a funny thing. That nothing can drag you into the darkness faster… but she also said that by staying strong, you can become the light for those who need you most… That’s what I wanted to do tonight. Remind you that this city is your family, and that we need you to be the light.”
Listen up, DC: BATMAN is your best selling title month after month, not because it boasts anything “shocking” or “game-changing”, but because the stories and writing are consistently great. Trust the story. It will always come out on top, in the end.