We’re in that awkward spot right now where DC is waiting for the “Return of Bruce Wayne” series to wrap so it can move the Bat-world stories forward. The end result is that this issue is a bit of a placeholder.
Fabian Nicieza provides a story that might come across as extraordinarily sappy or even highly out of place with Bruce Wayne under the cowl, but given that Batman in this issue is still Dick Grayson, the story plays out a little deeper. When a “common thief” vexes the caped crusader, it’s the mouthy Damian Robin that triggers a “Wayne’s World” flavored flashback for Dick Grayson as he remembers a similar foe from his own time as the sidekick of the Dark Knight. That “common thief” is a legacy character tied to the long-forgotten Batfoe, the Getaway Genius.
Nicieza uses Grayson’s memories to try to add some likeability to Damian Wayne who takes a genuine interest in learning more about his father through a pair of conversations with Grayson and Alfred Pennyworth. It doesn’t entirely work, as “Kid Holier Than Thou” has been played up substantially to this point.
Richards’ art is solid, but unspectacular. The double-page splash that opens the issue feels like a drawing that’s been done before, and here, in particular, it needs a stronger visual punch. Richards has a vast amount of detail in his work, but leaves quite a bit up to Hannin’s coloring to complete. This gives us some very nice panels and some extremely average panels as well. The overall result is a story that looks rather plain.
Lurking in the background of this issue, Vicki Vale continues to be a thorn in the side of Batman. Grayson vents his spleen a little in her direction. I’m not the world’s greatest detective, but I’m pretty sure that the upcoming storyline in Batman’s books might have something to do with Ms. Vale and her quest to prove what she thinks.
This issue seemed poised for deep revelations, exciting subplots, and action aplenty, but it fell short in all areas. It is a nice little humanitarian piece, of sorts, that allows Dick Grayson to try to teach Damian Wayne a lesson on right and wrong, but it turns out to be an average comic. It does, however, do a good job of keeping the seat warm until all of the Batbooks are synched up for their next step forward.