Writer: Tom King / Artist: Matt Wagner/ DC Comics
After a run of emotionally heavy issues, Batman #54 is a breath of fresh air. The issue sees Dick Grayson return to the fold to support Bruce Wayne, who’s still in a dark place following his failed relationship with Selina Kyle.
As the most emotionally stable member of the Bat-family, Dick takes on the same responsibility that many children of depressed parents do.
The story isn’t quite as nuanced as much of King’s stories have been. This isn’t a bad thing. We got plenty of nuance in the previous Mr. Freeze storyline that challenged the lofty notions of faith, guilt, and honesty. In other words, watching Nightwing and Batman take on low-level villains like the Crazy Quilt and the Condiment King was a welcome change of pace.
While the issue wasn’t quite as emotionally stimulating as previous storylines, it wasn’t absent of the occasional tug on the heartstrings. The story goes back and forth in time, as many of King’s stories do, between the present day and the past where a young Dick is still mourning the loss of his parents and is fighting back against the idea of being a charity case for a lonely billionaire.
As time goes on, we see Bruce — and Alfred — work tirelessly to help Dick through his dark place as he welcomes his new life and learns to deal with the loss of his old one. In the present day, Nightwing blatantly tells Bruce that he’s clearly depressed, which is understandable, and that he’s there to support him regardless of if he wants to feel better or not. It’s a really touching gesture.
In 53 issues, this is the first time that we’ve taken a dive into Dick Grayson’s relationship with Batman. Sure, he’s shown up a few times. But that was usually with other Robins/Bat-trainees around to force him into the big brother role he inherited. But this is the first time we got to see King explore the father/son or big brother/little brother relationship that Dick and Bruce have always had. It’s an interesting spin. As we see that their relationship isn’t too much of either, but more of something in the middle.
Matt Wagner returned to Batman in this issue and the vastly different art style works. In a way, it’s reminiscent of the older runs of the series that make the flashbacks seem even more rooted in the canon of the story.
8.0 out of 10
Reading Batman? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.
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