writer: Gail Simone / artist: Jan Duursema / DC Comics
Before you do anything else with this issue, you need—not should, need— to take a minute to admire this gorgeous cover by Jill Thompson. Not only is the shading and anatomy fantastic, but there’s just something about the little details like the Nightwing wings on Dick’s tux, Babs’ motherboard pattern, and the gentle intimacy of their body language that ties this beautiful scene together. Frankly, it’s downright revitalizing to see this much story on a single comic cover in a medium that very much likes its muscly, brooding poses.
In contrast, our comic opens with the DickBabs ship sinking harder than the Titanic with twice the icebergs as Nightwing rushes to fight the alternate dimension Hawkman and Hawkwoman. Feigning a suicide dive in the Batwing, Nightwing seems to take advantage of the element of surprise only to have the entirety of his behind handed to him. Even in the heat of battle, however, the banter remains on point with actual wit as opposed to the typical jokester style that seems to pass in some comics.
Meanwhile, Oracle discusses her plans with a mysterious cloaked figure who turns out to be Black Canary, releasing her classic cry right into the ears of the enemy. This particular bit is brilliant because it shows off not only Oracle’s tech savvy, but her ability to recognize the need for others’ strengths to make up for her weaknesses. Now evenly matched, the duos of different dimensions battle it out hand to hand over the fate of Gotham once and for all.
If there’s one thing Gail Simone is (and she is many wonderful, goddess-like things) it’s a master storyteller; her dialogue is always natural and exactly right, never once wasting a panel on laborious monologues that tend to distract from rather than build up the characters. Jan Duursema’s art is also a treat for the eyes with its great command of expression and action without being too intense, a classic look from the end of the Oracle era. Even the ending, while perhaps a bit predictable, is sweet in a way that doesn’t feel forced or cliche (and includes some exciting Easter egg cameos for Birds of Prey fans). It’s definitely not too late to get your hands on this two-parter worth every penny. And if dulcet finales aren’t your thing? Let’s just say there’s a solid sneak-peek packed into the end that definitely caters to the opposite end of the genre spectrum. Like… “demon possession” kind of opposite.