It’s all coming to a head now.
Following last issue’s gutting moment, the next two chapters are a pretty standard affair, though very clever. The first starts with Damian’s funeral, but we intersect between it and scenes of Bruce and co. fighting off his killer until they’re forced out of Wayne Tower, at which point everything seems to come to a sudden halt, continuing onwards at this steady pace all the way until the fourth chapter’s ending. Indeed, it’s quite like a kettle boiling, quiet at first but building itself to a roar. It’s not just Bruce and those closest to him that are completely stunned, however – we see the Squire mourning Cyril’s death; Gordon hiding his Batman Incorporated badge as the Mayor of Gotham announces that Batman is no longer welcome in the city; and other characters, Tim and Dick specifically, begin to plot their revenge for Damian’s death. It’s the same all over the world apparently, at least where Batman Inc. is centralised – we see that El Gaucho, Man-of-Bats and Raven Red, Jiro (the Batman of Japan) and the Batman of Paris (forget his name, I’m afraid) are contending with their own problems too, also seemingly stuck in the stalemate of this war.
Things are certainly not looking good, possibly moreso in the second of these issues where we not only see Bruce witnessing the Gotham Police Department destroying the Bat-signal, Gordon watching on sadly, but that he’s being held responsible for the mess that the city’s in – how it’s being held hostage by Leviathan – because he funded Batman Incorporated. At the end of the day, though, Bruce is not going to sit by and watch his city eat itself alive, and he’s certainly not going to give in to the demand Talia sends his way. But get this: his plan involves Doctor Langstrom, yet another throwback to the beginning of this run. If you can’t remember, he’s the man whose wife Talia kidnapped in Batman and Son to force him into giving her his man-bat serum, which she’s of course been using ever since. So I did some chin stroking when I saw that Batman had paid the Doctor a visit, considering that he may have not only just taken the antidote to the formula off the doctor but done something else too… Cut to Bruce in his Batcave, slumped in his chair in a pose we’re all too familiar with at this point, the one that mimics that in Year One as he becomes Batman, the difference this time being that it’s literal as he injects himself with the man-bat serum, arriving with a legion of bats from his cave in a terrifying fashion in time to meet Talia’s demands. If I were Damian’s adult clone, I would be worried now.
The build up to that exciting reveal aside, there’s other interesting developments taking place. In the first book collecting this series there was a meta-bomb, apparently kept in the possession of Otto Netz, brought up, only to disappear. It reappeared at this late stage in the run a while ago and what the mysterious box apparently does is activate the Oroboro weapon that Netz referenced, one that will quite literally create a ring of death around the world, simultaneously nuking whole countries around the globe if activated. As a possible counter to this, however, there is the similarly secretive crystal that Bruce has in his possession at Wayne Tech. So it seems like one object is Talia’s last resort, and the other Bruce’s ace in the hole, so I guess we’ll see these playing a role as of the next or last issue.
Meanwhile, the other thing I expect that will play a big role in our finale is Kathy Kane’s angle. So, here’s an interesting thing. A few issues ago I said that The Hood brought Jason Todd to Talia, continuing his triple agent business, or whatever the hell he is. But, actually, it’s the “Headmistress”, leader of Spyral, that he brings him to. Though it appears that she could have villainous intentions in the first of these issues, as the new Knight – the Squire having taken Cyril’s place – and Dark Ranger come to rescue Todd, the latter character actually refuses their help, recognising who can only be Kathy and the gravity of “what’s actually going on here!” Hm. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what to expect here. All I can muster up is that Talia could be the second grave that Bruce is supposed to be and maybe Kathy’s the one responsible for her death, but it seems like she has a bigger trick up her sleeve when Jason says something as dramatic as that. Oh, well. Not long to wait at least.
The last point of interest is a very small detail that some readers may have skipped past in the scene between the Prime Minister of Britain and his assistant. The former is scrambling for some way to revive the Knight when he says, “I realise there are no active Lazarus Pits left”. This should be true because back in Batman and Robin – in the third story arc, I believe – we found it being used to bring back the clone of Bruce and Batwoman when she died, but the mine this was hidden in caved in even as the characters were there, effectively rendering it useless. Yet the assistant tells the P.M., “That may not be strictly true”. Now, I don’t expect that this will be some major part of the finale in the way of the meta-bomb and Kathy Kane, but I do suspect that this may be the kind of thing Morrison ends our run with a reminder of, perhaps with the suggestion for a future writer to come along and bring Damian back from the dead. Curious stuff, eh?
Thankfully, with two issues to go, we’ll get every answer we could want very soon. My entries for both of these should follow this one sometime today, and I may even begin my last post on the run or a draft of my “contents page”, as it were. Until then.