This issue finds Damian on his own as Batman is off investigating a couple of murders in a cemetery. People who witnessed the murders claimed zombies attacked and killed the groundskeeper and security guard. To make matters more baffling, corpses are missing from many of the coffins in the cemetery and signs show that things weren’t taken from the coffins but rather something pushed its way out from the coffins. With all the strange things Batman has had to deal with in his time as the protector of Gotham, I’m surprised he doesn’t really seem to care for the idea of there being a supernatural cause to all of this.
So, Batman mostly stays in the background investigating the alleged walking dead while Damian is on his own throughout most of the issue. I think I’m finally starting to like the little brat for once, or it could have just been a one off. Damian’s rough demeanor is in full force throughout but he has the makings of a hero in him, going as far as disobeying his father to look for missing people. From time to time, you still want to slap the kid, but you can clearly see where he’s starting to grow and realize that defending the weak isn’t a paltry task.
Before he goes off to save anyone, Damian is investigating something in the sewers and finds himself squaring off against a giant green lizard…thing. You know, I’m glad that the series seems like it might start to play with the more bizarre and supernatural elements out there. The first Batman and Robin series, the one that featured Dick Grayson as Batman, was all about these ridiculous threats and I’m glad this series still remembers that.
Our Robin is able to make quick work of the monster he tracked down, knowing all too well that it wasn’t just a random monster hanging around in the sewers. The thing was after Damian specifically. Why? Talia, Damian’s mother, has put a hit out on her son and is offering an obscene amount of money to anyone who can bring him to her dead or alive.
All of this ties back to the opening of the issue, the first few pages. There’s a solar eclipse going on and Batman takes Damian to space to monitor their surveillance satellite. Since the Joker’s come back, Batman doesn’t want to leave anything to chance as the satellite has a tendency of getting buggy during eclipses. There’s some great page compositions here, showing off the Earth from space in all its glory. Maybe it’s because I saw the Red Bull space jump a few days ago, but I’ve been finding these high-up shots of the earth to be pretty astounding so far.
While Batman and Robin are checking out the satellite, Damian poses a question to his father. The boy wonders whether or not his father ever loved his mother. It’s hard to imagine he would have any feelings about her after everything she’s done, tried to kill him and put a hit out on her son, but Damian is curious. Batman offers that he might have loved her for the briefest of time. The Dark Knight shoots the same question back at his son, who replies that his mother has a hit out on him for 500 million dollars. That whole conversation is my favorite part of this comic. It’s almost as if Damian is still looking for a reason to love his mother or to believe there might be some good left in her, but even his dad doesn’t seem to think there’s much hope in that cause.
This conversation is in space and there’s something I love so much about that. Out in the great expanse, the two have only each other and are finally able to connect without all the noise down on Earth. There’s darkness and isolation all around them, the Earth is teeming with people down below and it’s only up there, away from everything, that the father and son are able to share a pretty profound moment with each other.
While Death of the Family is going to take center stage in the main Batman title, you see some of the effects of it here. Everyone is on edge while they’re investigating the Joker and Batman wants his son to stay at the mansion. Speaking of, Damian notices that Alfred isn’t at the mansion but doesn’t think much of it at the time. In Batman 13, we see the Joker break into the mansion and attack Alfred. You’ve got to wonder just where the ever-loyal butler has been dragged off to.