Love it or hate it, Final Crisis happened. It was strange, dark, sometimes rambling and a bit unintelligible, but it happened and by and large the DC Universe that emerged from the event has been better for it. However, one thing has always bothered me about how things went down, specifically, the death of Batman. Perhaps it was because the whole thing was attached to a mostly unpopular story line, or maybe it was because we all knew for certain Bruce Wayne would be back, but the offing of DC’s most popular hero seemed a little underdone.
There was fallout, sure. Robin became Red Robin, Nightwing became the coolest Batman ever (oh yeah, I said it), we got Damain. Cool all around. But it never felt like anyone really mourned the Caped Crusaders loss. It was an empty hole in the story and it’s been gnawing away at me for quite awhile. When I saw the cover to Superman / Batman #76 my hopes were raised that finally something would be done. Thanks to Judd Winick and Marco Rudy, Batman finally gets a sendoff he returns.
The story is shown from Superman’s point of view as he attempts to deal with the loss of a close friend and crime fighting partner, from the moments immediately following the Dark Knight’s demise, to the autopsy, and finally to his response to Dick Grayson wearing the cape and cowl. There is absolutely no action, and the book is stronger for it. Instead we see big blue going through the five stages of grief and anyone who has lost a loved one will find a deep connection with events. Flashbacks give that bit of connection to the past we’ve felt when reminiscing about those who have moved on, granting the proceedings a powerful emotional edge.
Winick just nails it. There is a moment where Superman is about to go over the line and while many of us might believe a man can fly, it was the first time I believed the Boy Scout could snap. He was scary in his grief and it shook me, although the way the situation was rectified was a bit of a copout. I also can’t leave out the superb visuals from penciler Marco Rudy. In a story with very little dialogue, he tells the tale completely through his work. This guy is absolutely going to be a superstar. Remember his name.
My only complaint is I wanted more. Everything is wrapped up a bit too neatly. Moments where the deep emotional subject matter really pulls hardest end with a simple conclusion thrown out by supporting characters instead of Superman coming to the realizations himself. Still, readers are left feeling good about the time spent between these pages, and a bit better for it.
On a side note, be sure to stick around after the main feature for the preview of Knight and Squire #1. I was instantly stoked on what could best be described as Mystery Men meets League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Cool heroes so bad they’re good (the Milkman?) and kitschy villains galore. Check it!