Batman and Robin make it to Paris to assist Nightrunner, Paris’s Batman Inc. representative, as he deals with a breakout at Le Jardin Noir, the Arkham Asylum of Paris. The three of them take on four inmates that have been freed by a villain who has been made to look like one of Gotham’s notorious villains.
First of all, I thought that this was a very good issue. The story was strong, the pacing was good, it was all good. However, I do think that the story suffered from having been squeezed down from a series of issues to one issue. I felt that while the references gave a certain level of sophistication to some parts of the story, some of the references ended up being more of a hindrance. I thought we were too hastily introduced to five new villains, especially considering this was the final issue of the series. Which brings me to my second point; this didn’t really feel like a final issue. And I know that the Bat books aren’t getting much of a reboot come September, but regardless, this series is ending. It’s the end of Dick as Batman and Damian as Robin, and taking into consideration just how important that relationship was for the first 16 issues, when everything was simple and constant, I thought that this issue just felt completely out of place. 3.5/5
An enemy from WWII has resurfaced and kidnapped Phantom Lady and Lady Blackhawk. As the rest of the Birds race to find them, we learn more about the events that led up to this moment many years ago. As is the case with many power hungry villains, this massive Nazi absorbed way too much power and inevitably destroyed himself.
This is another example of a series’ final issue not feeling like a final issue. The arc is over, and it feels like the arc is over, but it doesn’t feel like the next issue of Birds of Prey is going to have major changes, which it is. Like with Batman and Robin, the main cast is going to change and this issue is oblivious too all of that, which I take umbrage with. However, that aside, this issue wasn’t all that bad. It was a light-hearted, fairly carefree story. Artistically, the Birds were portrayed far more, for the lack of a better word, dainty than I recall them being in recent history. This was really weird, considering these are some of the strongest, both emotionally and physically, women in comics. Besides that, though, this was a decent conclusion to the arc. 3/5
As this arc and series comes to an end, all of Snyder’s running plot threads intertwine and blend into one all-encompassing horror show. Barbara, who had been kidnapped in the last issue, wakes to find herself a captive of her brother. After revealing that she always knew something was off, in the mind, with James Jr., she risks her own death to try and stop James Jr. Luckily for her, Dick had slipped a tracking device on James Jr. and arrived just in time to stop the freak and save Barbara.
With the reboot looming over us, many stories have suffered; this one did not. Snyder does a tremendous job weaving a brilliant story that is beautifully illustrated by Jock, Francesco Francavilla, and David Baron. James Gordon Jr. is easily one of the best new villains to arrive in Gotham, which is saying something, because Morrison’s run had some wicked cool villains. What makes James Jr. stand out, in my opinion, are the ties he holds in Gotham: son of the police commissioner, sister to Oracle, childhood acquaintance to Batman, and child of Gotham itself. If you couple his ties with the fact that he’s a psychopathic genius, you get a miniscule sense of how terrifically creepy he is. Regardless of how successful or unsuccessful the reboot ends up being, this final arc will go down as one of the best arcs I have ever read, and probably ever will read. 5/5
Ever since the vile Boomerang was resurrected at the end of Blackest Night, it was a matter of time before Tim went after him, considering he was the man who killed Tim’s father. Red Robin set things in motion where Boomerang believed he would regain powers he lost, while in actuality he was meant to die. Situations and events were put in place by Red Robin, where a single act of good by Boomerang would have kept him from being killed. Unfortunately for the villain, there was no spark of goodness. However, at the end of Red Robin’s test he resisted the temptation and let Boomerang live.
Now, this book definitely came to a conclusion with this issue. From the very first issue this series has been remarkable. The story and art have remained consistently strong throughout, even after a creative change. Nicieza and To’s story ends with a resounding bang as Tim Drake becomes the man he was meant to become. He has grown into his own as a superhero and as a character. We are witness to his growth in this issue as he handles things with Boomerang in ways that neither Bruce nor Dick would have. How much of Tim’s growth will move on into the new DCU won’t be established till September, but it would be a detriment to the character to reverse this excellent development. I am terribly bummed that this series will not be coming back in September, and even more annoyed that Tim won’t be headlining his own title. This series has been utterly fantastic and DC is making a mistake canceling it. 5/5
Superboy Prime, trapped in this universe, has formed a team of supervillains specifically chosen to counter one of the Teen Titans. To make matters worse, Superboy Prime brought three Superboy clones with him. Even with all of that power, Prime and his lackeys were almost defeated when they instead chose to try and destroy Titan Tower, where a new obstacle appeared.
What I think is really great about this final arc is that it feels like a tribute to Teen Titans of the past. Not only does Krul bring in villains of the Teen Titans’ past, but I thought it was fantastic that at the very end he also brought back past members of the Teen Titans. The Teen Titans have always been a group that takes care of their own, so it’s a nice homage to the history of the series to have the final arc end with a gathering of Titans both past and present. 3/5
The second arc and first volume of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents comes to an explosive conclusion, literally. The 80s sequence chronicles Iron Maiden’s escape from house arrest upon being released as a result of Dynamo’s deal. The present day sequence gives us front row experience to the destructive relationship between mother and daughter, a direct consequence of Iron Maiden’s escape in the 80s. The final 60s sequence gives us the final glimpse at the love shared between Iron Maiden and Dynamo.
Iron Maiden, without a doubt, stole the show in this second arc. Colleen is pissed at her mother for multiple reasons, and while I get that, I don’t particularly care. On the other hand, Iron Maiden is probably the most interesting female villain I’ve ever read. The greatest thing about her is that she’s unlike most women depicted in comics. She’s a mother, but she doesn’t care. Iron Maiden didn’t leave behind her villainous ways for her child, she did it for Dynamo, for love. And when he was taken away from her, she had no reason to stay behind. The series is taking a couple months off and I can’t wait for it to start up once more. 4.5/5
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