This issue accomplishes two very different things. On the one hand, it solidifies James Jr.’s role as Barbara’s arch-nemesis. He knows everything there is to know about his sister, her friendships, her history, and her motives, and he’s willing to use all that to hurt her. James is very different from most villains in the DC Universe, in that he’s family. He’s a psychopath, but he’s family, and with that comes a level of knowledge that is rarely matched with your everyday villain. What this issue also does, is it demonstrates just how much the New 52 has affected the Bat-titles. Pre-Flashpoint, Barbara (Oracle) and Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) were both an integral part of Batman Inc.; they were a part of Batman’s trusted inner circle. And the fact that Barbara had to find out that Damian died from her father seems remarkably telling of her role in the new 52. That being said, the way it was handled was great. From the commissioner’s reaction and phone call to Barbara’s reaction, it was handled tastefully and didn’t feel even the slightest bit forced. 4/5
Remember that time when your child was sad because your dog died, so you went out and bought a cat the very next day? Remember how that was a bad idea? Apparently Scott Snyder and DC disagree. Harper Row makes her return to Batman, and what was actually a decent issue is marred by the fact that this was supposed to be a Robin Requiem issue. The entire issue was about Batman working himself too hard because of his grieving, which was the only link this issue had to Robin, and Harper Row doing what she does best – stalking Batman. The way Snyder is writing Harper’s character, with an origin similar to Tim Drake’s original origin, it’s as if he’s already replaced Damian. Unfortunately, he chose an almost inappropriate issue to feature her in. Harper’s a decent enough character, but she’s too much like Kitrina Falcone and Tim Drake for me to take seriously, and honestly, I don’t want another Robin right now. 2.5/5
When it comes to honoring the dead, Tomasi, Gleason, Gray, and Kalisz have established themselves as the best. Tomasi chose to make this entire issue a silent one, allowing the illustrations to tell the tragic story of a man who lost his son, and another man who lost his grandson, of sorts. The story is written so well and illustrated so beautifully, that it’s more heartbreaking to read than the issue where Damian actually dies. It was also quite nice how the story conveyed the different ways in which the men were mourning. It felt as if Bruce, who had so little time with Damian, was mourning the times that they should have had together; while Alfred was mourning the boy he helped raise. This issue is hands down the best issue of the series, and unlike Batman #18 is an issue deservedly marked “Requiem.” 5/5
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