Of course, since most people had Dick pegged as the new Bat from the beginning, really this series was more about the journey and seeing him get to that point. And from that point of view, the series kind of worked.
I say kind of, as Dick finally taking on the mantle of Batman at the end seemed a little rushed. To be honest, from the end of issue 2, I expected Dick to be in his new costume for this entire third issue. I guess they’re saving his proper debut for Grant Morrison’s new Batman and Robin title and really, this series was more about moving the characters into the places they needed to be for the start of that series.
On the whole, I’ve really enjoyed this series, and Tony Daniel’s done great work. His art has been excellent and while his writing is a bit more variable, he still did a great job in telling this story (really my only complaints were Damian in the first issue, and Tim’s very stilted conversation with himself in this third issue, explaining how he survived for the reader’s benefit).
There’s some very interesting setup, with the new Black Mask being revealed to be someone new wearing a mask. Of course, we don’t get it revealed who it is, but it provides some interesting ground for the new series to cover, with this new Black Mask shattering Two Face and Penguin’s empires providing an opening for him to move in as the new boss of Gotham.
Tim’s status is also left open at the end of this series. Its obvious that Damian will be moving in to the Robin role, and of course we’re assuming Tim becomes Red Robin, but none of this is actually covered here, and I think that’s a bit of a shame. It would’ve been nice for this all to have been put in place in this series and the new status quo established. Instead we’ll obviously have to pick up the new books in order to find out what happened. Given that this series was all about setting up the new status quo, this was one aspect that I felt could’ve been better covered (even if it had been more explicit about Tim handing over the role of Robin to Damian and left Tim becoming Red Robin until that series).
I liked the idea of the last messages Bruce had left for everyone in case he should die, and I really liked the idea that he had such faith in Dick and Tim that he felt they’d be able to carry on without him as Batman. Its nice that he felt that level of pride in their accomplishments, even if he was undervaluing the importance of Batman to Gotham City’s psyche. We also discover that Bruce’s message to Jason referenced some here-to unheard of childhood trauma that was what pushed Jason over the edge. And here Jason has truely gone off the deep end. This series does provide what could be an ending to the character, however from his “fall to his doom” and his parting words, its a safe assumption Jason will be back fairly soon. He’s worked well as a villain for Dick here and while it really didn’t work during Bruce Jones’ run on Nightwing, I think this is a rivalry that could be interesting if explored by the right writers.
Overall I’m very excited to see what the next few months of Bat-titles brings. Much like Bucky replacing Steve Rogers as Captain America, if done right, the pairing of Dick Grayson as Batman alongside Damian as Robin is one that could have some legs (even if you know eventually the original will be back). Of course, once Bruce does return, it’ll be interesting to see what that brings to the status quo. Bruce as Batman mentoring his son Damian as Robin could be interesting, with Dick reclaiming his Nightwing identity from the Superman family once again. However, for now, I’m very excited for Grant Morrison’s return in Batman and Robin.