Writer – Peter J Tomasi
Artist – Doug Mahnke
The mastermind behind Batman’s trials and tribulations over the course of the last few issues stands revealed as Bruce himself. All the death and destruction Batman has encountered was a gift to himself for his birthday. It’s an opportunity to better himself both physically and mentally, a chance to be at his peak performance.
Young Bruce takes Batman and shows him three graves: two belonging to his parents and one for himself. Bruce wants to remind Batman that his parent’s deaths are not an impetus to exact revenge on evildoers, but to bring them to justice. The price of justice for others was the ‘death’ of Bruce’s childhood. He is okay with this because it means other children can have the childhood they deserve before the darkness and evil of the real world overtake the innocence of youth. Batman symbolically buries his young counterpart and Bruce has some final words of wisdom: be your best and never question the mission because Gotham needs you.
In the Batcave, Batman is shown wearing a cybernetic suit inside a stasis tube, as Robin and Alfred rush to check on him. Batman’s new simulation program has worked perfectly. Robin asks Batman what he means by this and Bruce tells Damian that this is an annual rite of passage on his birthday, so he can evolve as a hero to honor the oath he swore that fateful night he became Batman. Bruce’s greatest fear is that one night, when he needs to be stronger, faster, and smarter, his best won’t be good enough when it counts the most; which could lead to the death of those he is trying to save or even himself. Batman goes to his computer and shows Damian and Robin that one hundred and eighty-two people have been murdered in Gotham this year. As Robin and Alfred tell Bruce that there has been a steady decline in the number of people killed every year since Batman has been active, Bruce says he won’t be happy until that number is zero.
The issue ends on a happy note with Bruce taking the night off (for a few hours anyway) to take Alfred and Leslie out to dinner. A chance for old friends to get together and enjoy the important things in life: each other’s company.
Leslie Tompkins is alive! A lot of comic fans cried foul when she was killed off at the start of this storyline. Some may argue what was the point of the last few issues if it was all ‘a dream.’ First, it was a nice opportunity to reflect on the individuals that helped Bruce become Batman. Although the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents led to the birth of Batman, many overlook the fact it took many years of learning and adaptation to transform a young orphan into the Caped Crusader. I thought it was great to introduce that every year Batman tests himself on his birthday to become a better version of himself. Aren’t our own birthdays a chance to grow and mature as individuals? As Batman celebrates his 80th anniversary this year, it was nice to reflect on his journey so far and I think Tomasi did a fantastic job over 5 issues.
Next issue: After 80 years, it’s here—the 1,000th issue of DETECTIVE COMICS, the title that literally defines DC! This 96-page issue is stacked with an unbelievable lineup of talent that will take you on a journey through Batman’s past, present and future…plus a sensational epilogue that features the first-ever DC Universe appearance of the deadly Arkham Knight! But who is under the mask? And why do they want Batman dead? The incredible future of Batman adventures begins here! In Stores – March 27th, 2019.