Review by Ian Keogh
Requiem for Damian opens with a wordless issue of Bruce Wayne mourning the departed Damian. As he was alive and well in Death of the Family, it may come as a surprise for anyone not also reading Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated, specifically Gotham’s Most Wanted. However, it leaves rather the problem for a series titled Batman and Robin, and how Peter J. Tomasi addresses that conundrum begins here.
Artist Patrick Gleason carries the weight alongside Batman in that impressive dialogue-free outing, conveying the emotional despondency as Batman works out his frustrations the only way he can. Gleason supplies dark, shadowy and fractured pages reflecting the feelings in what’s a very skilful display from an artist more acclaimed for his action scenes. Gleason’s very good on the remainder of the collection, where the tone becomes a little lighter.
So what does a writer do when half his title cast has been given a leave of absence? Tomasi’s solution is sequence of five chapters each pairing Batman with someone else from the extended Bat-family. In turn there’s Red Robin, Red Hood, Batgirl, Catwoman and Nightwing all appearing as Bruce Wayne/Batman progresses through the five psychologically accepted stages of grief, the individual story titles being provided by denial, rage, bargaining, despair and acceptance. The resulting single chapter stories are powerful without over-emphasising the theme of each individual title, while being intimately connected to it. It’s admirable writing from Tomasi as Batman investigates methods of reversing death, not as improbable in the DC universe as in reality.
Gleason delivers the necessary emotional tension, but Cliff Richards over-dramatises, although he maintains the high standards when it comes to the action. Gleason, though, is better, his shadowy approach, choice of viewpoints and story breakdowns have a greater power and energy. The most acclaimed writer and artist teams seem to have an almost symbiotic relationship, each aware of the other’s strengths and bringing out the best in their collaborator. Tomasi and Gleason worked together on Green Lantern Corps before this run, and have been notable from the start, but Requiem for Damian steps up the quality. It’s well represented in the closing chapter which at first seems a lesser inclusion of Batman obsessively attempting to change events via video simulation, but actually makes a valid point extremely economically and proficiently.