Home > Comics, Reviews > Comic Review: Batman #18

Comic Review: Batman #18

Batman #18 Alex Maleev Andy Kubert New 52

Ragged cape, ripped costume, grizzled stubble and all rage, Batman is throwing himself headlong at the street thugs of Gotham City and only Harper Row can save him in Scott Snyder’s Batman #18.

Andy Kubert and Alex Maleev spell Greg Capullo to bring the plucky, hard-nosed Harper to life in this intense character study that may have grand implications for the future of Batman in the New 52.

After the bombshell death of Robin Damian Wayne in Batman Incorporated #8, what should have been a breather issue for Scott Snyder instead becomes one brimming with emotional poignancy and humanity, making it truly worthy of the Requiem cover tag. This isn’t Bruce Wayne sobbing over a gravestone; it’s Batman with a death wish.

Many fell in love with the technologically gifted Harper Row after she saved the Dark Knight in Batman #12. Months later, we take the story again from her perspective as she tracks Batman’s increasingly reckless nocturnal activities.

Harper follows Batman by tracing the same citywide grid she discovered in issue #12. She sees a broken, angry Batman, and she’s determined to help him out again. This time, however, there are some curious additions to her modus operandi.

One, she spends much of her down time beating the hell out of a punching bag in her apartment.

Two, she’s adopted a black catsuit for her nighttime Bat stalking.

Three, she’s developed her own rudimentary grappling system.

It’s pretty clear what she wants, but can the broken Caped Crusader possibly consider putting another sidekick in harm’s way so soon after losing Damian?

Batman makes all the denials you would expect, but Snyder has two more issues in the present before he jumps back for the Batman Zero Year arc in June. Harper Row is his creation, and he’s clearly carrying the torch for the Bat books these days. So if we’re getting a new Robin – the first in-continuity female Robin – it would make sense that it’ll happen in the pages of Batman.

Given the start, this will be a mini-arc you won’t want to miss.

While Greg Capullo’s art is always much-appreciated, Kubert and Maleev’s relief efforts prove to be just the right style for establishing Harper as a would-be hero. Whether sporting her flannels or roof-hopping in her black jumpsuit, Harper is drawn with equal parts edge and charm.

Snyder’s writing is subtle and strong as always. He keeps the narrative with Harper instead of diving into Batman’s head. We join Harper as voyeurs to Batman’s pain: we see the surface, but can only guess at the depths.

The transition from main story to backup is absolutely seamless. It reads best as one story, and Kubert and Maleev line up well enough that the change isn’t jarring in any way. James Tynion IV joins Snyder on writing duties for the second act, which holds a touching emotional turn at the end.

Batman #18 is an emotionally-charged character study that quietly does justice to the Robin legacy without overplaying its hand. It looks forward, not back, and presents Batman with a natural new candidate for Robin that is hard to argue.

If you’re worried about moving on from Damian so soon, don’t worry: by the end of this story, you’ll want to give Harper Row a big, warm hug.

9.5 out of 10

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