Thursday, March 14, 2013

Batman #18

(w) Scott Snyder     (a) Andy Kubert

Can we all stop pretending Harper Row isn't going to be the next Robin? Whenever you see "This ends now" or "It's over" without a death afterwards, it means it's not over...and it's not anywhere near being close to over. This element of comic book logic might seem obtuse, but it has merit. Days before the release of Batman #18, Scott Snyder announced his next arc, "Year Zero", and that it would be 11 issues long. Basically, the next year of Batman is going to be about the Dark Knight's earliest days, which means it's going to be a while before Snyder gets around to telling Harper's story. But that's part of the beauty -- now, we've got something to look forward to even after the next thing we have to look forward to, and isn't that what comic books are about?

All joking aside, Batman #18 from Scott Snyder and Andy Kubert is another great look at effect of Damian Wayne's death on his father. After the emotional head-trip that was "Death of the Family", Snyder wisely makes Harper the focus of the issue, leaving a grieving Batman at arms-length from the rest of his family. Losing an immediate family member is incredibly painful and can lead to feelings of resentment toward others who cannot possibly understand that kind of pain. For Batman, this resentment is compounded upon exponentially due to his very nature as well as his overwhelming feeling of responsibility for his own son's death. It would have been a train wreck if Snyder attempted to tackle Bruce's feelings with inner monologue.

Harper Row is going to be one interesting Robin, to say the least. Each of Batman's Robins has their own unique personality. If Dick was the passionate one, and Jason was the brash one, and if Tim was the witty one, and Damian was the one with the attitude, then Harper Row is the realistic Robin. Harper and Batman's confrontation brings out the darkest in the Dark Knight and most anyone else would have crumbled under the weight of Batman's terrifying reputation. Not Harper. Unlike the songbirds before her, Harper's life has been one obstacle after the other which has made her more rough around the edges than the boys who've held the mantle before (except Damian, perhaps, but his was a more refined talent). She's not afraid to rebuff Gotham's protector and tell him the reality of what's going on around him when no one else will.

While I'm excited for the upcoming "Year Zero" arc, Harper Row is what truly interests me now about Scott Snyder's Batman. Since the 'New 52' launched, Harper has been around and that's no coincidence. I'd be shocked if Snyder killed her off. I'd be even more shocked if she didn't become the next Robin because who else is there? Seriously, it's the next logical step. But it's a good next logical step.