Cover Rank: 9/10. The concluding chapter of a mini-series can be tough cover to get right. Generally speaking, there’s a lot of balls in motion that can interfere with the message of the story without spoiling the conclusion that the previous issues have spent months building up to. Try as I might I can’t think of a more fitting image to cap it all off. The pantheon of heroes united, rising up with Jake in the forefront, arms spread as if embracing all, is exactly the crux of the story and they truly nailed it by having Nightwing’s logo provide the backdrop, symbolically watching his son accomplish this after having been the cause for the division in this alternate world. Dick may have set this all in motion, but it falls to his son to repair the rift.
Best Variant Issue: Alas, there is no variant for this issue
What I Like: Like any good story that’s conflict centers around heroes vs heroes, the grey areas that get explored between the two ideologies are where the best stuff comes from. The ability to empathize with both sides, at least to an extent, are what makes a story of this nature resonate. You can see the untenable position Dick Grayson finds himself in. He triggered the bomb from Apokolips that negated ninety percent of the world’s meta-human superpowers following an out of control Superman incinerating Batman and a massive battle between the “heroes and villains” devastating Metropolis. They had grown beyond control and had to be reigned in. On the other side is a handful of people who have retained their abilities due to unexplained resistance to the bomb (primarily former members of the Teen Titans) alongside a depowered Superman and his ally Lex Luthor, attempting to restore the freedom of choice to the individual. There are definitely some parallels to be drawn between this and Marvel’s seminal Civil War.
Caught right smack in the middle of it all is young Jake Grayson. Not only is he not affected by the bombs after effects, which requires permanent sedation until they can figure out an alternative way to inhibit his abilities, his body naturally counters it, which in turn provides a potential cure for the affected people. He idolizes his father but is reaching the point where he sees the need to follow a different path. What follows is a race against time to crack Jake’s unique nature in order to undo it all as the Crusaders (Dick’s trained task force led by the former Batwoman Kathy Kane) and the metas who support the initiative attempt to stop them.
What I Didn’t Like: There’s two things I personally didn’t care for. The first being Lex predictably turning on his allies, though admittedly it’s not quite in his usual fashion. After restoring Superman as a test run, Lex plans to unleash the opposite of the original bomb causing everyone on the planet to gain powers. He refuses to return to being a normal man in a world of titans. Unfortunately that means sacrificing Metropolis in the ensuing blast, but he’s undeterred as it’ll get him what he wants.
The second is primarily based on my personal bias: I fundamentally disagree with every choice they have Dick make through the course of the series, but as its the premise it’s all based upon, I can roll with most of it. However there’s one moment in particular that bothers me more than it probably should. Dick trades for he and Jake’s freedom, by throwing everyone else to the wolves. We’re talking his former best friend Wally West and Jake’s mom Starfire here, and he’s giving them up to the people who killed Alfred earlier in the series. It’s just such a non Dick Grayson thing to do I have trouble accepting it. It is true however, that if he didn’t do this we wouldn’t have gotten this next part.
Best Moment: Jake saves everything. Upon abandoning everyone to fight it out, we see Dick escaping with an unconscious Jake in an attempt to flee the country to safety. Jake FINALLY gets through to Dick by putting everything in to perspective and how he sees it all as his fault.
This moment begins the redemption of Dick which I had been waiting for since the inception of this title. He’s made some hard decisions while always believing it was for the best of reasons. They say the road to hell is paved by such men. I really appreciate the fact that with such limited exposure to what came before his birth, Jake cuts right to the heart of the entire Batman/Robin dynamic. The necessity of Robin is to bring balance to Batman’s view of the world. It keeps him from giving in to the darkness in which he has chosen to submerge himself in in his war on crime. Something Dick himself has lost sight of.
This leads them back to the battle being waged, which is also the location of the bomb that Lex triggers once Superman is restored. The sheer scale of the device is such that Clark can’t stop it alone. Jake then pleads the case for setting aside the fight in order to prevent a catastrophe. Uniting what moments ago were bitter rivals in a concerted effort to save the city and its people.
Ending: 8/10. While they saved the city, the bomb still went off. Everyone now has powers. And, hey, the world didn’t end. We get to see a handful of glimpses of Jake’s life going forward, primarily of a personal sort. It closes on Jake holding his infant son Richard. It’s not very often we get such a comprehensive look at the personal life of these characters before and after a major event. It tends to pause on those beats just long enough before moving on to the next crisis, which really suits this particular story well in my mind.
What I’m Looking Forward To: Unfortunately this is the end of the saga and I doubt it’s one that will be revisited anytime soon. There are still some threads out there that could potentially be spun into a story, so we could possibly see how the world evolves when overrun with meta-humans at some point in the future, but as it stands, I’m very satisfied by what is here being the end of this trip in a divergent timeline.
Overall Score: 9/10
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