So after reading the first eight issues again, I will say that there are things I like about it, but for me a lot of it still comes off as unnecessary.
One thing I really liked was the exploration of Talia as a character in this. One of the things I’ve not liked in the past was how Morrison seemingly jettisoned all the nuance and grey morality of the character and made her straight-up evil. But in issue 2, we get a look at her history, how she was born and raised, some panels feeling straight out of what we had seen with how Talia raised Damian. We see how she is constantly gaslit and slighted by her father, always pushed aside unless it’s to be used to gain a male heir (which he really only wants to take his body over so he can continue to live).
While I’ll always prefer the more conflicted take on Talia, and the idea of her slipping Batman a roofie will NEVER sit right with me, Morrison’s take on Talia is similar to me to their take on Magneto in their New X-Men run: not exactly the take I see, but I can get what they’re going for.
But I think the thing that feels off for this series with me is the pacing. Morrison’s work has always been fast-paced and crazy, but I think the problem is that it gets constantly interrupted. Like, first issue starts the conflict, then the second completely veers away and details Talia’s origin. Third issue starts with Matches Malone stuff and then ope, gotta do that #0 issue thing every other book in the New 52 is doing. Issue 4 gets this big mansion fight with all the Batman Inc characters duking it out and the next issue…swerves completely around and we get a potential flash forward of Damian as Batman. After that the series doesn’t have to stop and we get some forward momentum, but I think by that point the damage was done.
Speaking of the flash forward – I’m unsure of how Talia was supposed to be involved in that. From what was said in Batman & Robin, that future was supposed to come about when Damian offered his soul to Simon Hurt to save his father, and when Bruce, Dick and Damian defeated Doctor Hurt, that was supposed to have destroyed that timeline. So is this a different timeline, or was Talia involved with Hurt somehow?
(As an aside, something I don’t know if it mattered to me before, but seeing Barbara jokerized and shoot Damian in the spine hits WAY different to me now and while I get it’s intentionally supposed to be wrong, it doesn’t feel very…earned, I guess.)
Since I’ve been overly negative, I will say that something that I really liked was Damian’s last hour. Him teaming up with Dick again was a blast, and his battle with the Heretic was heartbreaking – not just because it was to save the life of an innocent (someone who we’ve actually been following since almost the start of Morrison’s run on Batman), but because even in the bitter end, Damian was trying to appeal to Talia’s heart. As shown in the Talia issue, and as far back as his first story, all Damian really wants is to be with both his mother and his father.