Wednesday, March 13, 2013

SPOILERS: Batman #18

*Note: The context of this issue fits a little better having read Batman and Robin #18*

It's family night in the Row family, as Harper and her brother roll on up to Blackgate, to visit their recently imprisoned father. And, as you'd expect, the guy's a scumbag, making a crack at his gay son for his "own good." Harper gives her dad some serious shit, as he tells her to get her "little friend" off his back, something to which she has no idea what he's referring to.

As soon as Harper gets back to the hotel Wayne Enterprises has put them up in, she heads out, because you see, she's been trailing Batman for what seems to be a few months now, seemingly out of pure fascination. She's been trailing him so much so that she's recently noticed a distinct change in him. He's going all out, going after criminals no matter how small, never resting, and thus, leaving himself tied and open to danger in the form of carelessness more. It doesn't take much for Harper to realize what has caused all this, and that's loss.

The following night, Harper trails Batman to a confrontation with a dog fighter who has been injecting his dogs with Venom daily. The pack of dogs give Bruce quite a fight, but Harper manages to scare them off with a sonic frequency only the dogs can here. She ends up zapping the dog fighter in the balls with a taser and lets Batman finish him off.

Harper knows what Batman is going to say, but asks him to admit her training has paid off. Batman decides to test that training and straight up decks her, putting her through a fence. He continues to flip out, asking what she expected, him to see her fight, take her in, reveal all his secrets and give her a cape? The line of thought finishes up with him having seen people who have literally trained their whole lives fall, and she'd sure enough die as well.

Harper fires back at Batman saying she doesn't give a damn who he is, all she cares about is how Batman, the legend, is sort of fucking up at the moment. How reckless he's being, how open he's left himself, she tells him that he needs to deal with whatever he's facing, because if not he could be the one to die. Harper then continues to say that she knows he cares about her in some way, seeing that he went out of his way to get her father locked up. She tries to finish up with telling a story about something her mother would always say, but Bruce doesn't care, and tells her she's done, swinging off, leaving her alone.

The next day, Harper once again leaves her brother in the hotel room and heads off to try and get a meeting with Bruce Wayne. Surprisingly, Bruce is at Wayne Enterprises, having slept in the penthouse, and then being seen by Lucius, who dragged him into some meetings. Bruce's receptionist alerts him to Harper requesting to see him, to which he cautiously agrees to.

Harper is a bit surprised Bruce took the meeting, as Bruce begins to tell her that he doesn't have any direct oversight on the Narrows project, and she'd be better off speaking to someone else about it. But that's not necessarily why Harper is there. When Bruce asks what she really wants, she lets him know it's about Batman, and since he funds him, she figures he probably cares about him too. She wants to send Batman a message she believes could help, but doesn't exactly have the resources to do so. She lays out a blue print, and it doesn't take Bruce much time to agree to the project.

That evening, Bruce, as Batman, finds Harper on a rooftop, apologizing for the night before, to which Harper holds no grudge. She continues and finally tells the story of her mother, who apparently was murdered in a highly publicized case. Harper's mother said that family is funny in a way that it can drag one into darkness so quickly, and with that, the one drags others. But, it's up to that one individual to become the light that can help the family back from that darkness.

Harper's story strikes a chord with Bruce, who admits to having taken Harper's father in, telling her he had gotten mixed in with very bad people, and didn't want it coming back to haunt her and her brother. The two discuss their situations a bit more, but Harper eventually decides to leave, figuring it's best she leaves him alone for her "surprise."

Soon enough, after Harper leaves, lights begin to turn on in the offices of Wayne Tower, and once they're all on, the lights form a giant "R" on the side of the building.


The Good:

Harper is a good character. I've seen so much god damn hate for her on message boards for no good reason other than people like to bitch about Snyder now. Fuck that noise quite honestly, in two appearances Snyder (and Tynion) have fleshed out Harper to be a very likable character, with a solid set of morales and a certain reliability. Yeah, it's clear she's Snyder's new pet character being moved into the spotlight because he's steering the ship, but guess what, every character was new at one point, and have to start somewhere. Yet everyone will bitch about comics being old and repeating themselves. Oh and guess what, Harper Row is to Scott Snyder as Damian Wayne is to Grant Morrison, and I don't remember a whole lot of people liking Damian when he made his debut, just saying.  

Also, I wish Andy Kubert drew Batman more often, can never get enough of that!

The Bad:

For all that I enjoyed, one big mark on it was that little thought in the back of my mind of "This is totally Stephanie Brown inserted into A Lonely Place of Dying." I mean, the Brown comparison just comes from young girl with heroic aspirations that has a criminal father. But the Lonely Place of Dying thing just seems way too close to the original for my taste.

The Bottom Line:

So, all that being said, this was a great heartfelt story, with a character who I'm very interested to see more of. Snyder did exactly what he promised, and showed a different side to the Damian death reaction. It wasn't as emotionally impactful as Batman and Robin #18 was, but it hit all the right notes for what it was. The only draw back was just how familiar the story felt, and if it wasn't for that, I'd really have nothing to complain about with this issue.



  1. I think the lights are going cycle through and spell the word "Resolve" not just a R for Robin. I had the same con as you - this issue felt like deja vu of Lonely Place of Dying and a lot of the issues that came out after Jason died. I also much preferred Kubert's art to Maleev's - Kubert draws the heck out of Batman.

    RIP Damian.

    1. Eh possibly, the R looked pretty distinctly as the R from the Robin logi

    2. It was indeed part of the word Resolve. Harper said it would cycle through the letters, and it fits with her story.

      I'm excited to see what Harper will bring to the Bat Universe, but it makes me miss a certain blonde haired waffle muncher....

  2. I'm confused though, why didn't Harper Row not notice that Robin was missing?

  3. I still don't think Harper will be Robin (I don't hate her I just see her as more of a Harold/Oracle mix).

  4. I like Harper, I think there's something there with that character for sure. Will she be the next Robin I don't know but she will definitely have something to do with Batman and his recovery. besides we're going back to the past in 3 issues so...

  5. I mean my problem with this character is that it's so slow....introduced in the first arc with a teaser, an issue introducing her next then a whole arc WITHOUT her and now another issue with her and we know a whole another arc is coming which won't include her (Year Zero). the pacing is awful.

    1. 1. Snyder hasn't said Year Zero would be 100% in the past and went out of his way to avoid that question. 2. Harper is next appearing in Detective Comics 21