I was able to get through the pain of Snyder's last issue Requiem which dealt with a loss I have yet to still get over with as well even if it's been almost a year since I read it in Batman Incorporated. Batman: Requiem was a great issue, filled with insight and compassion, which was made even better with the appearance of Harper Row and how well she handled Batman's grief by reminding him all the good things he had stood for in Gotham City--and how much ordinary Gothamites like her are not ready to lose their hero just yet.
On a more objective side of things, Snyder's Batman run has been gratifying even when it has a few hit-and-miss moments when it comes to its overall storytelling structure (I have expressed before my slight disappointment over the second arc of the Owls storyline; and my somewhat mild criticisms over the conclusion of the Death of the Family storyline). But as a fan, those things did not deter me from continually reading his line-up because DC made the best decision to make Snyder its writer for the series, and he still knows what kind of punches to deliver and how much they can wound, and nothing could be more reflective of this skill than his more recent storyline, Zero Year which I'm presently reading and enjoying right now. But I digress. Let's talk about this issue first.
The issue opens with a baffling and thrilling sequence that features Bruce Wayne robbing a bank and killing someone. He was quite smug about it too. I was mouthing "what the fuck" quietly to myself the entire time I was reading it until a flashback from six days ago helped me understand that there is more than meets the eye from what I just read in the said opening. It's back to business as usual, even though Bruce is still reeling, picking on the wound that has yet to scab by re-watching videos of him and his late son touring the streets, fighting crime, back when that spunky Robin was still alive. And I thought I have no more tears to shed at this point but losing someone you love is losing a part of you that can never be replaced again, and though these are fictional characters, I grew up with Batman and I fell in love with Damian Wayne in Tomasi's stories, so the loss to me is very much real.
So back to the story. Bruce refuses to go to a friend's funeral because he's understandably in no mood to further deal with any more grief, and instead focuses on uncovering a baffling development on the side which has something to do with the villain Clayface. Said villain has evolved into something more menacing and by the last few pages, with a confrontation between Bruce Wayne and Clayface, we finally figure out the opening sequence. So far, I like the way this plot is executed and how Snyder is able to alternate between gritty, hard-hitting action and the more intimate level of Bruce still recovering from his son's death. Nothing defines Batman more than how he deals and copes with loss after all. And this issue showcases how he tries to get his head back in the game or he may be defeated by an enemy who has found a new way to torment and possibly destroy him for good.
Overall, this is a solid issue. Nothing was wasted in the pages. The small moments of humanity from Bruce Wayne are also always a welcome treat for me. There is also a quaint short story by James Tynion IV entitled GHOST LIGHTS at the end of the issue. It featured Batman and Superman encountering a ghostly apparition. It sounds weird but it works especially since good ol' Clark tries to comfort Bruce in the beginning but Bruce refuses it. And yet they must aside their personal baggage and deal with the monster at hand. I ship BatSups forever so it's nice to see them interact briefly in this issue.
* A grounded and stable narrative that picks up right after the resolution of Requiem that puts Batman and the readers back on track with the crime-fighting spectrum.