Please let the record reflect that I am still not over the disastrous tragedy that has happened from the previous issue I read and reviewed yesterday. I just don't understand. Is this my punishment for taking a long hiatus from Batman comics? I don't know. I'm far too sore to care but I knew I had to keep reading and see for myself how Gleason will resolve all of this in the painful aftermath of the unfair murder of the clones. In this concluding piece of the Year of Blood arc, Damian Wayne learns the true meaning of atonement. Basically, this issue rocked it!
So, as I've said, I'm still reeling and healing from the cosmic joke that was Gleason's murder of the Damian clones when he once again assaulted me with feels, the inconsiderate bastard! Now I'm usually a tough cookie and don't fall for such obvious emotional manipulation but I'm already in a very vulnerable position since the last issue so I guess it can't he helped. I'm a sucker for drama concerning my favorite characters, okay?!
Before I ceremoniously list my feels for this concluding piece, I would just like to point out that I finally got information concerning the timeline of this title. Damian's adventures to cleanse his bad juju from his Year of Blood trials fell during Scott Snyder's Endgame story arc in his own title which explained Damian's understandable absence during the Joker riot that broke out in Gotham. At this point, all he knows is that his father is 'dead' (and he was even cynical about that, considering no one stays dead for long, as evidenced by his resurrection just last year), but he opted to go back to his home if Batman has indeed gone missing. Somebody has to look out for the city in the meantime. This was a good enough excuse to put him back on the spotlight of things in Gotham especially since there's a Robin War about to take precedent (I have asked for this two years ago during that unfortunate Terminus storyline in Tomasi's B&R). Anyway, back to the plot!
The final issue for Year of Blood was a phenomenal rollercoaster of fucking feels. First off, it opens with ten-year-old Damian at the last trial of his Year of Blood where he goes off on a bloody rampage, slaughtering a group of unsuspecting pitiful bat-like mammoth creatures in a cave somewhere. You could see he was nearing the end of his wits and endurance, possibly really exhausted that he had to kill his way to deserve the name and legacy of the Al Ghul clan. He finished murdering these poor creatures until there was only one last survivor; an infant creature whom Damian challenged to a fight. This was no other than his soon-to-be pet and loyal companion Goliath, who has accompanied him and Maya Ducard since the first issue in his route to undo all the damage he had inflicted during said Year of Blood. Just look at these beautiful panels below:
Meanwhile, after taking over some guy's empire without even breaking a sweat, Talia then tried to seek her son's forgiveness. For understandable reasons, Damian refused to give her a second chance and asked her point-blank why she had him killed in the first place. The savage elephant in the room has to addressed sooner or later in this aggressively awkward reunion of theirs. Talia swore she could change, and that she regretted ever having him killed. She claimed she was possessed by a maddening desire for power during that time, and even thought it was the lamest excuse, it was the truth and it's the only thing she could offer. Well, that and challenging him to a duel where Damian gets to decide if he will condemn Talia back to her evil ways. Something about a black pearl. It made little sense to me but it piqued Damian's interest so he agreed on her terms.
Afterwards, we got a short squabble between Damian and Maya who defended the sacrifice that the clones, stating that Damian should also honor it and stop being such a narrow-sighted brat. We get yet another touching exchange where Damian talked about Goliath who had forgiven him even after committing a random murder spree that claimed the lives of the creature's family members. He and Maya started talking about forgiveness and she offered a rather helpful insight on the subject matter:
Maya affirmed Damian's evolution from mere bratty assassin to inspiration young hero in such a resonant way while also absolving herself from the obligation of following her father's villainous footsteps. She redefined the 'R' in Robin for him and it was so amazingly uplifting and now she's his sister (and maybe someday she will become so much more for him as well). In the meantime, Damian has gained a real friend and that's what matters here. So uh, BRB, I'm just going to lie on a corner somewhere and do this:
In the end, Damian didn't duel his mother and instead left her a letter citing that he will grant her a second chance because it would be hypocritical of him to deny her that. It was now up to her to make something positive out of that and he will only get in her way once she proved him wrong. They haven't fully reconciled yet but at least Damian is now open to the idea and is not afraid to expect that this time around she won't break his heart (or indirectly drive a harpoon through it like their last encounter). I suppose I also have a softening stance about Talia becoming a part of Damian's life again. I surely hope she will use this opportunity to change and be more of the woman Bruce Wayne himself fell in love with a long time ago. We all have darkness inside us--as well as the capacity for light. Even someone as disturbed and wretched like Talia Al Ghul.
The issue ends on a positive note as Damian Wayne traveled back to Gotham City, leaving Goliath in the care of Maya and his former manservant Ravi. I can't wait for what Gleason has in store for our young hero next!