When it was first discovered that Dick Grayson was to become the next Batman, I thought to myself, "who else could do it?" Dick was the obvious choice, no one else has the experience, nor the capabilities of continuing the Batman legacy. One thing, however, I wasn't sure about was how the transition from his Nightwing persona to his new role as Batman would affect Dick. Moving on is, for some people, an incredibly hard thing to do, and not so hard for others. This issue of Batman displays how Dick, and everyone else within and outside the Batman family deals with the death of Bruce Wayne.
It's interesting to see Dick Grayson only wearing the cape and cowl on the last page of this issue. The rest of the book we see him wearing either regular everyday clothing, or his Nightwing costume. The very beginning of the book shows a car chase scene with Grayson in the Batmobille, but he has the Nightwing costume on. This is quite intriguing for it displays how difficult it is for Dick to accept the role of Batman. As strong willed and fearless as Dick was as Nightwing, we find him exceptionally vulnerable and hesitant in putting on the Cape and Cowl. We even find Dick, in one panel, breaking down into tears because he "wasn't ready to loose him." [Bruce]
Now this is not to say Dick is the only one grieving. Without a doubt, the scene where Alfred is asked if he is ok, and he responds "No, sir, I am not. I have just lost my son," is the most touching scene in the whole book. This visualization, done incredibly well by artist Ed Benes, of Alfred crying for the loss of Bruce is brilliant. And why not? Someone who has been with Bruce since he was a boy, who has taken care of him and fed him from a young age until he grew to be a man is the most accurate depiction of Mr. Pennyworth as a father figure to Bruce. Showing Alfred in this light is spot on. Alfred is essentially the father of Bruce Wayne. It of course doesn't help anyone that Damian Wayne is being a complete nuisance and having a terrible attitude about he whole situation. The funny thing is, the one who doesn't seem to be sad about Bruce Wayne's death, is his own son.
This was a dark and depressing issue of Batman. Scenes like Superman and Wonder Woman bringing Dick the cape and cowl, Alfred and Dick crying, Commissioner Gordon seemingly depressed because he has no idea if Batman is coming, Villains running a muck because they believe Batman to be dead, all of this and more gives this issue a sense of being in the dull drums and darkness of life. Of course this is due to the efforts of Judd Winick, but we must also give an increasing amount of credit to this issues artist, Ed Benes. I'm a huge fan of Benes' artwork and hope he continues to stay with Batman for a while longer.
So what we have thus far is the story of a returning character that we all know and love putting his Nightwing persona away, and taking up a new mantle. Right now, I still haven't fully accepted Grayson as Batman. Not because I don't think he would be astounding as the Caped Crusader, rather because Dick hasn't accepted himself as worthy of taking up this hero role. So all I can do is see how Dick handles this transition. And from the last page, it's looks pretty optimistic.