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WARNING! SOME REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS (EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT MARKED). PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Batman: Shadow of the Bat #94
"Days of Auld Lang Syne"
Rucka (w), Raimondi (p), Parsons (i)

I don't know about the rest of you, but I was one of those who found "Endgame" to be merely a satisfactory conclusion to "No Man's Land"--I was more pumped up for the first half of NML, where high octane stories like "Mosaic", "Bread and Circuses", and "Mark of Cain" really got me hooked (not to mention "No Law and a New Order"). Don't get me wrong here, I found "Endgame" (pts. 1-3) to be very entertaining, but no-holds-barred #2 served as my favorite issue of the year (renewing my faith in the character of the Huntress), not the somewhat anti-climactic and too fast paced #3 (too many characters) or the "wrap up" issue in SOTB. First of all, I don't approve of "Shadow" ending now of all places. Yes, I understand their rational (got to clear room for a new Batman book), but why not drop one of the lesser sellers like "Catwoman" or "Azrael"--Hell, do we even need "Harley Quinn"? Whatever, I'm just blowing hot air now.

I think "Days" suffered from the same problems "Endgame" #3 did--too much happening, too much needing to be resolved. Yes it was well written and good, but it all just fizzeled out. The big fight scene between Batman and Mercy was over before it started (pgs. 17-18), Lex turned out to be a harmless pup and the whole emotional element to the issue...well, it didn't happen. The artwork (Raimondi) was impressive in parts, but overall he seemed to be wavering b/t a Phil Rosedo/Phil Jimenez/Cully Hamner approach. Not sure where to do. Very hard edged--not loose enough. Everyone he knew needed an enema. This restrained stoney interior translated all over the place--maybe that's what Rucka was going for here, I don't know, but I was having trouble relating to a zombie-ish Batman, a Gordon who's big scene at the end (pg. 21) I didn't believe had any authenticity to it, and some lifeless interaction b/t Oracle and Dick. Are we supposed to believe they're all tired? Exhausted? They're all lifeless for a reason? Maybe that's the case, I don't know. Regardless, I thought the impressive Maleev cover held more expression and life than the characters inside.

The story did manage to get to its conclusion, even throwing in the obligatory symbolic Batman facing the future w/ his parent's grave at his back (pg. 22). To me, this was really the only page that really worked well. No words are spoken aloud, no interior monologue. Batman stands before the grave for the first time in a year, perhaps renewing his vow. Determined, he turns, does the GQ superhero action shot, and is rarin' to go. Hot damn, let's rock and roll.

--The JYD's Grade: B

--NML (overall): A