Batman: Legacy

I’m really loving these recent Batman comics.

After having slogged through a ton of Golden and Silver Age comics that were fairly self-contained and didn’t really have a broader reach than the pages of an individual issue, I’m thrilled to finally be reaching a point in time when storylines start to blend together and create a single, cohesive narrative.

Batman: Legacy picks up right where Contagion left off.  Gotham is recovering from the devastation of that plague, only to learn that it may not be gone for good.  Studies show that the Ebola virus has mutated, and that anyone who had contracted the virus previously can contract it again; only this time, they will succumb within a matter of hours.

Lest we forget, Tim Drake contracted the virus in Contagion, making this an ever-present and harsh reality for our team.  Leaving Huntress in charge as the “resident vigilante” of Gotham, Batman, Robin, Nightwing, and Alfred follow a trail of clues to the Sudanese desert.

(Poor Alfred, he needs a snazzy superhero name.  He should just throw a mask on and be “The Butler”.  Also, he needs his own comic.  Yes, I’m going to shamelessly endorse that until it becomes a thing.)

The comic teases the reader in regards to who’s behind this second outbreak, with various characters seeing someone in the shadows, exclaiming, “You!” right before the scene changes.  Eventually Batman, Robin, and Nightwing learn the culprit’s identity, although no one seems especially surprised.

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Ra’s Al Ghul, along with his ever-loyal daughter Talia, is not only behind the newest outbreak, but we also learn that he created the original Ebola strain as well. His long-term plan is revealed, with his goal being the eradication of 90% of the world population, so that his heirs may inherit a cleaner, purer world.

Ra’s’s plan is difficult enough for Batman and team to stop, but we soon learn that he’s not working alone.  Knowing that his daughter needs a husband to sire his heirs, Ra’s has selected a suitable mate for Talia, in the form of a very familiar foe.

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Honestly, on paper the plot of this story is almost reminiscent of a daytime soap opera, and yet somehow it never feels that cheesy or predictable. This is a true crossover event, with appearances by Bane, Ra’s, Talia, and even Catwoman, and yet the result is a fully developed story, not disjointed asides that don’t fit into the narrative.

Ultimately Batman defeats both Ra’s and Bane, preventing the spread of the new Ebola strain while also figuring out the cure that will prevent the plague from resurfacing.  Towards the end of the story, we see Bruce Wayne touring a hospital, only to find that there is not enough room for all of the dead bodies, stricken down by the virus.  Overcome with emotion, Bruce flees the room, and returns to the batcave with an equally downtrodden Robin, who had just witnessed the death of a young boy.

While Bruce and Tim are commiserating over their supposed failures, Alfred provides a few blunt yet comforting words of wisdom:

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Once again we see Batman take on a more introspective role, questioning his own actions and wondering if he’s making any difference at all.  It would be all too easy for these emotions to overwhelm the stories, for Batman to be so self-centered that he comes across as whiny and unmotivated (think Azrael).  Luckily, Batman’s self-criticism is never over-powering.  In his quiet moments he may question his actions, but when help is needed he always pushes these thoughts from his mind to get the job done.

This was an exceedingly well done storyline, with a wonderful set of characters.  Each added a different level to the comic, with no one ever feeling obsolete.  I’m loving that the story is progressing while still building upon previous issues. The comics are finally starting to feel like one long story, rather than a series of strung together issues with little in common with one another other than their basic cast.  The overall quality of the stories is improving greatly, and I can’t help but want to read every chance I get, just to see what happens next.

Eh, who needs a life when you have comics?

-Jess

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