Wings over Gotham
Credits: Chuck Dixon (writer), John Cleary and Phil Jimenez (pencilers), Ray Kryssing w/Phil Jimenez (inks), Albert DeGuzman (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)
Summary: Robin attaches a line to Steeljacket, and finds himself dragged through the sky with the Gotham police force in pursuit. Meanwhile, Dick and Bruce discuss Bruce’s decision to have Jean-Paul replace him, and whether or not Bruce will resume the role of Batman. After the Gotham police overwhelm Steeljacket in a hail of bullets, Robin returns to the Batcave. He discovers Dick wearing his Nightwing outfit, while Bruce is lurking in the shadows in a new Batman costume.
Robin’s suspicion that Steeljacket isn’t human is given dramatic emphasis. I have no idea if this was ever paid off.
This new Batman costume is essentially the Tim Burton movie outfit. All black, with no trunks on the outside. Dick and Tim act as if this is a dramatic change, which is just ridiculous. I believe Chuck Dixon has stated that Batman was supposed to get a more dramatic make-over following “Prodigal,” but DC backed out at the last minute.
Review: After three volumes and around 2,000 pages, we’ve reached the end of the Knightfall trades. And if you think this isn’t much of a conclusion, you’re right, but this is the last comic with “Prodigal” on the cover, so it must be the last comic reprinted in the collection. Those are the rules and we all must accept them. If there's another way to do research while compiling a trade outside of scrolling through the comics.org cover gallery, I don't want to hear about it. Unfortunately, the final volume is going out on what’s likely the weakest artwork from the entire event. For reasons I’ll never understand, an editor decided to pair John Cleary and Phil Jimenez as artists this issue. Phil Jimenez is still doing a George Perez pastiche at this point, while John Clearly is a sub-par McFarlane double. Remember Boof? (How could anyone forget Boof?) No sane individual would pair these guys on the same story, but that’s what happened somehow. Not surprisingly, the issue looks like an absolute mess.
While there are numerous plot lines that remain unresolved at this point, there is at least some sense of closure, as Bruce and Dick finally discuss why on earth Azrael was hired as the replacement Batman. Dixon plays their partnership as a father/son relationship, strained over the years as Dick entered adulthood. The creators are still going with the “he’s his own man now” rationalization for why Bruce didn’t ask Dick to replace him, but Dixon is now putting more weight behind the argument. And Dick is also able to voice the readers’ complaints and call Bruce out on his lack of faith; Dick didn’t want to become Batman, but of course he would do it if Bruce needed him. It’s hard to deny that DC always had a flimsy excuse for bringing in Azrael instead of Dick at the start of this event, but Dixon does about as good a job imaginable justifying the decision.