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Written By: Dan Abnett Art By: Bruno Redondo, Diogenes Neves, Juan Albarran, Ruy Jose, Rex Lokus, Travis Lanham Cover Price: $4.99 Release Date: August 31, 2016
*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*
It's Annual week again and while I usually dread when these come around....... simply because I'm invested in a certain story and Annuals like to detour around it, I have to say that I'm really interested in this one because it uses its extra page count to go deeper into the Ultra-Humanite story and explore the character of Dick Grayson as Batman and that's awesome because even though we've spent over a year dealing with our new Earth 2 status quo, we really don't know dick........ about Dick. When last we left this story........ Well, when last we left the story that we're about to go into, Dick Grayson just found out that his little boy was alive and that he had been genetically aged to sixteen and altered to have superpowers and is one of the Ultra-Humanite's enforcers. With the knowledge that each of them have about the other being alive, let's see if we have ourselves a happy Grayson family reunion........ or if a giant psychic ape shows up and eats all the goddamn potato salad....... You can't have a family reunion without potato salad......... Let's check it out.
When our issue begins we realize that we're not going to get a linear story because while we see John begin this issue with him fleeing from his father and then fighting off Ultra-Humanite's mind control, we quickly see John talking to his father about what it means to be Batman. Almost immediately though I realize that we have ourselves some revisionist history going on because while at the beginning of this series we heard that Mister Terrific provided Dick with the Bat suit that gave him the ability to walk again, here we don't hear anything about the super smarty Michael Holt at all and instead just hear Dick talk up Helena Wayne and how she gave him everything he needed to keep the Batman name alive.......... which is okay if you want to go with this connection that Dick and Helena seem to have lately, but I want to see some goddamn Mister Terrific because he's pretty much been absent from this entire series and when the Earth is in need of some super science to make itself a hospitable place, you're going to want to talk to Mister Terrific.......... maybe that's just me.
As we continue this issue we realize that for as much as we've been wanting to see Dick and John reunited and also getting some background on Dick as Batman, that this Annual really doesn't have a lot to say on the subject because the majority of the issue is Dick saying the same thing about the former Batmen, Helena and himself over and over again and by the end I was reminded of high school book reports that you needed to pad out to get your page count............ Now I know that sounds harsh as hell, but I swear Dick is on a goddamn loop here with his monologuing. I don't know if Dick thinks John is a little touched and needs to repeat himself just so he thinks John's picking up on what he's throwing out there, but it sure as hell seems like that........... or maybe he thinks we're special.
In the end, we realize as well that with all this repeating, Dan Abnett didn't really have anything interesting for our characters to do so a good portion of this over-sized book is simply us seeing Helena fight the Humanite, Grief as Dick talks over it. Finally though, the whole thing comes together with Helena winning her fight and showing us how John came to be reunited with his father........ We also get to see Dick's new Bat suit that he's been working on that replaces the weird yellow with a more Thomas Wayne colored costume, where he's now rocking black with red........ but still has that strange ass mask. As our issue closes Helena informs Batman that Alan Scott has called a meeting and our father and son duo run off looking like a strange ass Batman and Robin team. Which is honestly pretty cool.
That's it for this Annual of Earth 2: Society and even though I found myself irritated that I was reading the same dialog over and over again, I have to say that I somewhat enjoyed this issue for the concept alone....... and I did dig the dialog the first time I read it, it's the other three times that it showed up that I found myself getting annoyed. Seriously though, I was happy as hell that we got to separate ourselves from the crowd a bit here so that we could get the lowdown on Dick's life as Batman and his growing relationship with Helena Wayne. Speaking of Helena Wayne, even though she spent this issue just kicking the shit out of a teenager, I have to say that this is probably the best we've ever seen this character do the superhero thing because when we saw her in Worlds' Finest, she was terrible at everything and I really like the character so it was about time that we actually got to see her kicking a little ass. So yeah, repeating dialog and Huntress just beating up a child, but even with this super simple Annual, it brought a little heart to the story and since Bruno Redondo and Diogenes Neves were on art the whole damn thing came off looking amazing and I gotta tell you, Diogenes' Huntress is probably the best I've ever seen........... I need to see him draw her more.
Bits and Pieces:
If you were looking for a little insight into Dick Grayson as Batman....... well, you'll get it here about three times because as it turns out, Dick doesn't have a lot to say on the subject and feels that he has to tell us all about it over and over again, but you'll get it with some awesome looking action and some fantastic looking art.