Looks like we're finally--FINALLY--going to get to something interesting. IE. the reason why I got this series in the first place, Nightwing and his connection to the bats. This wasn't spoiled for me before I read it but I saw a lot of people bemoaning this book.
I suppose the interaction between Lex and Bruce IS fun. The idea of their brilliance and arrogant clashing make for some potentially entertaining reads. The thing is, I'm not too invested in most of the bad guys travelling with them. I think Deathstroke has become overrated, Black Manta, and Black Adam have no presence. Sinestro just showed up to praise Batmans' ability to scare people before murdering Power Ring last issue, which just felt random. I would say that Catwoman felt like a tag a long too if not sure the previous Bat Cave scene. She just seems to be here because Batman trusts her more than the rest and she can point out how stupid it is to piss off the villains. Speaking of bad guys the series main baddies likewise feel like their missing something. Maybe I just don't buy that their that big a threat since all they did to the heroes of the world is trap most of the JL and send the TT to the future.
Where's the other teams and heroes? Why couldn't Batman find them instead of these guys? Was he really so prideful that he couldn't look for Jason and his friends to say "I'm sorry for what I did but Dick might die if we don't work together"? It would have been more interesting than the last five issues. Where's Batgirl during all this? She was shown worrying about Dick when he was unmasked. What I'm saying is that I never bought the direness of this crisis. I'm not saying tie ins would have help but seeing Batman trying to get help would have been better than slowly building the super villains up as a team.
Let me see if I got this straight: some big scary thing is coming, the same thing that made Ultraman and the others flee their world. They knew Power Ring was a coward and now think his power failure alerted it to them. This never occurred to them before? Deathstorm at least should have suspected it. Making PR deal with threats wasn't a smart idea even before this was revealed.
The big thing that we had built up with Nightwing? Turns out Grid decided to put him in something cheerfully called "The Murder Machine." It's inescapable and seems to require Dick being naked. I admit the build up and the reveal made me feel conflicting emotions. Tense at the thought of Dick being so close to death like Jason. On the flip side I chuckled at the name of the machine because it's such a over the top thing to create. It's like Didio and Johns plotted together something to get fans riled up with and laugh evilly at when they wrote it on the page. Outsider (Earth 3 Alfred) tells Owlman that their security was breached but for once disobeys Owlmans' orders to put Dick Graysons' safety first. Black Manta murders him in a bloody mess. I actually liked the idea of evil Alfred, it was one of the most interesting twists and showed how impressive Alfred could be as a threat. I didn't see that one coming.
Seeing Dick and Bruce talk makes me realize how much I miss the bat family being close. I never get why their bond has to get destroyed all the time, usually because Bruce is being a jerk. I do like how Bruce immediately tells Dick that he's sorry for the way he shut them all out. It ties in Barbaras' talk with Dick at the start when she says it's time for them to put DOTF behind them. In that they left Bruce but I get what he's saying here, if he hadn't kept secrets from them it never would have happened. He certainly pushed Jason and Tim away after Damians' death. To see Batman admit he was wrong only underlines how tense this moment is because he wouldn't normally expose himself like that. It's not good and is actually very worrying.
The Crime Syndicate return to fight the other baddies plus Catwoman/Batman. Okay the bomb stops if you stop Dicks' heart, that's not bad. Cassandra could stop someone's heart with a hit then start it again. They unmask the hooded guy to reveal--red headed bearded Rip Hunter? It's shockingly Alexander Luthor. Yeah pretty much 95% of the readers figured that out. Back to Dick and what does he expect Batman to do, kill him? He keeps telling Bruce to leave but he can't since the doors are shut. Why didn't Batman see the potential for Luthor shooting him in the back to save his own life?! Catwoman may be on his side but their outgun in pure power!
Captain Cold does have an awesome moment with his freeze gun.
You'd think Batman would have got knocked out by that hit. I never knew Biz--I mean
B-Zero" had flame breath. I think Batman puts on the Kryptonite ring which I completely forgot about. Good thing it works on B-Zero too. I love and hate that Batman is threatening to kill Luthor if he hurts Dick. I hate it because of his BS with the Jason situation (tell your kids you love them!) I love it because Bruce does love his kids.
Dicks' pulse stops making Batman mighty furious. Turns out Alexander Luthor is the Mazahs? Luthor thinks there's still time to save Dick?
Overall: A vast improvement over the rest of this series. Johns seems to have on and off periods lately. When he's good it's incredible, when he's not you barely recall what you just read. Luthor was more human than he's ever been but at the same time very stupid. If you have a plan on saving Dick tell Batman before he knocks you down for murdering his sidekick! Even if some of us hadn't heard about Alexander Luthor being a hero on Earth 3 the fact that the concept of this series is exploring evil and Lex playing hero would make it easy to guess. The reveal was obvious from the start but at least we have a twist on the concept.
The moments between Dick and Bruce did feel touching. While I wasn't a fan of the repeated bomb threat being part of a Robins' potential death I liked how Johns changed it up with Luthor. I don't think Dick is dead--or at least I don't think he'll stay dead. That would be dumb on DCs' part plus every Robin except Tim dying--two back to back--is ridiculous. I do hope that this will at least give Bruce the excuse to stop being an ass to his family although Batman 28 hints on that not being the case. I'm willing to give Bruce more slack on not thinking of the obvious answer because of his previous losses with Jason and Damain. Since it was a bomb he couldn't defuse hooked into one of his kids I could see him losing it. But he doesn't think of reviving Dick just punches Lex? What about Dick telling Bruce to leave when he couldn't because of the bomb being active? Bruce might not be able to separate his emotions with the task at hand but Dick should have. He'd trust Bruce enough to stop his heart then bring him back.
This remains overly hyped to the point I can't believe people are freaking out over this. If you stop to think about it then you know how this will play out. Batman wouldn't allow Luthor on the JL if he murders Dick. Earlier Luthor said that he regretted not being able to save his sister because of self doubt. In this issue he tells Batman there's still time to save Dick. He'll save him which will tie back to the sister mention and lead to him wanting to do more good. Nightwing has done nothing save acting as a chair warmer throughout this. Someone to be worried about without actually doing anything.
This was better than the past issues but not really groundbreaking.