Written by Fabien Nicieza
Art by Cliff Richards
It’s no secret now to anyone who follows comics that Bruce Wayne is about to make a triumphant return to the DCU and once again don the mantle of Batman. Right now, however, he’s still traveling through time and the main Bat books are each laying the groundwork for the upcoming new status quo that will feature Bruce and Dick sharing the cowl. Batman #703 is a one-and-done story that at first glance just looks like a fill-in issue, but there are a few plot developments here that could prove to be important once Bruce finally does come back.
The main aspect of the story deals with Dick and Damien trying to catch a thief who seems to be an old Bat-nemesis who has come out of hiding after nearly a decade of inactivity. Additionally, the Bat family has to deal with jilted reporter Vicki Vale trying to uncover their secret identities. As Vale’s suspicions about Dick, Damien, and Tim Drake continue to deepen, the Dynamic Duo make a shocking discovery about the true identity of their foe and Damien discovers a side of his father that he never knew before.
This issue was refreshing in that it didn’t directly deal with Bruce’s current Billy Pilgrim-esque journey or Dick’s attempts to try to bring him back to the present. Those things were briefly mentioned in the book, but it was nice to see Batman and Robin focus on something different for a change. The main conflict of this story wasn’t very compelling – I’m still not sure what the thief’s true motive was – and it was resolved a bit too quickly for my tastes, but the moment near the end between Dick and Damien, as well as the brief scene between Alfred and Damien, made this a worthwhile issue. Cliff Richards’ art is pleasant, though he does make Damien look strangely feminine in a few panels, and veteran scribe Fabien Nicieza offers some nice verbal sparring between the bickering caped crusaders. While I wouldn’t call this an essential issue of Batman, it was a nice breather from all the time travel stuff that’s been going on and drops some hints of the difficulties Bruce Wayne will face once he makes his triumphant return. Batman #703 gets 4 out of 5 scatalogical boasts.