BATMAN #6 picks up with Gotham Girl, Gotham City’s newest female vigilante, reeling from the death of her brother, Gotham. In issue #5, it was revealed that the superpowers that Gotham and Gotham Girl have been given are also killing them with every use, and so, the only way to stop Gotham was to get him to use up all of his power, and therefore, his life. Batman #6 explores the grief that has overcome Gotham Girl, and the parallels between her personal history and that of the Dark Knight.

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While this issue addresses each of the stages of grief, the most prevalent is the Denial stage. Gotham Girl spends much of the book speaking out loud, as though speaking to her deceased brother. The stream-of-consciousness effect gives her monologue a very personal tone, almost as though you were reading someone’s diary. It shows just how crazy she has become, but it also illustrates that she is denying his fate. She constantly refers to their old life as when he was “younger,” rather than when he was “alive.” This monologue continues throughout the course of the issue, the action of which spans a week.

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It could be argued that she releases her Anger in combat with various villains throughout the week. It is also suggested that her continued quest to fight crime is Gotham Girl’s method of Bargaining. By using her powers, she is effectively committing suicide while still helping the world. Thus, the bargain is that she continues to fight crime and ultimately speeds up her reunion with her brother.

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It isn’t until Batman confronts Gotham Girl and shares a lot of his own personal history that she is able to confront what has happened to her. She finally allows herself to cry (Depression), and ultimately, she experiences Acceptance. It makes for a very powerful moment, and reminds us that sometimes, Batman’s greatest victories aren’t in physical battle.  The honesty that exists in the scene allows us to examine the parallels in the two heroes’ stories. Batman truly understands what Gotham Girl is going through, and he’s not much better off.

The art is fantastic. The nighttime smoke gives a dreamlike quality to Gotham Girl’s crime-fighting shenanigans. The emotions are captured with a raw intensity that really connects with the reader. We’ve seen a lot of action in the first story arc, and now we’re being treated to a more dramatic story; there are scenes of action, but the real power, in both the writing and the art, is in the emotions of the characters.

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If you’re looking for Batman punching and kicking supervillains, this issue isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for a comic that will connect with you, a comic that deals with the mature topics of grief and depression (and what that can mean to a superhero), then this is a title you cannot miss.  It’s my personal favorite of the series so far, if only for the scene between Batman and Gotham Girl. It’s a moment that I can’t spoil for you; you’ll just have to pick it up and read it. You won’t regret it.

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