Now that Bruce Wayne is done with JURY DUTY, he and Dick Grayson take a stroll down memory lane as they battle the deadly (snicker) Condiment King and Crazy Quilt. 

Batman 54 
Written by Tom King
Pencils and Inks by Matt Wagner 
Colors by Tomeu Morey

It’s pretty standard comic book practice during a long run by a writer or artist for series to have stock “fill-in” issues, stories that can be placed at any point in a series without affecting the overall narrative of a creative team’s arc. Usually, those stories are done independently of what the main creative team is doing, to give them some breathing room to meet deadlines. 

While the writer for the latest issue of Batman is the man who’s crafted the previous 53 issues, Batman 54 is the very definition of a fill-in, giving everyone a break during Tom King’s 100-issue story. 

Bruce Wayne is back to being Batman after he was sequestered as a member of a jury for a few days, as Nightwing filled in under the cowel. Before Dick Grayson heads back to deal with his own problems in Blüdhaven, though, he hangs around a bit to help Batman out with a couple of his more… colorful… opponents. But mostly, Nightwing is there to help Batman process his emotions after Catwoman left him at the ALTAR

The story bounces between the present, where Bruce refuses to acknowledge he has any emotions at all, and Dick Grayson’s first days under Bruce Wayne’s care, where he was angry at the world and refused any help from his new guardian or his new butler. King highlights the parallels between the two situations, and the close-knit relationship Bruce, Dick and Alfred have developed over the years. 

While Dick Grayson has, historically, been portrayed as a son to Bruce Wayne, with the ravages of time, retcons and reboots, Grayson is now more closer to a younger brother for the billionaire playboy, forcing him to face his emotions and pulling him out from behind the walls he’s put up with a bad joke. I like this new dynamic between them, even if it’s confused with a very young Dick Grayson being taken in by a Bruce Wayne who looks the same age as he does in the present. Those Lazarus Pits really do wonders for the aging process. 

Despite the fun of watching Nightwing to get Bruce to lighten up, this felt like a completely skippable issue, though with great art from the inimitable Matt Wagner.