Even though there are two stories here to begin with, the main one can easily be divided into two parts, from a critical standpoint. Both are written by Scott Snyder, with Jock drawing the main feature and Francesco Francavilla drawing the co-feature.
The first half of Snyder and Jock’s story is filled mainly with exposition. Snyder wisely furthers the plot with conversations between Dick and three of his most meaningful relations. This gives him a chance to show off his skill with dialogue, while further establishing his Batman as a Dick Grayson centralized book. Unfortunately, Jock’s visuals during this first half are a bit lackluster. It works from a narrative standpoint, for this half to look dull and the second half to look so impressive, but Jock’s actual linework here is not some of his best, with only a couple panels and one splash page really standing out.
The second half is full of tension and intrigue. We get a glimpse of Snyder’s villain, Etienne, and my is he creepy. Jock gives him a great design: a feeble old man with two canes and a gas mask, and those demented eyes. He’s also a good villain for Dick in that he’s connected to Bruce Wayne, with his profit coming from the souvenirs of Batman’s legacy, but he’s never actually faced the old man himself. Besides providing a good design, Jock’s page layouts are as dynamic as ever, culminating in one hell of a scary page portraying little but shadowy figures. The colorist, David Baron, also amplifies his coloring during the second half, specifically in his use of red. There’s even one panel where Etienne is outlined in red. It could be a mistake, but it looks cool regardless.
Like the first arc of Snyder’s American Vampire, the main feature and co-feature play off each other. If Gordon is absent in Jock’s story, you’ll find out why in Francavilla’s story. And speaking of Francavilla, his work is just beautiful in the eight pages he has. His linework is competent and bold, but his colors really create a lasting impression. They’re so unconventional, yet fitting and vibrant. Like Baron, he strongly favors red, but it’s that strong purple hue that really helps define his work here.
Snyder does an excellent job progressing his plot, while handling his characters properly. He’s also smartly interweaving his two stories, and both have terrific conclusions that’ll bring you back for more.