Batman and Robin 19
Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
Yet another monthly delight is the title that explores the emotion behind the characters of the Bat family, Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Batman and Robin. But this issue was something special, and that’s saying something for a consistently stellar series. Not only did they somehow top last issue, known amongst fans and critics alike as the “silent” issue, tying into the Requiem storyline following Damian Wayne’s tragic and violent death, but they somehow have reinvented the wheel yet again. This comic will be undergoing several changes (monthly, to be exact) and will be changing its title every single issue as Batman navigates the five stages of grief. This issue, titled Batman and Red Robin, explores the first stage: Denial.
Obviously the cover teases the return (or is it the introduction) of classic Frank Miller future character, Carrie Kelley. She was most notably portrayed in the seminal 1980s miniseries, The Dark Knight Returns, then later as Catgirl in the follow-up, The Dark Knight Strikes Again. But in those series, she is a new character. A fresh new face that restores faith in a broken and beaten Dark Knight. And in this comic, well, she’s not Robin… Yet. She’s simply someone from Damian’s past, proving that Bruce isn’t quite the detective he thought he was and even his son had secrets. An eloquent framing sequence featuring Ms. Kelley trying to get money that Damian owes her and Bruce writing her a much-needed check no questions asked is supplemented by a simple tale of Batman teaming up with (or rather, capturing) Frankenstein, Agent of S. H. A. D. E. Instead of questioning why Damian died and trying to learn who he really was and remembering him the way he would have wanted, Bruce is doing the one thing that seems very irrational for him… He’s trying to bring him back from the dead.
Perhaps what makes this such a great title is the stark contrast between it and the core Bat title, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman. They are both great reads on their own, but they really complement one another so well that it’s almost as if (gasp!) editors are actually holding staff meetings and having creators talk about the big issues, the epic events, and the importance of staying true to their strengths. And in this case in particular, it’s Tomasi’s understanding (as a former editor himself) of what it means to stay true to the characters. He really gets Bruce, and that’s why it’s so heartbreaking to see him fall farther and farther down this dark spiral into the abyss. I just hope that this title doesn’t end without any sort of hope. Because as much as I love my Batman dark and gritty, there needs to be some sort of hope. And I think this issue in particular left that door open for the return of the Robin we didn’t know we wanted back, Carrie Kelley. It’s just a question of how long we’ll have to wait. And whether or not it’ll be until Bruce is old and bitter.
My Rating: 5/5