REVIEW: Batman And Robin #19

by

Or – “Those Klingon Bastards Killed My Son!”

The loss of Damian Wayne has been a devastating blow for Batman and his extended family, especially coming immediately after their estrangement thanks to the labyrinthine lunacy of The Joker.  Faced with the loss of his son, how far will The Batman go?  And is he trying to avenge his boy, or something even more disturbing?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!


BatmanAndRobin19CoverBATMAN AND ROBIN #19
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciler: Patrick Gleason
Inker: Mick Gray
Colorist: John Kalicz
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Carlos M. Mangual
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Batman And Robin:  The last issue of Batman and Robin was a silent examination of grief and a hero nearly broken by tragedy.  I have to say that I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as many on the intarwebz.  Damian Wayne is dead.  How will Batman respond?

BY GOING EL BONZO SECO!

The ‘WTF’ wraparound cover of this issue is (as designed) shocking as hell, promising the introduction of Carrie Kelley as Batman’s new partner.  The opening sequence of the issue gives us something entirely different, as Carrie drives to Wayne Manor (sassily throwing a pizza in the face of a random schmuck who chooses to mess with her) to find Damian Wayne, whom she has been tutoring in… something.  The ways of pop culture?  I’m uncertain…  Either way, she drops off some DVD’s and a bill for Damian, causing a ragged Bruce Wayne to track her down, wondering why his son kept her a secret.  The Robin uniform we’ve all seen in the teasers appears only as her outfit for a costume party, one that Bruce interrupts, then stalks away.  It’s unclear whether he’s shocked by her garb, angry, or just being Batman, but it’s a nice bit of character, even if the convolutions needed to get to the confrontation seemed a bit unwieldy.  As with last issue, I enjoy the emotions that Tomasi brings to the script, but I don’t ever quite feel like he fully realizes the potential of the moments in the plot, leaving some things that SHOULD be moving to fall somewhat flat.

TELL THEM BORIS SENT YOU.

The majority of the issue doesn’t even contain Miss Kelley, focusing instead on Batman’s newest quest:  Tracking down the legendary Frankenstein!  There’s kind of a disconnect in the presentation of the story here, as well, jumping from a scene of Frank in action straight to him trapped in Batman’s clutches.  The titles claim of a Batman/Red Robin team-up comes as Alfred calls in Tim Drake to find Bats, hoping that his boss hasn’t gone completely around the bend, only to find that Batman has not only captured Frankenstein, but gathered a few corpses so that he can use the science of Castle Frankenstein to bring his son back from the dead!  It’s a pretty shocking moment, and one that really deepens Bruce Wayne’s character…  Unfortunately, it’s not in a good way.  The stealing of corpses puts Batman in the same playing field as his worst enemies, and even the explanation that they donated their bodies to science doesn’t off-set the creep factor, especially as he calmly and mechanically dismembers a fellow hero.  Patrick Gleason’s are is more at home with these developments than with last issue’s deep emotional suffering, giving us some great monstery panels, and a truly inspired double-page spread where the panels are stitched together like Frankenstein himself…

THE BOTTOM LINE: BAIT?  MEET SWITCH!

The second stage of Batman’s grief is a hard one to read, but I’m more than a little bit irritated by the extremely misleading cover.  With the cover’s implications of a new Robin (as well as the Channel 52 pages at the end teasing the same) I was a bit annoyed to find this issue to be instead something that feels like chapter one of her origin.  Even though the issue posits it as a question (“Is Batman’s new partner Carrie Kelley?”), it’s just not satisfying to have the answer be a flippant, “Nope!”  The use of Red Robin here is neither awkward nor wonderful, just sort of bland, and the strongest parts of it come as Alfred worries about his adoptive son.  Batman And Robin #19 isn’t a bad issue, but it neither delivers the moment teased by the cover, nor enough emotional resonance to keep the man character from feeling dangerously insane, earning a saddening 2 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!


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