Welcome to another installment of the Bat Casebook, where I take the bat-comics that came out during the week and review them for your viewing pleasure. Stop laughing. Anyway–this week we’re reviewing Batman & Robin #12, Red Robin #12, and Batman Confidential #44.
BATMAN & ROBIN #12
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Andy Clarke, Dustin Nguyen, and Scott Hanna
Covers by Frank Quitely and Andy Clarke
First off, since this is probably going to be an extremely glowing, slobbering review, I have to be honest and moderate it with this slight negative–this cover isn’t one of Quitely’s best. I see what he’s trying to do now after last issue’s reveal, making it look like Deathstroke’s mask, the lines in this case make Dick look either elderly or pimple-scarred, and it looks like his right leg’s been hyper-extended by the knee. I’m not one to tell stories out of class, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Quitely started drawing, realized that Dick’s foot would be completely obscuring Damian’s face, went “CRAP!” and tried to fix it. Speaking of weird art, the reason why Dustin Nguyen’s here is that apparently the middle issue was laid out the middle of the issue with Scott Hanna finishing the rest making it look like it belongs. I didn’t really notice any major difference, but it is sad that he wasn’t able to do the art for the whole three-issue arc.
As for the story…HOLY CRAP, BATMAN, that was amazing. The only complaint I have is that the first half, where we were left last issue, was resolved quickly and awkwardly. Dick punches out Damian with the electric knuckle duster (which I WANT, by the way), putting him under control, and the 99 Fiends find the lil’ casket, scream “BARBATOS!” and run away. A bit anti-climatic, but everything after it, getting into Talia’s headquarters and Batman and Robin encountering Deathstroke and Talia, respectively, was multiple slices of fried gold. I was more surprised that Morrison mentioned Infinite Crisis then I was of him mentioning No Man’s Land last issue, and you can never go wrong with Batman smacking a super-villain in the face with an IV pole. Then there’s Talia’s revelation to Damian, and his reply when he’s declared an enemy of the Al Ghuls…if this doesn’t cement Damian as a full-fledged hero, I don’t know what will.
All of this, and I haven’t even gotten to the big reveal in this issue! With Oberon, Joker was one of the primary suspects, along with Bruce, and after Damian asking him last issue, I think it’s safe to call the evidence to him red herrings. I also loved the additional details that Joker killed all the Black Glove members in the form of dirty jokes–perfectly in character for him, while also a perfect revenge for the Black Glove, who’s many methods in the effort to corrupt Bruce Wayne was to make his family appear to the eyes of the public junkies and perverts.
All in all, it was an AMAZING issue, and I’m almost in physical pain that I have to wait two weeks for the next issue.
RED ROBIN #12
Written by Christopher Yost
Art and Cover by Marcus To and Ray McCarthy
This was one excellent conclusion to this arc and of Yost’s run on the book in general. There was very little of this book that I didn’t love. One thing in particular was the double-page spread of all the Network and Teen Titans protecting the people on the hit list–everything from Kid Flash loving that he got to save a partially-clothed Selina Kyle, Julie Madison (who left Bruce after being abducted by a vampire cult, I remind you) being saved by MAN-BAT of all people, Wonder Girl in awe of Oracle kicking a whole whorde of ninja ass all by herself, Damian practically saying, “You thought anything below firing a cruise missile would kill me? You think so LOW of me, Grandpa!” It perfectly encapsulates how much Tim is like Bruce and how different he is from Bruce–he is a strategist, but he is willing to get help from his more meta companions when needed.
There was also the fight between Tim and Ra’s–he fights his hardest to just keep up with Ra’s, but that doesn’t diminish Tim at all, especially when his end-game is out-thinking him. Though I have to admit the end of that fight is a bit ruined for me after I saw this manipulation:
It got REALLY played out back when the movie came out, but when the situation and timing is just right…it can still make any internet geek lawl.
Anyway, the falling action was solid–great brotherly love between Dick and Tim, Tim reacting to his “engagement” with Tam, and the reveal that this whole story is, in a sense, a remake of Daughter of the Demon, showcasing a slight costume redesign (that’ll hopefully lessen the many Dr. Mid-Nite comparisons both by fans and in the book), and finally, Ra’s ultimate end-game was to see whether Tim is worthy of creating an heir to his throne, and a mysterious woman saying she can arrange that. Dun dun DUN! I mean, there are only a few real suspects for this–Talia or a somehow resurrected Nyssa, but still, it is interesting that they’d go in this direction, moving Ra’s obsession away from Bruce. I hope that Nicieza keeps this development around, if not for a “Miss Al Ghul, I think you’re trying to seduce me!” line. They even gave a footnote that establishes that Tim had more then a passing feeling that Bruce is alive, the same one that Dick and Alfred found in the Manor! Take THAT, fanboys who thought this had nothing to do with the main story!
So overall, I think it’s safe to say that this run and this turn for Tim was successful–they put him through the ringer and not only put him back up to par, but perhaps even better then before. Before this, he was like a mini-Batman–a natural detective who can actually interact like a human being around people sometimes, which is a bit of a harder thing for Bruce to do. Now he has all those faculties in order, as well as Dick’s independence and want to become his own man, focusing less on being the best Robin and more on being the best superhero that Bruce could be proud of, on his own terms. Overall, I can’t think anything really bad about his turn.
…Well, maybe that he’s still named after a restaurant chain.
BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #44
Written by Kevin Vanhook
Art and cover by Tom Mandrake
I was taking a bit of a mild risk with this one–this arc is from people I’ve never heard of, co-staring this vampire character I had never heard of, and I found out later that it was a sequel to a story I had never read. I thought from the cover that, even if it was a risk, seeing Batman fight vampires and zombies would be worth it. On the basis of this issue, so far it hasn’t.
We get Bruce in New Orleans, donating some cash to help the rebuilding process (it was ironic, though, that this came out the same week that New Orleans had a different, but just a big a disaster in it’s massive oil spill) and plans on hitting it up in the French Quarter. I was kind-of hoping we’d see more of that, but then this book would have to be put under Vertigo, I guess, ’cause Bruce be a playa like that. After that, we see this severely annoying vampire character named Dementr that we’re never really introduced to, we find out that Bruce is here to chase down a super-villain we’re never introduced to, both the vampire and Batman track the villain we’re never introduced to to a museum and we see that they know each other, even though we’re never shown how, and finally we see the villain we’re never introduced to create a spell that is never explained to raise the dead corpses inside the museum.
Anyone noticing a pattern here?
Basically, this book is the opposite of what last week’s Detective Comics was. This is clearly a continuation of another story that wasn’t in this title, and unlike Detective, which set you up to what happened before and then sent you on your merry way, this issue just plops you in the middle of this story that was established in a mini-series called Superman and Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves, a book I never even heard of until I researched it, expects everyone reading this title to have read and vividly remembered that mini-series and follow along. This could have easily been fixed by, say, having Batman do a little narrating about what happened before when he met the vampire, but he doesn’t.
I honestly don’t know if I’ll cover the next issue. Maybe if we get a LOT of Batman punching out zombies, and maybe even punching out this vampire character that greatly annoys me (he’s not on an Edward-level of annoying, but still too close for my blood, pun not intended), and maybe even explain more what happened before as it happens, but if not, I don’t think it’s worth it.
…Well, that ended on a sour damn note, didn’t it? Oh well, there’s always next week–which looks VERY promising, as we’ll be reviewing Batman #699, Batgirl #10, Birds of Prey #1, and Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1.