Hellfire! Brimstone! And a father’s rage fuel BATMAN AND ROBIN #35 by Peter Tomasi, art by the always affable Patrick Gleason, inker Mick Gray, and John Kalisz, lettering by Carlos M. Mangual.
As always, and I sound like a broken record, Tomasi tends to provide really good dynamic action I can get behind. I remember really enjoying what I saw of his NIGHTWING and ever since he’s always been a deliverer. Bruce, suited up in his Hell-Bat suit of DOOM invades Apokolips (as much as one person in a supped up Batsuit can) and is out for Godfrey, who had nabbed Damian’s coffin. Meanwhile Jason, Babs and Tim return back to the Bat-Cave. They’re not about to let Bruce go at it alone. So through Alfred’s planning they aim to go to Apokolips help him.
They decide they need to tell Batwoman she may very well be a solo protector for a while while they’re gone (and if they even come back). The three then trick Cyborg into coming to the Bat-Cave so they can knock him out and use him to open up a Boom-Tube, the only person able to do so without a mother box. The three suit up in Robin outfits (beautifully designed) in honor of Damian and charge. Meanwhile Kalibek is using Damian’s sarcophagus and the Chaos shard as a literal, I believe battery for a large laser death ray. As the “former Robins and a Batgirl” arrive he unleashed the power, destroying I guess is a nearby planet or moon. Cyborg quickly follows after them, having woken up, with Titus the dog (uh oh) in tow.
This story while pretty bizarre is a pretty good continuation of Morrison’s storyline, or rather a good building on top of it. I knew he always wanted to eventually kill Damian but I can’t help but feel that the reboot, which erased a lot of the status quo he helped build, left Morrison particularly bitter so the second half of INC sort of took an even more negative spin than it probably originally aimed to be, considering the large network of characters and concepts, Babs as a new type of Oracle entity, Steph and Cass, Tim leading the Outsiders, etc that had to be sort of shelved or ignored. Being said, Tomasi has his own feel. It’s a lot more naturally entertaining. Despite the darker themes his writing often allows a good amount of room for quips and allows Gleason to have some fun with moments that would otherwise appear static. Standouts here were them reaching out to Batwoman, who was in the midst of taking down an arachnid foe, Alfred and the gang attending to Damian’s pets (Bat-Cow is still there) and Jason quoting Han Solo. Funnier moments keep comics from feeling trite (something people often forget) and for me the more something resembles Batman The Animated Series in tone (give or take a maturity notch) in terms of balance between action, drama, and humor the more I’m happy. I’d love to see Tomasi work on a Batfam animated film if he hasn’t worked on one yet.
Art on BATMAN AND ROBIN, as always is punchy, Tim looks a bit more compact than Gleason (absentmindedly) sort of had him as last issue or two before. The current trio of artists in their respective fields really have a distinct look going and compliment each other well. I am getting rather good at recognizing Kalisz’s colors when he’s not with Gleason or Gray and I must say Gleason’s art’s use of lots of inking/need for lots of black makes everyone else look better. Likewise I believe I’ve seen Gleason art inked much much lighter and not as bold and it just never looks as good as with the B & R team, which I believe has been pretty consistent thus far for Tomasi’s whole run. The lettering here is also actually really good as well. It was really gorgeous this issue.
Not really digging them tricking Cyborg. In a time when consent is a thing people are trying to talk about more, this is really not good characterization for Babs and Tim, Tim especially since he saw Bruce dismantling Frankenstein and helped put him back together. Jason doing it seems pretty in character, but even he the more I think of it, might have a problem too.
Damian as a giant battery. Everyone’s Robin! Blowing stuff up. Parademons and Bruce going on a rampage (he’s really scary). It’s a bit strange but I really like it. I doubt Babs could wear her new urban chic costume to Apokolips.