We’re in the midst of hell in Batman And Robin #36 by Peter Tomasi, art by the always affable Patrick Gleason, inker Mick Gray, and John Kalisz, lettering by Carlos M. Mangual. It’s all fire and brimstone, and we love it.
Bruce continues forward in a frenzied mission through Apokolips to reclaim Damian’s body. Meanwhile Jason, Tim, Babs, the dog Titus and Cyborg have followed him to make sure he’s successful. Which, as we know, spoiled by future solicits, they will succeed, with Damian returning most definitely alive along with possible new set of superpowers (he had powers in the future 666 universe too didn’t he?). But first Bruce has to make his way through the living furnace that is Apokolips and its servants to Darkseid. In a way, a one man siege on Apokolips, even in his supped up Helbat suit, seems impossible. Even with the added benefit of the three very athletic humans in Robin-themed combat gear, one cyborg human, and a great dane trailing at his heels assisting, well it seems pretty uneven. Apokolips in any other scenario could crush them all. But this is Bruce. This is the gosh darned Batman. There’s a righteous, rabid fury in Bruce that’s just as hot as the flames out there and nothing is going to stop him. And while it makes so sense, I’m completely for all of them succeeding.
As outlandish as the plot is, this is pretty fun stuff. Because Bruce is literally Spawn here. He wants his son, who happens to be currently being used as a battery for a literal death ray too. That’s a pretty big motivation, and would probably upset me just as much. This is quite a lot of Kirby in here narrative wise.
I really like this, it has a clear arc and the big bad Darkseid himself finally shows after Bruce cuts through (actually stuns he doesn’t kill! Duh) Apokolips and buts heads with Kalibak. The “Robin” squad is very cool, if underpowered here, but their costumes are amazing. Tim and Babs’ costumes in particular actually mimics the actual (American) Robin itself rather well with it’s paneling and yet doesn’t look cheesy. Babs looks great, that would have been an amazing costume on Steph had she still been Robin in this canon. The action is just good. Titus is a gem. It’s completely outlandish, Bruce’s wings shattering into a million bat blades, just the entire Helbat suit in general. It’s Spawn meets Terry’s Batman Beyond suit.
This might not be Gleason’s best artwork, or Mick’s inking, something here looks a little off to me this time, but otherwise the art does look, as always on Batman And Robin, pretty “gosh-darned” good. The straining faces Bruce makes are amazing. The paneling is also pretty good.
Despite the utter ridiculousness of the premise of this arc, because I mean this isn’t cerebral writing here, but for some reason I really can’t complain much about it. Tomasi knows how to write fun action. It’s cool, all people involved both fictional and on creative team are competent, so I’m digging it. Keep it up. Cause I wanna see how Damian wakes up.