This week I want to talk about a book that I love, a book I am continuously happy about and look forward to picking up… or at least I used to look forward to it. Until this issue. This week I am going to talk about DC Comics’ very depressing Batman and Robin #37, the penultimate issue of “Robin Rises,” by Peter J. Tomasi with art by Patrick Gleason.
Now, when I say this issue was depressing I’m not talking about the tone of the story. Anyone who knows my pull list or reads my reviews knows I am not one to shy away from a depressing book. In fact, this very series has been consistently dark and depressing, especially since we spent the last year dealing with the fall out of one of the title characters dying (namely, Robin).
The sudden death of Damian Wayne, aka Robin, came about in Batman, Inc. (a book that was supposed to exist outside The New 52) and would have shaken any other book to its core. Peter J. Tomasi, however, was not fazed, creating one of the most powerful issues of a comic book I have ever read (all that and not a single word was spoken in the issue!). It ensured that the series lived on. The arc following that issue was also amazing; it followed the stages of grief using different characters, including Catwoman, Nightwing and even Red Hood, as stand-ins for Robin. This “grieving” arc remains one of the best recent storylines around. Even in dark times where the book got weird and would have been lame written by anyone else (Batman and Aquaman… ‘nuff said) it stayed amazing. This is the first time in a long time I blindly bought a book despite the coming plans because I knew Tomasi was an amazing writer. Even when Batman flew to Apokolips in a suit of super bat armor it was still gritty and great.
Then this s#!t happens and Batman escapes Apokolips and uses a Chaos Shard to resurrect Damian and give him super powers. That’s what made this issue depressing. The thing that made this series so good was that the majority of the last year was spent on a story about a father losing his son; the fact that they are superheroes was beside the point. Every issue broke your heart and made Bruce Wayne feel more like a human than any movie or book I have ever seen. The events in this issue just destroyed all of that good work; I feel it made it all pointless and hollow. The best part of the issue was the Darwyn Cooke variant cover, which I of course had to have!
Two out of five for this issue; Gleason’s art is as good as always, but the story really was just lacking. I hate to say it, but this book has three issues to improve before I bail.