Today, Peter and Shelby are discussing Batman and Robin 12, originally released August 8th 2012.
Peter: Batman and Robin started off great. It had elements of mystery novels, sprinkled with a little bit of full-tilt action. This book pushed the envelope from its inception, dealing with depressive, repressed childhoods, political boundaries, and killing people with two fingers. This lead to a fantastic story arc, with interesting villains and character analysis. Recently, the ideas that are being explored are very interesting, and would have served this book well, if only they had been better executed.
Issue 12 continues the fight between Terminus, his gang of deformities, and Batman and Robin. The fight intensifies as Terminus’ clock counts down. Between angry banter and explosions, fists fly. In order to take on Terminus in his powered armor, Batman deploys his own augmentation suit, hidden in the undercarriage of the Batmobile. Dick, Tim, and Jason show up to help Damian out as he fights multiple enemies by himself. The Robin foursome dispatches their foes. As Bruce and Terminus fight on, Terminus’ clock runs out, shutting down his suit. Additionally, the clock triggered a missile launch from Kane County targeting Gotham. In his armor, Bruce dispatched the missile over the bay, a safe distance from the city. Dick and Damian share a few kind words, and the Robins part ways. Jim Gordon gets the last word.
A couple weeks back, Drew mentioned that bigger isn’t necessarily better. In this case, bigger is not better. There is just too much going on in this issue. Several issues back, when Terminus and his deformities were introduced, it was a pretty interesting concept. Who hasn’t wondered about all the henchpeople that Batman has beaten up over the years?
Also, the idea that they are perverting the symbolism of Batman and his bat is fine. But it means that The War of the Robins — probably the more promising of the two stories — took a backseat. It’s too bad that there was no way to connect these storylines together. They would probably have done well if addressed individually. Both had great potential, but they both pretty much went downhill as this issue devolved into a slugfest.
Tomasi’s writing is still pretty good, just very underutilized. Bottom line: he could have done better. Prior to this story arc, Tomasi had carved out a good-sized niche in a world where Scott Snyder exists with a good dynamic between the Dynamic Duo, exploring identities and parent-child relationships. And though Damian’s attempts to embarrass Tim and Jason have been the highlight of the previous two issues, this portion of the plot is relegated to the background. The “Robin War” was a great idea that was only half-baked before being pulled out of the oven. This arc would have functioned much better if Tomasi had only focused on either the Robin conflict or the Terminus one, not both.
Damian in particular has done a lot of growing over the last year. Recently his quest to beat each of the previous Robins in order to prove to himself that he is the best. Damian didn’t really say a whole lot during the action, but had some pretty good quips, as well as this tender moment with Dick.
This brings closure to the whole ‘War of the Robins’ storyline. At least, I think it does. Dick was the only Robin that Damian hadn’t confronted yet, and this was quite the tender moment. However, we have yet to see how that will play out. Next month, with the 0 issue, we are going to learn more about Damian, which will be plenty fun.
Despite the shortfallings of Tomasi’s writing in this issue, Gleason’s pencils really shine. He crafts some amazingly memorable scenes here. There are several moments that are great looking, and are some of my favorites. Especially the Brothers Robin together.
For whatever reason, I feel like this shot would be done by Norman Rockwell if he drew Batman. It’s just a good shot of all the Robins, in order from oldest to youngest.
I think the thing I dislike the most about this issue it’s obvious Avengers moments. First Bruce gets into his powered armor with glowing chest emblem. Then he has to stop a nuclear missile all by himself, saving a city.
It just doesn’t seem that exciting or suspenseful. With the whole, turning-your-symbol-against-you bit, I feel like Tomasi could have done more than just a nuke. Total let down.
Batman and Robin had a fantastic first story arc. The book has since faltered quite a bit. The great story and character development that was built up in the first 8 issues were pretty much thrown out, and replaced with an angry Damian, and a Batman who says things like “Your wish is my command!” while wearing an Iron Man suit. I hope that with the Zero issue focusing entirely on Damian, we will return to the introspective writing that I have grown to love. What about you Shelby? You and I have reviewed Tomasi a lot between this and Green Lantern Corps, do you also feel like these are two different writers almost?
Shelby: That’s an interesting point, I hadn’t thought about Tomasi on both this and GLC. Another interesting point: I have only read this arc of Batman and Robin, issues 10-12. From what I know from past reviews, I have a sneaking suspicion that the stronger this title was, the weaker GLC, and vice versa. I think you are exactly right Peter; I think this arc had a lot of promising elements, but I was ultimately disappointed in its execution.
Terminus and his crew were a tremendous opportunity for some really interesting interactions. This could have forced Batman to finally face the negative results of his vigilantism, this could have been an important lesson for Damian about consequences. Instead, everyone just cracked one-liners. And did anyone else notice the Robins inflicting the same punishment on the henchmen that disfigured them in the first place? Talk about a wasted chance for introspection.
While the War of the Robins seemed to fizzle out, I didn’t totally hate the way it ended. Sure, having all the Robins pitch in to help Damian was a little cheesey, but I also kind of liked it. I thought the way Dick handled his “fight” with Damian was perfect, because that’s honestly how I could see Dick behaving. Again, if the whole War of the Robins was handled in 2 full issues, or even just one issue, devoted only to it, I think we could have learned more about these character and their relationships between themselves and with Batman.
Art-wise, I thought some of the fight scenes were a little fragmented and tough to follow, especially when Batman donned the mech suit and was fighting Terminus. But that shot of the 4 Robins standing together was perfectly executed; it was the family photo Bruce was trying for back in issue 10. It seemed to say Bruce shouldn’t try to unite these guys through… civilian means because the one thing they have in common is Batman and Robin. It’s only through their various aliases can these men/boys come together.
Despite all the problems I had with this issue, I am going to keep reading this title, as well as go back and catch up on the issues I missed. The one thing that prompted me to do so is this panel of Damian watching Batman trying to dismantle the rocket:
That is the face of a ten-year-old kid watching his father in a life-threatening situation. I want to know more about the relationship between Bruce and Damian; I want to see where it has been and where it goes from here. All of the Robins have been like sons to Bruce, but this one ACTUALLY IS, and I’m dying to see how that colors their relationship, both as father-to-son and hero-to-sidekick.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?