The grieving process continues this month as Bruce confronts Carrie Kelley for a second time and teams with good old Jason Todd in a vengeful payback session with bounty hunters. But is Bruce there for more than just paying a visit to bounty hunters?
Peter Tomasi is left picking up the pieces after Damian’s death here as it seems Scott Snyder will begin his nearly year-long story arc “Zero Year” on the flagship Batman title next month in June. Morrison isn’t going beyond his story, and let’s be honest Batman The Dark Knight isn’t exactly the central bat book at DC. All eyes are on Peter Tomasi’s Batman and Robin title to tell us what comes next, after the death of Damian Wayne. I feel a bit underwhelmed with the title now, I know we’re only two issues into the whole five stages of grief arc but I’m not so sure this was the best route to take. Here’s what keeps me going though: The pay off. Say what you will about the first few issues of this book in the New52 but there is no arguing that the payoff was amazing for those of us who stuck around. Tomasi gave us the Bruce/Damian dynamic that not even Morrison was able to give us. I’d go as far as to say that without reading this book you may not find Inc #8 as gut wrenching as it was.
Bruce observes a group of bounty hunters through the bat computer, we then see Alfred calling him to the Manor, where Carrie Kelley has just arrived insisting on talking to Damian. Bruce attempts to brush her aside by informing her that Damian has gone to study overseas for the next few years. Carries is not easily dismissed as she retaliates by insulting Bruce’s public bachelor lifestyle and goes as far as blaming that as his main reason for sending Damian away. Bruce leaves her to go back tot he cave and Alfred (almost randomly) offers her a job taking care of Titus until Damian returns, Carrie agrees. Bruce invites Jason Todd to go after the supposed bounty hunters who tried to kill Damian months ago, they both leave but not before Bruce and Jason have a heartfelt recollection of Damian. Jason and Bruce arrive to confront the bounty hunters who are quickly disabled (quite literally for some of them). At this point it seems the Batman and the Red Hood have finally gotten to a great place in their relationship and may have even made amends for their past relationship. Jason thanks Bruce for asking him to tag along and Bruce pushes the idea of how family should trust one another and how he would always have respect for Jason. They take the car and make a detour to an unknown location. Jason begins to recognize where they are – The desert where he was killed – but Bruce does not stop despite the obvious discomfort that Jason seemed to be feeling. Arriving at the scene of Jason’s murder, Batman and Red Hood confront each other over the why they are there. Bruce wants to know how Jason came back to life and if there is anything he can remember about his death that can give him insight to bringing Damian back from the dead, this upsets Jason who sees this as selfish and cruel, they both fight and lash out at each other. Bruce shouts that he wants to see his son grow up as Jason has and that Damian earned that right. Jason retaliates in reminding Bruce that he isn’t much of a father and has nothing left to give. The last few pages show us a shadowy figure flipping a coin, the coin lands on heads as the man says “no”, it appears Two Face will be joining the next issue.
This issue continues the five stages of grief story line, and honestly I’m not feeling it here. I know there must be grief involved in telling us post Damian death stories but to take Batman to these levels of rage and out of character moments (mind you the last issue was more prominent in that than this one is.) just harkens back tot he Jason Todd story. Scott Snyder beautifully wrote out an emotional but surviving Bruce int he pages of Batman #19, and #20 but here it seems just too much. As for Two Face, I can see whatever role he has to play tying back to Carrie Kelley and her ultimate role in the family. I’ve loved this book for a long time but having seen the post #18 issues I am starting to have second thoughts about how excited I should be for this title every month, my expectations have dropped in the stories and it feels unfair. Tomasi did an excellent job with Damian and without the little guy it seems this story is missing a lot of heart and soul. Let’s face it when you have so many Batman titles that the one character you want to see in a book called Batman and Robin is probably gonna be Robin, why? well cause you get enough Batman in all the other titles. Without Robin this book is having trouble staying afloat. Peter Tomasi is doing his best in keeping this interesting, that much is clear and I do not blame him for the odd route this book has taken. Grant Morrison took away a character that was doing so well in this title and like real tragedy it seems life after that is taking some getting used to. Let me talk little on Carrie here though, I like her, as a character added to the book she works great but if they intend to make her the new Robin I can’t say I’m really on board for that. I’d ideally want the role of Robin retired for some time but I see now that it just won’t do for DC. Carrie Kelley is a great character to absorb into a story as a secondary character or as a nice supporting role but so far has not proven to be Robin worthy. Granted it is a bit early to see her full growth i still think her immediate reveal and big push from DC makes it rather obvious that she will be the next Robin and comes across as forced. I would have preferred a slower and less subtle way of getting some one new into the role, giving her a job at Wayne Manor only makes me wonder how long it will take for her to find the secret entrance to the cave. And also: Damnit Alfred! stop leading youths into dangerous situations that lead them to become heroes or die (ala Batman Inc#7). If there is one thing I absolutely cannot complain about it’s the art, Patrick Gleason blows it out of the water and I enjoy flipping through the pages and even taking more than a few minutes on each page just to appreciate the way this book is drawn, truly one of the best drawn monthly books out there. All in all I am intrigued to see what happens next, can’t say I’m excited but this seems to be the title to watch for what’s to come from the future as Scott Snyder’s Batman will be stuck int he past for almost a year telling us a new origin story for the old Bats, which I will be reviewing starting this month now. This book will continue to be a part of my monthly pull list but I hope my level of excitement goes up again, as a fan of Damian I must say this book feels all too hollow without him.
FINAL GRADE: 6.5/10