Tuesday, May 27, 2014

[New 52] Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi issue #6

Let me just say first and foremost that the cover is breathtaking though misleading. There wasn't going to be an all-out battle between father and son but I understand the need to feature that cover, considering the circumstances we were left with the last issue. I can honestly say that the first two issues that were released monthly may have a slow pace to them especially if you're an avid reader who follows other more action-oriented titles. But I would like to state for the record that Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's Batman and Robin is one of the best ones I've encountered in the New 52 line-up so far!

I think Tomasi was bold and wise enough to craft each issue with layered characterization as the major focal point as oppose to the action and suspense that is of secondary presence in his issues. Being able to create drama and sympathy between and for his two leads is something I need to applaud him for. The Real Me is an issue that completely blew me away because I did not expect that at all. I'd like to warn everyone not to proceed anymore if you haven't read this yet since I'll be discussing the climax that comes after all that build-up in the last five issues. It's surely obvious by now that I love, love, LOVE the conflict between father and son and I'm pleased that Tomasi gave me more than I can handle. My heartstrings have been tugged along each issue and The Real Me was no exception.


In the final scene of the last issue, we were left with NoBody giving Robin a gun and urging him to shoot the criminal scum they have at their mercy. Robin pushes the barrel on the guy's forehead and after a few more dialogue exchange with NoBody in which he insists that Robin proves himself to be an ally, the boy wonder pulls the trigger without a moment's hesitation. That willingness to kill criminals is everything Batman stands against and Robin crossed that line so easily that it was disheartening for me; and it was fortunate that Batman didn't get to witness it. THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN AWFUL!

HOWEVER, the gun was empty since NoBody just really wanted to see if Robin will pull the trigger. So they decided to merely incapacitate the criminal and take him to a remote location somewhere. Meanwhile, Batman continues to search the Gotham streets and the story of how he came across and worked with the Ducard father and son. The flashback sequence was great; seeing Henri Ducard favor Bruce over his own son Morgan provided additional insight as to why there is a seething rivalry between the now-NoBody Morgan and Batman, though it seems to be more of a pressing issue on the former's end. I won't go into further details about this backstory since it only serves as a way for Batman to explain to his son Damian why he's not always honest about certain things in his past. But the bottom line is that Bruce beat up Morgan pretty badly that when he dropped off Morgan to his father, Henri could not even accept his son back because Morgan's defeat is a weakness he could never forgive. It seems like this is a personal vengeance for NoBody then. Bruce made him lose the respect of his father and so now he is going to ensure Bruce is going to lose his son in more ways than one. A fitting quid pro quo, sure.

The last few scenes show NoBody actually dropping the criminals he catches into a large container filled with acid--and surprisingly, Damian protests about this unusual punishment. They had a brief altercation and it was then that we found out that Damian has activated a button in his costume which allows his location to be tracked down. NoBody has noticed this before their fight and he angrily proceeds to reprimand Damian brutally for playing him for a fool. Damian iterates that his issues with his father were real but he used that angle to make NoBody believe that he has turned coat due to that because Damian planned all along to get close enough to NoBody and deal with him himself. Batman had no idea about that and neither did us readers. NoBody then questions him about almost shooting the criminal point-blank with a gun earlier to which Damian explains that he knew the gun had no bullets because of the weight. NoBody then asked why Damian would betray him like this, after promising him the freedom and honesty that Batman/Bruce can't even give him.

And Damian simply states that Batman is his father. In spite of their differences and no matter how difficult it has been to form a bond with him, Damian as Robin and as his son won't just turn his back away like that just because his feelings were neglected. I don't know about the other readers but I was truly duped the entire time. I really thought Damian betrayed his father. Tomasi set up his character with a darker edge that it took me no convincing whatsoever to believe Damian would switch sides just because he was raised and bred to be a killer, and because he is stubborn and bitter about the way Bruce dismisses him in the last five issues. AND I WAS PROVEN WRONG, and it hurt me so much because I can't believe I even doubted Damian.

AND I ALSO COULDN'T BELIEVE THAT DAMIAN IS FIERCELY DEVOTED TO BRUCE/BATMAN ALL THIS TIME even if it feels like the hardest thing to do especially since this is Bruce Wayne we're talking about. He's not exactly an easy man to love because he hasn't allowed people to come any closer, including his own son Damian. And that's why it actually feels understandable for Damian to seek approval and honesty from somewhere else, even if it's from a villainous bastard like NoBody. BUT I SHOULD HAVE HAD MORE FAITH. I thought that just because I know who Damian is and what he's capable of, it doesn't mean that I know HOW HE REALLY FEELS INSIDE, and that he intrinsically loves his estranged father even if theirs is the most imperfect and tragic relationship. EVER!

Bloody hell, even Batman is in for a surprise when NoBody communicates with him and asks him to listen as he breaks particular parts of Damian's body. And Batman is fucking pissed! He has lost his cool in those last panels and is now screaming for blood. Oh-oh.


* I'm reserving the perfect rating for the last two issues.

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