Thursday, June 19, 2014

[New 52] Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi issue 21

My biggest fear is fully realized with this installment of Tomasi's stories pertaining to Batman undergoing the five stages of grief after losing his partner and son, Damian. I expressed my complaints very extensively for the last issue with Red Hood which didn't live up to its promise, only because I believe that it should have been Nightwing (Dick Grayson) who handled Batman's stage of RAGE instead. I even wrote up how it should have gone down and why my own version was more effective, at least in the perspective of a fan who enjoys and loves deconstructing the relationships among the bat-family members. Yes, I went there. I didn't want to be one of those fans who feel like they can do better than the writer, and I will never claim that, but I made an exception with this review of Batman and Red Hood issue #20.

I was hoping that even with that misstep, this issue will come out strong anyway and for the first three to four scenes or so, it did give me some of the best Batgirl scenes and monologue ever. And then it all went downhill from there all because of Batman being irrationally angry when this installment is already THE BARGAINING stage. I suppose this issue can be considered as a matter of collateral damage for what the previous issue failed to deliver; and that is to convey Batman's rage properly and with depth. So here in #21, we still see an angry Batman, doing the most idiotic things and throwing awful tantrum fits. It was hard to read, especially the way Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) reacted which is the fact that SHE WAS THE ONE WHO WAS MAKING BARGAINS instead of the other way around. I mean, what the hell? And I'm not even going to consider Batman "bargaining" with the crooks during a robbery earlier as a valid plot point because that was just downright dumb, even for a father who was grieving. I mean, for fuck's sake, I do not like to see Batman being incompetent because he's the type of crime fighter who may be carrying misery on his shoulders but he doesn't get that easily crushed by its weight. But this is exactly what's happening in this issue and it's completely out of character.

I don't even want to bitch about this anymore because it only makes me sadder but Tomasi had once again missed an opportunity to tell us a humane Batman story WHEN IT WAS ALREADY ESTABLISHED SINCE HE STARTED B&R THAT HE IS MORE THAN CAPABLE OF DOING SO. Wow, so many caps-lock usage in this review. So let me digress and point out the best parts of this issue now.

I enjoyed reading the very first scenes with Batgirl trying to make amends with Batman after the events in Death of the Family, and Batman acting like a complete dismissive jerk for understandable reasons at least. I can also excuse Batgirl removing the bat logo in her uniform as a symbolic gesture to express her feelings of being betrayed by Batman during the Joker's return. But it begs the question: why not change the costume altogether? Anyway, another amazing part was when she started talking to her father, Jim Gordon, while hiding across a window ledge. Her monologue was so heartbreaking, especially when she's airing out her grievances without her father even hearing her because she can't let him know everything just yet--but she does need to unload some terrible realizations about what she has become and the things she had done.

Speaking of her actions, or lack of one, why wasn't it brought up that SHE WAS NOT PRESENT WHEN DAMIAN WAS KILLED? I believe that if Tomasi tackled this issue then we would have gotten something with more heart and less whiny dialogue exchange between her and Bruce. The bargaining part could be used in that kind of conversation then, though I'm not sure how it would have played out, but as long as it's Bruce who is doing the bargaining AND NOT BARBARA, then we get what was promised for this story arc of B&R. I don't know anymore. I might come back here again to edit this review which will include again my own version of how it should have gone down.

For now, I'm giving this the lowest rating of the bunch.


*But only for the first parts, feel free to skip the latter parts

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