Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi, issue #16 [Death of the Family]

I was very enthralled with the last issue, Little BIG Man because of the amazing visual quality it produced, courtesy of Pat Gleason, and the thought-provoking dialogue written by Tomasi between the Joker and Damian Wayne. It was an exuberant story that utilized the use of symbolic imagery and language with versatility and restraint, and I was definitely hoping that this issue will deliver the same degree of punch.

Cast a Giant Shadow was another mixed bag, however. The visual effects are stunning to look at but it didn't have the same kind of appeal like in the previous issue. The content itself is unconvincing, especially when you look at the timeline with the other crossovers. In this story, Damian faces a drugged Batman and they presumably have to duel to the death. Now if a reader has only picked up this issue without any knowledge about what was going on with the other titles (particularly Snyder's Batman run), then they will be shocked and on the edge of their seats while reading this because HOLY SHIT BATMAN IS BEATING UP HIS SON AND HE DOESN'T LOOK LIKE HE WAS GOING TO LET UP!

The sad thing about it is that if you are already following all the crossover tie-ins, then you'll know for sure that it's not the real Batman at all that Damian is exchanging brutal blows with. We know that Batman is currently caught up in Arkham Asylum by this point, so it just doesn't make sense for him to be there at the zoo to fight Damian. When you know that significant detail then everything is just spoiled for you while reading this issue. The story is hinged on the suspense and trepidation that this is Batman about to kill his only son. The action that drives the narrative is the Joker's insistence that the greatest fear between Batman and Robin is that one of them will be the cause of the other's death. Great character moment if only we readers truly believe that it was indeed Batman.

I don't really have much to say about this issue except that though the art shines with visual brilliance, the story falls flat only because there was no real sense of danger and threat when that's a fake Batman so whatever character moment shared between father and son does not translate strongly to fans like me who eat that up. I would like to say that Damian's ferocious loyalty to his father never stops impressing me; even in the very edge of death his trust is absolute. It's one of those delightfully contradictory things about Damian's dynamics with his father. As much as he would often make decisions for himself without his father's knowledge, Damian has an unshakable respect for Bruce that somehow makes you overlook his shortcomings as the half of the functional duo that makes up Batman and Robin.

So overall, I'm not as impressed as I hoped I would be for this issue. The very end also feels like an advertisement for the next installment , Snyder's Batman issue #17 (I reviewed that HERE) where the resolution of the Death of the Family arc will unfold.


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