Yes, my Batman comics diet may have ended but I'd like to add this issue to that finish line, if you all don't mind. After all, I did finish my BCD a day early so today still counts as the last day for me to wrap up all my Batman readings. And being a big Tomasi B&R fan, I can't think of a better way to spend my day than talk about ROBIN RISES.
First off, it feels so darn good to see ROBIN in the title again. Now I have enjoyed Tomasi's run in spite of Damian Wayne's demise; he made up for it through the Two-Face issues he wrote that were simply outstanding and were able to keep my heart at ease. However, The Hunt for Robin and the Omega issues have substantially built up the return of the Boy Wonder and so I was all kinds of nervous once this issue finally arrived. Historically, my complicated relationship with Tomasi as a writer can be a very masochistic endeavor. When he's at the top of his game, his stories soar and are resonant in all the right place. When he isn't, what we get are very poorly-conceived and vaguely resolved conflicts and plot holes. Happily so, this issue that marks the first stage of Damian Wayne coming back to comics falls on the former.
The question I know that I have to ask is: should we get our hopes high about Damian coming back? That really depends. I want nothing more than to see my Robin again but I will not settle for less, narrative-wise. The tribute to his death has been stretched throughout multiple titles, all of which largely contributed to the hefty impact and poetic significance of his death. And for this issue, it looks like neither will Tomasi and co. settle for anything less than perfection. I believe that we're off to a great start here. Everything in this 20-paged comic felt graciously paced including the dialogues exchanged among Batman and the rest of the Justice League. Those are hands-down my favorite moments. The Wonder Woman I quoted at the beginning of this review is my favorite of the dialogue.
The heartfelt and sincere concern expressed by Arthur and Diana is notable. They don't condescend and passive-aggressively discourage Bruce for trying to go to Apokolips and face Darkseid to claim his son's corpse back. Their disapproval and words of caution are direct which only showed that they have respect towards their grieving comrade. They don't necessarily need to claim that they can understand what he's going through but they do caution him to be prepared--and let them aid him. Going back to that WW quote, it was a reference to the Hellbat armor that JLA made in order to protect Batman from extreme physical harm in their missions. Diana reminds Bruce that it was a team project. They built it together not because they want to impose control over Batman's actions. It was an earnest gesture shared by allies for a member of the team they know is the most human of them all.
I just enjoyed the characterizations about the relationship dynamics among JLA, specifically where Batman is concerned. Superman also makes an appearance later on which is another sweet moment. Again, like Diana and Arthur, they don't try to forcibly dissuade Bruce from his goal to resurrect his son but what they do desire is to fight alongside him. This is not to discredit Batman's strength in any way. To me, it felt like an acknowledgement of friendship and camaraderie among them. And I do hope that by the next issue, Bruce will accept. In the meantime, the Dark Knight is preparing for battle. He has enlisted Batgirl, Red Robin, Red Hood and Alfred. But how about Nightwing? That was a noticeable absence but knowing Dick Grayson, Bruce may have already given him a heads-up so I do have hopes he'll be in the next installment. I also want Frankenstein added in the mix again. His abrupt exit was suspicious. I felt like there's more to it than just that.
Overall, a promising key issue for hopefully yet another excellent B&R story courtesy of Tomasi and co.