Monday, October 13, 2014

Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi issue #34

I put off reading the second part of Robin Rises since last month, considering I still had my Hellblazer comics diet in place then. Now I was more than eager to start reading Tomasi's run again especially now that Damian Wayne, killed by Grant Morrison in a climactic issue in Batman Incorporated, is coming back.

Comic book characters have been killed and brought back to life before, and the challenge is to make sure that their comeback will not dilute or lessen the impact of their previously established deaths. When Damian Wayne died, it had been a huge event where all Batman-related titles had their own bereavement issues called Requiem. Tomasi himself wrote the most intriguing and emotionally heartfelt piece in tribute to Damian Wayne as well as two annual issues that celebrated the life and memory of the fourth Robin.

After an acceptable period of time, Tomasi is finally tasked to bring back Damian Wayne in the DC continuity and I can only hope that it would be handled with the care and the understanding it deserves. Anyone who had read my reviews for all previous issues of Batman and Robin can understand by now how much Damian Wayne still means to me (I CRIED SO HARD thrice because of this character), and how much I trust Tomasi to deliver another emotionally resonant story. So far, he's taking his time with Robin Rises, and covering all bases needed.

If you don't know this about me yet, I will state that the first thing I ever notice about a story is its pacing. It's almost visceral, the way I can pay attention whether or not a story is being told in either too quickly or too slowly. I believe the right combination of elements can perfectly come up with a pacing that makes the reading experience very engrossing page after page after page. Some stories' pacing suffer mainly because the essential elements, mainly the characters and the central plot, are not complimentary with each other when it comes to the way they function and support one another. Thankfully, issue #34 entitled Ties that Bind showcases the best exercise in balancing elements to ensure that pacing becomes a noticeably enjoyable built-up to a climax that should prove rewarding if the writing is consistent. The events pick up right after the last issue which featured the Justice League trying to convince Batman not to resurrect his son. It was an issue I very much liked because of how the JLA members were portrayed; there was respect, trust and admiration among them and Batman which is why their needed intervention was sincere. But Batman's ultimately unshakable decision to still do things his way still won over and JLA may not approve but they certainly felt the need to understand Bruce's choice even if they also cannot betray their principles and offer to assist him. In this issue, we saw Bruce inviting the rest of his surrogate children: Barbara (Batgirl), Tim (Red Robin) and Jason (Red Hood) to the bat-cave for three important things:

First, to apologize. It was a long time coming since the events in Death In The Family with the Joker but the timing couldn't have been better. I am moved that Bruce is seeing things with better clarity in context of the loss of his son. He knew that though getting back Damian is the priority, Bruce also acknowledges that he is not the only aspect in his personal life that was fractured and must be fixed, and so he finally found the courage to make amends with the rest of the Bat-family. Secondly, he told them that he will no longer withhold truths from them because doing so in the past had cost them a steep price where their lives were endangered. Lastly, he asked for the three of them to protect Gotham City while he's on his way to Apokolips. As for their part, Barbara, Tim and Jason listened to Bruce's litany and accepted his apologies. The unquestionable loyalty and leadership with the Bat-kids and Batman respectively is emphasized during this conversation and it made me feel good. I care about these characters and I want them to put aside their differences and work together and that's exactly what I got.

This one scene went on for the majority of the issues (at least thirteen pages) and artist Gleason made the most of the dialogue-heavy script by illustrating dynamic and even symbolic panels and designs. It's risky for Tomasi to write a script mostly driven by dialogue but I guess that's where his trust with his artist comes to play. They did a pretty fantastic job with these pages and there was no humdrum moment which is also saying much of Gleason's evolution as an artist throughout B&R issues. Next to Snyder-Capullo, their collaborative work is my second favorite in New 52 comics lately, and this issue has sealed that.

Now I won't spoil the next three events that happened after those thirteen pages because I want you to check them out yourself because Robin Rises is something I happily recommend. The build-up is being handled with great care and I'm very excited for what's to come. As much as I want to believe Damian Wayne is coming back, there is still a part of me that refuses to expect too much. I'm going to trust Tomasi a lot more than I ever have, and I can only pray that he will stick the landing on this one far better than the conclusions from his previous story arcs.


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