Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi issue #40

Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's Batman and Robin and I have been through hell and back. In the beginning, I've witnessed the father and son, Bruce and Damian Wayne, struggle with establishing trust and partnership in the Born to Kill story arc (my all-time favorite New 52 story), which essentially proved to be worth all the drama once I was reassured with the affirmation of the love and affection that grew steadily between them as seen in the first annual. There was also that symbolic dream sequence issue that solidified this title as an emotionally resonant piece. 

As I journeyed on, I saw Damian Wayne survive his first encounter with the Joker but his mother's vengeance proved to be deadlier which tragically cost him his life as examined in the wordless issue of REQUIEM. We also get Alfred's heartbreaking singular scene about it, Batman's uneven stages of grief and his hunt for his son's corpse, until we finally reached the coiling prickle of ascent in Robin Rises, an arc that restored my faith in everything when it finally resurrected Damian Wayne in his rightful position as the Boy Wonder--but not without inheriting accidental superpowers courtesy of the chaos shard. And this is the final stage that Damian has to overcome now that he has returned for good.

One thing that has made Tomasi and Gleason's collaborative work on Batman and Robin for New 52 so heartbreaking, intelligent, meaningful and commendable lies in the strength of its characterizations and development which serve as the driving force behind the stories Bruce and Damian encounter along the way issue after issue. It is proven time and time again that this is foremost a story about father and son at its very core and Tomasi only goes wrong when he starts deviating from this trusted formula which had happened once or twice with the forgettable Terminus and zombie arcs. Those are necessary mistakes, however. 

On the other hand, Gleason as the artist has immensely improved with his visual style and approach. This was realized and highlighted in his depictions of the scenes for Robin Rises as further enhanced by inker and colorist Mick Gray and John Kalisz respectively. I remember remarking on the bland simplicity of his earlier work for B&R which was why I am more than happy to say now that he has since grown and honed his artistry. His visual contributions to Tomasi's narrative helped this series become what it is today for fans like me who remained steadfast and supportive to this dynamic duo's adventures, trials and triumphs across the short years they've been in print since the launch of New 52. This title for me was simply an exercise in beauty and grace that can only be found in the storytelling of the comic book medium. This is the final issue of the series and therefore my last review, and I would just like to say that nothing has been as moving and intense as witnessing Damian Wayne grow up and be a hero worth believing in as depicted tirelessly and with great care and sensitivity as Mr. Tomasi had. 

His writing for this Robin has stirred many powerful emotions from me as well as imparted valuable lessons regarding real strength, compassion and familial love and devotion. I admit I was wary and anxious when Damian was resurrected with powers but I was glad that this only showed how much he has evolved as a person. He may still display cocky tendencies here and there but he's no longer the selfish boy I've met in the beginning; trained by his own mother to be a killing machine and has a complete disregard for his own safety and sanity. This Damian Wayne has proven himself to be his own brand of heroism once he has finally embraced the goodness and light that were always a big part of the reason why his father never stopped believing in him. 

Here are some of my favorite moments for this issue:

In the end, Damian Wayne did lose his super powers (which were drained from him after extensive use) but he has gained something more long-lasting. He wasn't broken up about it at all which showed his maturity. Damian doesn't need to be a Superboy. He's Robin and that's all that matters to him. To end this amazing and glorious series, Gleason gave us this panels reminiscent and nostalgic of the Batman and Robin I grew up loving. I literally squealed as I turned the pages and then cried a little all over again with that subtle moment of Batman glancing at his side (which was a call back to that scene in Requiem), happy to see that his son is truly fighting beside him once more as his partner. It was such a powerful scene for me. 

It was a happily-ever-after I will never trade for anything!

THANK YOU FOR THE GIFT OF BATMAN AND ROBINPeter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason!~


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