batman-and-robin-18-coverBATMAN 18, BATMAN AND ROBIN 18
Writers: Scott Snyder, Peter Tomasi
Artists: Andy Kubert & Patrick Gleason
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool)

Whose 4’ 6” and got fucked by their Mother harder than Oedipus? Too soon to Damian’s death? Just wait, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Before we get into what I consider to be BATMAN’S egregious misstep, we’ll start this review on the positive note with BATMAN & ROBIN 18. Tomasi and Gleason deliver some of their finest work to date and a lesson on the brilliance of simplicity and surprise. No gimmicks like Nuff’ Said’ or any major marketing hoopla allowed the unique delivery of this wordless mourning to completely floor me.

That’s right, no dialogue, no thought bubbles nor nary a call-out box sully  this fine tale of a BATMAN unhinged by grief. From the mansion to the streets of Gotham Tomasi’s pacing  and Gleason’s purty pictures perfectly lament the loss of a son and a savior. As Alfred cleans the mansion of Master Damian’s last visages while choking back tears, Bruce goes into what can only be described as a fugue state of anguish. Even though the physical pictures of Damian have been tucked away and draped over, every step Bruce takes Damian’s specter walks with him – even sliding down the bat pole.

Once out of the mansion the ultra-violence goes into high gear, Bruce is going to make the world as well as a very famous light pole on crime alley pay for the loss of his child. The one montage page of this night of terror is worth the price of admission alone.

To put the icing on this delicious cake, Tomasi pulls one final heart string. Titus, the Bat-Dog, became as integral to Damian’s existence as his “Tt” verbal tick. He was Robin’s Robin and is left in a house that is now emotionally bankrupt. When a comic makes me feel this much while breaking conventions, it gets an extra mylar bag to keep it safe for the ages.

batman 18 coverNow for BATMAN 18. First off, it’s a fine issue. I like Harper Row as a character; she entranced me with her Tim Drake style of sleuthing out BATMAN’S black boxes a year ago and his identity this issue. I like her Brother and I now like her jailbird father as an antagonist. What I can’t abide though is lack of commitment. Through Death of the Family and now Robin’s demise we’ve been promised a razing of the Bat’s spirit.

As a character born of tragedy, it’s a necessity for BATMAN to go through times of solitude. His existence since the start of the New 52 has been pretty shiny happy in contrast to past epochs. So as much as I will miss Damian I was ready for a period of a darker BATMAN. Well, thank God I read BATMAN & ROBIN first this week, because even though there are moments of brutality from Bruce this issue they are tempered by Harper’s reappearance.

Again, if this issue came a year from now there wouldn’t be one shadow of criticism cast upon it.  Snyder does a great job showing a Bruce once again obsessed with his mission and Mr. Kubert is a welcome change to keep the art style fresh. Harper’s Father is sadistically horrific to her and her Brother. When Bruce isn’t being consoled by Harper his sadistic and exhaustive rage is utterly appropriate given his recent losses. And the moments with Harper, stupendous! Especially when Bats punches her through a fence.

Snyder has emphatically stated that Harper is not the new Robin, but does a sidekick by any other name kick less side? I don’t care if there’s a new Robin…someday. I also think Harper would be a fine choice to don the red and green…someday. But despite Damian’s small stature he cast a large and deep shadow over the Bat universe – a shadow that shouldn’t have light cast upon it yet. We all need to live in the shadows for a while, a place of centering solitude. This is especially true for the Dark Knight.

With the recent announcement of Year Zero exploring the time before time, six years ago, I fear Damian’s mourning will be no more than a month long affair. There’s some wisdom to still be found in ageing grunge acts. This moment is already lost, but when the next favorite son falls I implore DC to heed the words of Pearl Jam and Just Breathe.