batmanredhood20coverBATMAN & RED HOOD 20
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

As sad I was to see Damian Wayne flayed by his clone self, this death has given DC writers a fresh direction to take the Dark Knight – namely Bat shit crazy.

A week ago in BATMAN INC we saw BATMAN transform himself into a Batman-Manbat-Mecha-Azrial-Zoid for his final confrontation with Talia. This week we get to see a softer unhinging of his skullcap. Where BATMAN INC. was an aggressive “fuck you,” this is a much softer mind-fuck with Jason Todd as the prime target.

I think BATMAN might have a slight case of Asperger’s Syndrome. Most can reasonably rationalize the human experience to external events. We can judge how others react with pretty good accuracy to things we might say or do. Not BATMAN. What seemed like an altruistic reach out to exact vengeance on the assassins Talia hired to kill Damian, turns into a horrific macabre dance of mistrust and short sightedness on the part of Mr. Wayne.

I’m getting ahead of myself though. To feel the full impact of Bruce’s parental boner…wait that sounds bad….screw up, we need to go back to page one. The issue starts with a reappearance of Carrie Kelly appearing at the mansion front door to give Bruce back $9,000 of the ten grand he paid Carrie for Damian’s acting lessons. It was a great moment that helped flesh out Carrie more with an intense integrity, it gave Alfred a new distraction, and my favorite moment of all in that it gave Titus a new care giver. All Tomasi had to do was throw in Bat-Cow and I probably would have shed a tear. So despite Bruce’s inability to feel, it looks like Carrie will become a permanent fixture in Wayne Manor thanks once again to Alfred, the true heart of the Bat-Clan. Dan Didio warned me after my rant on Carrie’s first appearance to be patient and wait. He was right. She’s no longer just a cosplayer anymore; there was some definitive sass and spunk this time around. I still don’t think we need a new Robin yet, but Carrie is now a seed I am more comfortable watching germinate. I would still like a little more Miller infusion, but I’m willing to trust there’s a slow burn chance I’ll still get it.

Next guest is Jason and here is where there is some very tender emotion displayed through male bravado and machismo. After some wonderful interchanges in the cave, which I won’t ruin here, the two take flight to Africa to show would-be assassins why they shouldn’t take contracts to kill kids. Of course the two open up barrels of ass kickery and there isn’t a trigger finger that remains unbroken. Unfortunately after this moment is where Bruce truly shows why he should never have another sidekick. Instead of heading home Bruce takes Jason to Ethiopia where the Joker shuffled off Mr. Todd’s mortal coil. The reason? Bruce hopes that by visiting the land of crowbars and dynamite, Jason will unblock the memories of his resurrection so they can be applied to Jason.

Here are the reasons in no particular order this was monumentally stupid on Bruce’s part:

  1. You lied again Bruce. This is the reason Jason is the only Bat friend who will talk to you. Don’t say you care about vengeance when you’re really just trying to find a Lazarus Pit for Damian.
  2. You selected the one ex-Robin with more Daddy issues than a stripper who works for quarters. Seriously, Jason always felt like he was in Dick’s shadow and now you put him in Damian’s. I voted to kill Jason almost thirty…wait…I mean three years ago, so trust me I hold no sacred calves. But I truly felt bad for Jason after this.
  3. Most people don’t like to revisit horrific experiences. Just because you like visiting the Crime Alley lamppost a few times a week Bruce, that’s just not how normal folks operate. There’s a reason the term suppression exists, most of us choose to block out the bad.

And that’s how we leave the issue, because while Jason has issues one of them is not the ability to process emotions like those of us on the normal spectrum.

Don’t let any of this come off as a negative critique. Bruce…BATMAN has been almost far too normal for too long. The middle aged man in me has a soft spot for kids and family, but the teenager in me still screams for this man’s life to be anything but happy. Hells yes BATMAN has Asperger’s syndrome. Because the only other option is sociopath, and that’s a line the epic heroes can never cross.

The loss of Damian is shaping up to be the loneliest place of dying to ever test the mettle of the  Bat.