BATMAN & ROBIN #36 Review & Spoilers
“Robin Rises, pt. 4: Chaos” (20 pages)
Story by: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils by: Patrick Gleason
Inks by: Mick Gray
Colors by: John Kalisz
Letters by: Carlos M. Mangual
Covers by: Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, John Kalisz; LEGO cover by ???
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Be afraid of the Big, Black Bat as he storms through Apokolips!!
To say that Batman is (o)mega-pissed is a gross understatement. Even in the most out-of-his-element scenario, he tears a new one all through the infernal planet. Glorious Godfrey happens to be the unhappy recipient of his wrath. GG immediately rats on Darkseid’s forsaken son Kalibak, the Cruel. Even though GG clearly explains the use of Damian’s body I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all. This is desecration and defilement at its most disgusting!!! Number one of two best lines — when Batman tells GG “Go be gloriously unconscious.” It’s perfectly natural that Bruce would be enraged as he continues to cut a swath to the main culprit. Now he has to deal with some alien infection within his armour.
The back-up brigade has arrived!! Batgirl, Red Hood, Red Robin, Titus and special guest-star Cyborg. They land smack-dab in the middle of a pack of Hunger Dogs. Only one way out of this pickle! Luckily, the melee doesn’t last long. Batgirl tells Titus not to look back as the pack spit-roast one of their Apokoliptan steeds.
I’m dying (no pun intended) to see Damian return!! It makes my blood boil how his innocent, lifeless body is used in such a diabolical scheme. Kalibak has ambitious plans. Who wouldn’t?? It seems like in this reality he doesn’t want to please Daddy Darkseid but surpass him in greatness. He laser-blasts an underling for daring to suggest he consult Darkseid first. Kalibak becomes annoyed with the news of one lone trespasser since he’s confident his soldiers can handle it. HAH! As if!!
The next six pages are double-spread and so they should be. There’s no other way to show the scope and range of the epic one-man war Batman is waging. This man has brass balls!! He plops right outside the citadel and takes down a horde of Parademons with his specialized batarangs. Not even a mecha-dino is a match for him. Second of two best lines — “Want to know who I am? I’m BATMAN!” I can hear that raspy, raging voice in my head. If I were to write the script, I’d add an expletive to really emphasize his identity. The HellBat armour is appropriately named because not only is Bruce wreaking havoc he’s raising all levels of hell here!! Just when things were going swimmingly, capture!
The supporting crew catch up to him. As Bruce becomes more consumed with anger, he plays three painful scenarios in his head all connecting to Damian’s death: Talia, The Heretic, and Ra’s Al-Ghul (I decided to go in reverse-order). Cyborg is awestruck by this single man’s stamina and steadfastness. A quick reality check is done by showing the ‘R’ emblem which represents everything Bruce is fighting for. Cooler heads prevail for sure. Just as he’s about to reprimand the Bat-Squad for abandoning Gotham, he dials it down and accepts their decision. He’s also pleased that Cyborg had a change-of-heart despite the dirty trick Bruce pulled on him.
Ever the master tactician, Bruce relays how he was making noise all along and wanted to be the target of Darkseid’s attention. That’s the only way he can truly get to Damian and spare him from further monstrosities. Jason gets in a quip by stating that Bruce went all ‘Red Lantern’. Bruce retorts that there were no fatalities and instructs Jason to use the stun setting to incapacitate the oncoming enemies. No fatalities?? Really?!? Could’ve fooled me!
Bruce is content to see the Robin uniforms on his partners. That’s two compliments in a row! Is he getting soft? Even in the most perilous of situations, there’s nothing like humour to diffuse the tension. One of the many lackeys communicates to Kalibak about committing suicide since he was incapable of stopping the ‘lone worm’. Kalibak wants him to load the Chaos Cannon before that happens. *chuckle* That moment of levity is all too brief as Bruce delivers a most POWerful punch! Red Robin shouts that Titus has found Damian. Cyborg proceeds to dismantle the cannon. Batman gets the better of Kalibak by taking his laser staff and blasting him halfway across the room. Touché! Or is it zappé?? Speaking of which, Cyborg gets majorly zapped by none other than…
….Darkseid!! Looks like Bruce’s mission was a success. I love his snarky remark: “About time you showed up.”
I’m glad that this time around I’m not reviewing the beginning or end of a storyline and/or issue. It’s refreshing to look at something halfway or in this case four-fifths. (Technically, this is a 7-part storyline but 5 parts within the main book). I collect this title and have been even before the New 52. I, like many other Damian fans, was sad/shocked/enraged/upset when he died. Since his absence, Peter Tomasi has been delivering his most poignant work. It’s all deliberate, mind you. Bruce has had to go through all the stages of grief and let time heal all wounds. In real time, it’ll be almost two whole years (Feb. 2013) since his departure and now inevitable return. I really hate reading spoilers X( At any rate, Tomasi was building up a beautiful relationship between father and son. It’s painfully obvious (pun intended) how much Bruce is hurting. This isn’t just a sidekick role that needs to be filled. He needs his biological son to be back at his side, to ground him, and to learn from him. The Robin uniforms first shown and donned last issue cannot be a more touching tribute. This was an easy and quick read but understandably so. It has to be fast and furious to convey the necessity of returning the Robin to the fold in one form or other.
Patrick Gleason is another bona fide professional in the ever-changing industry of rotating creative teams. He’s been on this title since day one (as well as issue 1). His art is wickedly versatile. At this point, he’s done it all: still, quiet moments, fast-paced action, and bombastic battles like in this very issue. He effectively uses three double-spreads (as previously mentioned). Plus, the last page is truly killer. What could be more ominous that a giant shadow looming over another darkly-clad character? Even though it’s black-on-black, I like how the outlines distinguish the two forms and do not mesh. This is apart from the red in the visor, of course.
Speaking of lines…Mick Gray is another consummate working man who’s been by Gleason’s side from the get-go (excluding the Villains Month issues). He brings Gleason’s designs to the forefront with sharp ‘cuts’. Never has Batman been as menacing as he is here. Take a gander at pages 1 and 9, page 11 panel 2, page 12 panel 3, and page 19, panel 4. Batman literally looks like a bat out of (rather in) Hell.
Red is the colour du jour and John Kalisz dabbles deftly in the damask. Black would be the secondary colour for obvious reasons. Apokolips really wouldn’t be a nice place to visit with all those fire pits and raving lunatics. C’mon, red is specifically mentioned for Hood, Robin, and even Lantern!! He has a bit of contrast to play with via Batgirl’s yellow gloves as well as Cyborg’s silver sheen.
Carlos M. Mangual expertly highlights Batman’s speech through that spooky suit. Plus, he antes up with two of the longest onomatopoeia I’ve ever read. The way he stretches out BRAKAKOOOOM is astounding. Also, FRAKKRAKSLAMWHAMSMASH is the best mash-up of sounds I’ve glanced upon. Way to go in terms of the full effect!!
Given Damian’s current age (10), I give this issue a knuckle-breaking 9 on the smash scale.
Tags: Batman, Batman and Robin, Darkseid, DC Comics, New 52 (DC Comics), New Gods, Robin