BATMAN & ROBIN #35 Review
“Robin Rises, pt. 3: Hellbound” (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: Gleason, Gray & Kalisz; Chris Burnham & Nathan Fairbairn
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Editor’s Note: Check out the other parts of the Robin Rises epic:
I’m gonna sub-title this “Raging Bat”. What better way to open a book than to have a breath-taking image of a bat-silhouette soaring across the scorched Apokoliptan landscape?
Batman in the über-cool Hellbat suit comes across a deadly ritual that’ll offer Lowlies in the fiery pits to appease Darkseid. While in cloak mode, Batman saves the ‘unfortunates’ and whisks them away to safety. He is hell bent on finding Glorious Godfrey. He’s so enraged that he crushes the head of a Parademon. As a result, the blood splatter has permeated his armour and landed on his left arm. He must move on. Ain’t nobody got time for that!!
Alfred, in many of his multiple hats, is feeding a small menagerie comprised of Batcow, Titus, and the cat that bears his name. He’s been trained really well because he senses the prodigal protégés returning: Batgirl, Red Robin, and Red Hood. While he applauds them for their stealth he lauds them more for the change of heart. Despite the events of “Death of the Family“, Bat-blood is thicker than Joker-venom. The trio are more than ready, willing, and able to give Bruce an assist. The one snag is that they need transportation since Mother Boxes are not everyday trinkets you just leave laying around. Tim, ever the young prodigy, realizes that Bruce’s teammate Cyborg can assist in the matter. Unfortunately, a dose of deception is in order and Alfred has just the tool to make it work.
While Alfred communicates with Batwing, he instructs the trio to speak with Batwoman essentially leaving Gotham under her watchful eye. There’s some humorous interaction between them. Batwoman is not sure if she inherited the key to the city or an extra burden on her shoulders. Either way, she’ll honour the request since she’s told that the three young ones may not come back from their ‘side trip’ and that the main protector is also N/A.
Kalibak kneels before a mausoleum with a giant omega symbol. Darkseid is in a deep sleep (like Odin?, or is he ‘dead’?) after his battle with the ‘Earthlings’ (Justice League). This mean that he hasn’t shown his face on the New 52 Earth in the five years since. That’s a good thing!! Why wake the dragon? At any rate, Kalibak wants to prove himself to his father. He has found some mythical items that will rouse him from his ‘healing sleep’. Logic dictates that Apokolips becomes stronger with Darkseid in it and vice-versa. *shiver* Bad tidings for sure!
Enter Cyborg. Subterfuge is definitely not in his vocabulary as the three young heroes inform him of their plan. Leave it to Alfred to be the one to execute the mission. He’s the GREATEST Bat-member of them all, IMO. While Cyborg is drifting in dreamland, his defense mechanics have been shut off. Barbara tinkers with the Boom Tube kept within him to open the portal to Apokolips. Due to Bruce’s perfecting of the technology beforehand, the odds look to be in their favour.
Like any savvy traveler, don’t leave home without your best suit. In this case, modified versions of Damian’s uniforms given by Alfred that conveniently fit each member and can handle the harsh Apokoliptan environment. One last thing to perfect it: the ‘R’ emblem to honour the fallen Damian and to remind them who they are fighting for. As Babs puts the final touches, BOOM!!! off they go. No sooner have they begun to enter the dark side (sorry, bad joke), Cyborg regains consciousness and pursues. Titus latches on to Vic’s metallic leg. He really must have strong teeth!
Back to Bats. He’s full of fury and is determined to put down GG. Who can blame him? Godfrey is the one who got the upper hand in Robin Rises: Omega and took Damian’s coffin. The Justifiers fail miserably in protecting the Glorious One. GG resorts to insults and threats in an attempt to intimidate Bruce. Little does he realize it’s the other way around! I smirked when he called Batman a “persistent peasant” and speculates that he could’ve taken down Bats on Earth had it not been for the intervention of the “colorful friends“. GG brags about being immortal but Bats is pretty sure he can feel pain and he’s more than ready to bring it on.
The Bat-Squad arrive in the nick of time to save a Hunger Dog from being cannibalized by his own kind. Cyborg and Titus land immediately after. At least Cyborg is a good sport and spares them of recriminations. The Hunger Dogs (they sure live up to their name) quickly focus their attention on the new meat, salivating away.
Finally!! A panel on the fallen son. HHHMMM, I just realized I inadvertently created a double meaning there. You figure it out 😉 Damian is so at peace that there are too many words to use and reasons to describe why he should not be defiled. The Chaos Cannon is fully built and as it powers up, KRAKAKOOM!!! One of the moons is obliterated as Batman looks upward. That’s what I call a fiery finish!
Peter Tomasi has been on fire (sorry) ever since issue number one. All of his stories keep raising the stakes. Just when you think things can’t be any cooler along comes the most absurd out-there idea ever in comicdom. He definitely must be channeling Jack Kirby because this fits like a glove, or gauntlet if the case may be. He paces the issue well with the break-neck speed of Bruce’s mission as well as the level-headed and ‘slow’ planning required to help him. Godfrey and Kalibak are definitely over-the-top as they should be while the heroes remain grounded (with the exception of Bruce, literally). Actions speak louder than words and there is no more touching tribute or obvious nod to Damian than donning his former costumes.
Patrick Gleason is no slouch by any means. He beautifully and simply renders the Hellbat in all its frightening splendor and glory. Even if I’m aware that it’s Bruce inside, part of me doesn’t think that. He’s the ultimate version of terror. This is how Bruce should look if he were to first appear in a book circa 2014. Pat knocks it out of the park with all the peripheral details that most readers (like myself) might overlook — the landscape, the Lowlies, the Hunger Dogs. He even gives Batcow an indifferent look. Priceless!
Mick Gray brings out the best in Pat’s drawings. Faces are just as important. He highlights Alfred’s efficiency, Red Hood’s readiness, Batgirl’s willingness, Tim’s precociousness, Kalibak’s boar-like features, and Godfrey’s vainglory. The topper is the Hellbat. I just can’t enough of it.
One might think that using tons of black is an easy way out. Not in this case. It’s beyond crucial to the story. John Kalisz has the black stand out predominantly in the blood-red skies that you’re aware a foreign ferocious force has invaded the planet. Having the Hellbat in various poses creates the most striking images ever to grace the pages of a comic book.
Lastly, Carlos M. Mangual flexes his fingers by doing more than the standard sentences. The title of the story is pretty frickin’ wick-ed. He also nails it with the smaller things like the labelling of Apokolips and the noises made by each pet as they surround Cyborg. This is on top of the required but at-times imaginative sound effects.
To remind all of us what this story is about, I give this book eight R emblems, in honour of the young master Wayne (no, not Bruce).
Tags: Batman, Batman and Robin, Robin