What I'm Reading: BATMAN AND R̶O̶B̶I̶N̶ 20, 21, 22
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Okay! So It's been a while Halftone... I know, but just because the posts haven't been steadily coming, this does not mean I wasn't reading comics... because I am always reading comics. Anyway, this entry we will focus on the last three issues of the New 52 Batman and Robin book. If you remember from an earlier post, I talked about how Damian Wayne (the most recent Robin and Bruce Wayne's son with Talia al Ghul) died during the events of Batman Incorporated issue 8. This pushed Bruce to a whole new level of madness and while still fresh from the scars left behind from the "Death of the Family" story arc, this more desperate and brash Batman is beginning to push away the key members of his family, then again... he did lose his son in quite a violent fashion... it's hard to really blame the guy.
Continuing from Batman and Robin issue 19 (the one featuring Carrie Kelley on the cover) Bats is still desperate to find a way to save his son. After his run in with Frankenstein of the Justice League Dark and his own former boy wonder, Red Robin in issue 19, Batman begins to take a different approach in issue 20 where he recruits Jason Todd, former Robin and current Red Hood, for a mission. It's all peaches and gravy until Jason begins to suspect why Bruce brought him along in the first place. Much like how desperate he was to find answers by dissecting Frankenstein in the previous issue, he pushes again by taking Jason back to where he died all those years ago.
He's justifying this to find answers, perhaps the location of a Lazarus pit he can stick his son into. This of course doesn't bode well and the two scuffle a bit. I can really relate to Jason here, as desperate as Bruce has become it's a pretty low blow to make someone you presumably care about be forced to relive one of the worst days of his life. Speaking of Jason Todd, this issue continues the trend for the character to be more a pure hero rather than the anti-hero/occasional villain he was in previous books. I don't hate it, but I do wish he was a bit more brutal. Anyway, eventually Jason leaves Bruce in the desert.
By the time the events of Batman and Robin issue 21, Bruce has become a shell of his former self. He's not the cool calculated detective he was before the death of his son, this Batman is more brutal and seems to act more on instinct than anything else. Featured player in this issue is Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), still reeling from the events of the Joker's plan and having removed the bat-symbol from her costume. Bruce sees this as a sort of resignation from the "family" and responds in a curt and dismissive manner to his once former protégé. This forces Barbara to have to track him and place him under surveillance. During a hostage situation, Batman's actions are so brash he even takes down Detective Bullock when he was trying to stop his streak of brutality.
This culminates to a confrontation Barbara has with Bruce in the Batcave immediately after. Following losing his temper at how she placed him under surveillance, Barbara shatters the glass surrounding Jason Todd's old costume and offers to be his Robin if he needs it. Much like how Tim Drake pleaded to become his Robin after the death of Jason Todd, Barbara knows that Batman needs a Robin. Bruce simply asks her to leave while turning his back on her... another member of his "family" pushed away.
Do you see a bit of a trend here? It looks like until they either find a way to bring Damian back to life or Batman recruits a new Robin, these issues will continue in this "team up" format. Next we have a more unlikely of team up with Catwoman taking Bruce's side in this issue. By this point she was already recruited by the Justice League of America contacts Bruce for a mission to save a kidnapped diplomat. Breaking from the trend the last few issues, Bats just can't win when it comes to Catwoman, Selina Kyle knows just how to wrap him up between her fingers, I really do prefer the more heroic Catwoman, plus... I just want them to be together. Much like the Earth 2 Batman and Catwoman being husband and wife, I pretty much "ship" them.
This issue continues to be different because he doesn't push her away, even when he finds out that the mission was to rescue a little girl and not a Chinese diplomat. The final scene has Batman cracking a bit of a smile as he and Catwoman swing across the city with the little girl in tow. Perhaps he's beginning to come to terms with Damian's death? While I know that death never seems to "truly" be permanent in the DCU, I would like it if Damian stayed dead, perhaps this would be a good time to recruit Carrie Kelley to take on the Robin mantle. Speaking of Carrie Kelley, she makes another appearance in these issues, prompting me to think that she'll stick around for a while. I dig it and cute plucky red-heads are kinda the bees knees.
Personally, I hope they resolve this soon. I've been a huge fan of the Batman and Robin comics and especially with the previous Grant Morrison Batman and Robin comics, it's a team that belongs together. My vote for Carrie Kelley still stands, or perhaps this could be a good chance to introduce Stephanie Brown back into the New 52 continuity.