It seems like there are two kinds of Batman & Robin readers, those who sit back and enjoy the book for what it’s worth, and those who just want to whinge about how much they miss Grant Morrison’s run. I’m having a blast with what Tomasi and Gleason are producing and the only thing that I really didn’t like about this particular issue was the cover which isn’t only misleading with its shot of Batman and Robin about to brawl, but the tag line “Above the skies of Gotham…Dark Knight Battles DEMON SEED!” is just the sort of cheesy nonsense that keeps some folks in the closet about their comic reading. I’d be embarrassed to read a book with this cover in public– “Dark Knight Battles DEMON SEED!” There is NOTHING cool about that.
So last issue ended with NoBody forcing Damian to shoot the dirty diplomat in the head as a test of his dedication. Did Damian pull the trigger? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. Like I’ve said before, I don’t like getting into spoilers when it comes to issues that I like. What I will say is that it was handled perfectly.
So stepping away from Damian, let’s turn to Bruce. Issue #6 serves up some fantastic flashbacks of Bruce’s time in the service of Henry Ducard. In that time we see the Ducard family’s deceptive tendencies and a few more reasons why NoBody hates Bruce so much.
The art is phenomenal and it has to be to tell a story that spans across time and continents. Through storms of rain and sand we follow Bruce has he learns from one of the world’s greatest killers. Every character has a distinct look and although I picked on Nobody for looking like a cross between Morpheus and The Sentinels from The Matrix, his design has grown on me and a shot of him with half of his mask removed so we see all the little nodes and gizmos behind the scenes is pretty cool. The book also has one of my favorite shots of any Batman book so far in the New 52, a full page shot of Bruce through shattered glass as he’s about to…well, you’ll see.
For those who were used to Grant Morrison pushing boundaries with sci-fi and fantasy a story that touches on Bruce’s past might seem kind of boring or cliche, but you need to consider that when it comes to the New 52 initiative Batman’s titles have hardly been new reader friendly and we need tales like this to introduce this history to readers who are less likely to dig around for old back issues, buy classic trades, and only know what they learned from watching Batman Begins.
This book features a very formidable, deceptive villain with clear motivations, a lot of twists and turns that some may see coming but are fun none the less, wonderful artwork (Mick Gray and John Kalisz do a fantastic job with the coloring in different levels of shadow in each unique locale), a satisfying cliffhanger (if there is such a thing), and adds a welcome new chapter to Bruce’s past.