Talk about heartbreaking! The only other time I was this glassy eyed by the end of a Batman comic was Neil Gaiman’s Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?
I’ll tell you right now that this is an absolute, 100% must-buy issue. Not only is it an incredibly important comic to own because it deals with the aftermath of recent events head-on, but it’s a exceedingly well crafted comic book that evokes strong emotions from the reader. And before you open it up and go “They forgot to print words in my comic!” know that this is a silent issue. What’s that mean? It means that no character utters a single word nor are there any sound effects. Besides a list of movie recommendations from someone named “C.K.” (who I assume is Clark Kent) in the book’s opening pages the story relies entirely on the artwork by Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, and John Kalisz who put their heart and soul into this thing.
In regards to the movie recommendations list, I went ahead and took the time to transcribe it for you. Otherwise you’ll either give yourself eyestrain or you’ll have to rummage around for a magnifying glass. Not that letterer Taylor Esposito did a poor job, quite the contrary. The list of movies is inconsequential to what’s going on in the story and I was actually really surprised that anything substantial was written at all! Usually when I examine a newspaper blowing in the wind or a magazine on a rack that’s been drawn into the panel of a comic book closely its text is never anything more than a paragraph of “asdfjklasdfjklasdfjkl” repeated but this is a legitimate list of quality films written teeny-tiny. I had to work to see what they were! It’s a nice little Easter Egg.
- On the Waterfront (1954)
- Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
- My Left Foot (1989)
- Cool Hand Luke (1967)
- To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
- Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
- The Sand Pebbles (1966)
- Grapes of Wrath (1940)
- The Miracle [The Miracle Worker (1962)] (The next few are covered by the C.K. post-it note so this is me guessing here)
- Central [Central Station (1998)]
- Gorillas in [Gorillas in the Mist (1988)]
- Lion in the [The Lion in Winter (1968)] (I know it’s not “The Lion in…” as the comic says but it’s the only thing that makes sense to me. The Lion in Winter is a brilliant movie that everyone should see. I have no clue what “Lion in the” could be otherwise)
- China Syndrome (1979)
I’ve seen all of those except for The Sand Pebbles, Central Station, Gorillas in the Mist, and China Syndrome. How many Superman (if that’s indeed who it was) recommended films have you seen?
But anyway, back to the comic. By now I’ve already written more words in this review than there are in Batman and Robin #18‘s pages. So as you can imagine, it can be a pretty fast read but that in no way means it isn’t worth purchasing. You could easily fly through this issue while standing at the shelf of your comic shop. You could also just say “Oh, it’s the one where Batman mopes and nothing else happens.” and dismiss it. But if you ask me that would be pretty close-minded and foolish. I urge you to buy it and really take your time and admire the level of detail. With all the weight of the storytelling on the artists it’s evident that they had to give it their all. As an example I included some of the preview pages with this review. A cursory glance of page #2 gets the point across that Bruce and Titus are mourning inside of Damian’s empty room– but don’t move on. Not yet. Look at the desk next to Damian’s mattress, it’s the iPod he listened to as he slept in several issues before. Now look to the wall where his swords hang. Look again to the fireplace mantle where the Red Hood helmet Robin took as a trophy in Batman and Robin #11 now stands on display. If you flip through these pages too quickly you’ll miss out on the minutiae of a life.
Peter Tomasi took quite a bit of care to include elements from pre-New 52 continuity as well. You’ll see from the preview images that the bat-family portrait which was introduced in Batman and Robin: White Knight has resurfaced in an integral scene.
Batman and Robin is a terrific series to read right now. Between this, the last issue, and the Annual, I would even go so far as calling it my current favorite of all the Bat-titles. Issue #18 is such a superbly illustrated, emotional comic that I’ll likely flip through it a few more times before the week is out. Nearly all of the bat-titles feature the “Requiem” tagline this month but no other comic will make you feel the pain of loss as hard as Batman and Robin #18.
Check out a few preview pages in the gallery below, courtesy of DC Comics.