I’m going to go ahead an spoil it for you: this is an excellent issue. Go ahead, quit reading this review and pick up a copy right now. I hope you all had a great Batman Day!

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This issue picks up exactly where Robin Rises: Omega left off. It claims to be “Part One” by the banner on the Gleason cover, but practically this isn’t the case. In my mind this is more like part 33 with a few annuals and one-shots sprinkled in, but I guess it’s a practical marketing technique to give a beginning to “Robin Rises”, and so this shall be.

Last issue Bruce decides he’s going to Apokolips to get Damian’s body and hopefully bring him back to life with the Chaos Shard. Or is it the Chaos Sliver? Glorious Godfrey refers to it as the “Chaos Shard” during last issue’s confrontation but this time it’s the “Chaos Sliver”. It’s not that deep, but it’s either a clear distinction between the two objects or a mistake by an editor. Regardless, Bruce is headed to Apokolips and the rest of the Justice League doesn’t want him to go. Bruce looks menacing as ever on the very first page. You don’t even have to read the word bubble to know what he’s saying, and that’s great. Great job Mr. Gleason.

The team takes turns expressing to Batman why (though he is always right and always thinks ahead) he’s actually wrong this time, that he’s actually being motivated by emotions and acting irrationally. It’s a great way of delving into Bruce’s thoughts without realizing Tomasi is posing questions to Batman that he wants us to hear. There’s a moment during all this discussion where Cyborg tries to tell Batman he’s wrong, and in the manner of an older, wiser man, he places his hand on Batman’s shoulder. It took me a second to remember that Cyborg is actually very young. Then I understood why he did it.

Spoiler
Batman, I guess, knew he was going to be touched by Cyborg and somehow sends an electric signal through his cape into Cyborg’s computer and transports himself to the Watchtower. It’s actually the reverse of the usual “Batman Departure” where he disappears while Commissioner Gordon or someone else has their head turned. This time, he does it while they’re all staring at him. Boom, gone. It’s still very, very bat-cool.
Frankenstein has one line this issue but it’s perfect for him. I’m not saying I’d want a monthly Frankenstein comic (I might be interested in one), but between Futures End and here, I’m loving Frankenstein.

Bruce and the Justice League continue their discussion in a different locale and makes some incredibly good points about superheroes in general and Batman specifically. I won’t spoil all that’s said because I believe Tomasi does a superb job revealing to us Batman’s inner and outer struggle with the loss of his son, the approach of Apokolips, and philosophical ramifications of interjecting into others’ lives. There is, however, one important thing I need mention before we continue.

Spoiler
Hellbat. It’s one page of Batman staring up into this Iron Batman suit shrouded in red smoke and contained only by crazy strong-looking chains. There is a page where Wonder Woman is explaining the creation of the Hellbat suit. “…forged in the sun by Superman…” It reads and looks like something out of those early Superman cartoons and I love it. The reasoning behind the creation of Hellbat is that Batman is the only non-super person serving in the Justice League and he may need extra protection. I’m glad to see this acknowledged here in this manner. It shows that Batman really has the most risk when it comes to all the fighting and therefore the most grit. I’m looking forward to presumably seeing him in it on Apokolips, even if it means me stepping out of my solely crime-fighting-detective-work Batman box.

We also get to hear from Superman this issue! Since Batman/Superman has been delayed until Christmas 2056 I’m glad to see them interact. However, as happy as I am to see the man in the red and blue, it compares very little to the big reveal. You see…

Spoiler
While Bruce is talking to Clark by the gravesite of Damian, the rest of the BatFamily have congregated in the Batcave. Barbara, Tim, Jason and Alfred are all standing as if prepared to help Bruce on his mission to bring back Damian. Everyone is clad in their costumed attire and it absolutely had me excited. Practically, I’m not sure what will happen. Will they all go to Apokolips? Will Bruce be the only one in super Hellbat armor, leaving the rest to their domino masks and capes? Yeah, I don’t know how it will play out, but it succeeds in the excitement department.

It felt like there were so many more “moments” in this issue ($2.99 32-page) than the Robin Rises: Omega ($4.99 48-page) issue. We are treated to a wide variety of individuals with near-perfect characterizations that made this issue feel…filling. The artwork is Gleason-strong, always bringing emotion to his work to further a story. I really liked this issue.

Recommended if:

  • You are following Robin Rises.
  • You like a prepared Bruce.
  • You wanna see some really cool reveals.

Overall:

A very strong character-oriented issue, Batman & Robin #33 outshines Robin Rises: Omega in my opinion in terms of value and substance. A large supporting cast helps shed light on both Bruce’s intentions and the bigger Apokolips/Darkseid threat. There isn’t much to complain about at all here, and in fact, very much to get excited about. I’m ready for next month!

SCORE: 9/10

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