Part four of the Robin Rises saga is sure to delight many readers. Whereas other titles take a more subtle approach to Batman, this one is letting Bruce off the leash –with rabies. I have qualms with some mechanics of the story, but reading it in light of past issues and where the story is heading, I feel ultimately this is the comic we need to see right now.
There is not a lot to spoil, but SPOILERS FOLLOW.
As with every issue in the series, the story pics up exactly where it left off with Hellbat Bruce interrogating Glorious Godfrey and the Robin Rescue Regiment arriving on Apokolips. Bruce convinces Godfrey to tell him (and us) all about Kalibak and what’s going on with Damian and the chaos shard, while the RRR fight their way past Apokoliptians hell bent on eating them. Bruce and the RRR run into each other at the chaos cannon where Kalibak, Damian, the chaos shard, and Darkseid are located. Close the back flap. End issue.
Bruce goes bananas (I also considered the word “apeshit” but it looked too much like “apes hit” to me and I didn’t like it…either way, it’s primate related) on a ton of folks. Stellar panels of his menacingly black silhouette against red and black skies are scattered through the issue and many look amazing. The strength of the suit that’s displayed helps nail down the fact that Bruce is out to do anything to get his son back. He flies in through a windshield and out the rear thrusters of a space ship, blowing it to pieces for crying out loud. If you ever wondered who would win, Hellbat or the Green Power Ranger’s Dinozord, this issue will clarify that.
There are several flashback/hallucination/mental image things that happen to Bruce. I didn’t understand them at first, as I thought somehow he’d landed in water and saw bubbles floating everywhere with Damian, but it became clear. These “remembrance panels” are juxtaposed in the story to remind us why Bruce is doing what he’s doing. It brings a sense of emotionality that might otherwise be lost in all the action. It maintains that heart that we’ve come to expect from Batman & Robin, and for that I’m grateful.
The story also brings us to a tantalizing final tease, though we all knew it was coming:
What Doesn’t Work
As much as I enjoyed seeing badass Batman and those remembrance panels, many of the scenes feel disjointed. Many times I just accept that someone is fighting or flying somewhere and it will look cool once they get there. I’ve said before, Gleason’s wide shots are balanced and look amazing. It’s in those close-up shots that I have a hard time following him. I suppose, if I’m being fair, it isn’t that it’s hard to follow eventually, it just takes away from the flow of the story. I wasn’t a fan of nearly any page that included the RRR and several, even, with Bruce.
The page where Bruce and the RRR finally meet felt strange. Bruce, after making sure that the RRR was going to watch over Gotham and not come to Apokolips, is basically just fine with it after two seconds. If he thinks they’ve left Gotham in good hands, why didn’t he leave it in their hands to begin with? Also, Tomasi has Bruce tell us, “Everything I’m doing’s strategic –I want his eyes on me– I need to face him again to bring Damian back.” I don’t want to hear Bruce tell us that. “Show, don’t tell” as the saying goes.
- You’ve always wanted to see a raging and super-powered Batman.
- Red and black are your favorite colors.
- You’re following Robin Rises. You’ll want this issue.
Hellbat Bruce beats the mess out of a ton of folks. He is angry. He is powerful. Despite a few oddities in the story, this issue does what it needs to do to further the Robin Rises saga and ramp up the excitement for the conflict to come.