Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Batman and Robin Volume 3: Death of the Family

Written by Peter J Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason

            Batman and Robin may bring some confusion on first glance as to how this could tie into Death of the Family.  After all, Batman already had his own arc, and as much multitasking as the Joker is doing during the crossover, it would be a little silly to have him doing two plots simultaneously against Batman.  Instead, this is really a focus on Damian Wayne’s Robin, and the own challenge he faces at the hands of the Joker.
            As with Batgirl, this is a series I haven’t really been following since the New 52, so I don’t know what Damian and Bruce have been up to in recent months.  I have a little more familiarity here than with Batgirl for the simple fact that I have read most of Grant Morrison’s Batman run, which focused greatly on Damian, Bruce Wayne’s son for those who haven’t been following things too closely.  The Death of the Family part of this book continues to follow his arc.  Whereas most of the Robins are taken in by Bruce and trained from the beginning, Damian is decidedly different.  He was raised by his mom, Talia Al Ghul, and has the attitude of an assassin.  Bruce has been trying to reel him back a bit, but as always, the Joker knows just the right buttons to push.  In this case, it’s putting Damian in a situation where the “no kill” rule doesn’t just get tested: it’s a rule he wants to follow, but the possibility of doing so seems more and more impossible.  The Death of the Family crossover may only cover 3 of the 5 issues in this collection (and only two of those are from Batman and Robin), but it shows that Tomasi can leave a striking story in a fairly short amount of pages.  And it’s helped out by Gleason’s thoroughly creepy art, which leads the whole thing to have a rather surreal quality about it.
            The other two issues featured here are…alright.  The first is the B&R annual, which has Damian sending Bruce out of Gotham to find some relics of his parents’ past…which Damian also happens to use as an excuse to be Batman for a bit.  It’s a nice story, and those who’ve been following the Damian arc will probably appreciate how its evolution shows well here, but it’s not necessarily a must-read.  The other story is a series of dreams from Damian, Bruce, and Alfred, all dealing with the aftermath of Death of the Family.  It adds a little more flavor to the event, but again, it’s just a nice story.  If you’re here for the Death of the Family stuff, these are nice extras, but they don’t stick quite as well as the main event.

            Ultimately, it’s those who have been following Batman and Robin and Damian Wayne that will get the most out of this book.  Those just picking it up to get a little more Joker vs. Batfamily won’t get as much out of it. 

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