Monday, March 18, 2013

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 3/13

Batman #18
Story: Scott Snyder/ Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Art: Andy Kubert/ Alex Maleev

One of the two issues this week to deal with Batman's reaction to the death of Robin, this one is told through the lens of supporting character Harper Row, created at the beginning of Scott Snyder's run, and the star of Batman #12 as well. This, like the previous Harper Row issue, is a character piece, really focusing on Harper and her desire to help Batman, and to help all of Gotham. Harper sees the spiral Batman is going down, one similar to the one he went down after the death of Jason Todd, and she steps up to help him, to try to snap him out of it. It's actually pretty similar to the way Tim Drake was introduced, with one exception: Harper doesn't care who Batman is under the mask. She cares about what he means to Gotham. This seems to be one of the central themes that Snyder has been playing with since his run on Batman began: what Batman means to Gotham. It started with the first line of his first issue, asking what is Gotham to its people. There is a well done action sequence as well, with Batman fighting a group of Venom enhanced fighting dogs, and Harper proving herself to be capable of taking care of herself in the field with enough preparation. But what's really important are the character moments. The moments Harper spends with her brother, with their wonderfully written familial bond; the first time Batman confronts Harper in the issue, where he breaks her nose and tells her to leave him alone; the moment when Harper meets Bruce Wayne, and tells him the things he wouldn't listen to as Batman; and the moment when Batman actually apologizes to Harper (has Batman EVER apologized to anyone else?) and listens to her. We also get more about Harper's background, learning her father is a con now in Blackgate, and captured by Batman, and her mother was the victim of a high profile murder some years earlier. I wonder if that will play into Snyder's upcoming "Year Zero" story. The final page can either be read as Batman standing and looking at the giant R, feeling the weight of his loss and maybe coming to terms with it, or the hint that Harper will, indeed, be the next Robin. I'm not willing to way in on this yet, but one way or the other, I'm expecting more Harper Row and looking forward to it.

Batman and Robin #18
Story: Peter J. Tomasi
Art: Pat Gleason

The silent issue has been done quite often since the legendary Snake Eyes issue of G.I. Joe, which might not have been the first, but is probably the best known, and they sometimes work, and sometimes fall very flat. This issue is one of the amazing successes. The issue, the final of the series to be titles Batman and Robin for now, shows Batman, Alfred, and Titus (Damian's dog), and how they are dealing with the death of Damian. Alfred is sad, and seems to be going about his duty haunted by the loss of his young master. Batman, little surprise here, is angry, full of rage, and is taking it out on the criminals of Gotham. The action pages show him cutting a swath through the criminal underbelly of Gotham, leaving the bodies of a legion of criminals tied up and waiting for the Gotham police. The ending was a truly devastating moment, as Batman finds the note left behind by Damian before he left to meet his fate. The note is the only written words in the comic, and reading it sets Batman off in a new fit, smashing the case holding the costume of Damian, and finally collapsing, clutching his son's costume in his arms. I know there are some who believe Batman is this cold, emotionless robot of a man, but I have always believed he is driven by his emotions; rage, sadness, and a sense of compassion that runs deeper than either. I think his collapse at the end is perfectly in character, and it fits perfectly to see them take over as he mourns the death of his son.

1 comment:

Mark Kuhn said...

Gotta congratulate you again, Matt. Your blog is filled with insightful reviews without all the negative hype and rhetoric found elsewhere on other comic book forums.
I always know I can come here and get an educated, honest review written with a positive tone.