Batman and Robin: Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, Keith Champagne, Tom Nguyen, John Kalisz, Allen Passalaqua, Hi-Fi, Carlos M. Mangual
This issue has some great imagery. I really enjoyed that. At the same time, there’s a little bit of silliness, a little bit of craziness, and a pinch of villain-who-doesn’t-seem-threatening.
The issue starts with the promised attack on Red Hood from Damian. The two fight it out, and trade some pretty hurtful words. They both make valid points, as well. Here’s me, though, still wondering why. Obviously Jason’s trying to do right and help people, as seen in Red Hood and the Outlaws, so Damian cannot think of him as a villain. So this is a matter of pride. But what does Damian have to be afraid of? None of them are gunning for his position next to Batman. It still doesn’t make total sense to me, Damian’s motivation. Is it just whim?
Afterwards, we find that Terminus’s new band of merry bat-haters are out in the city branding citizens and policemen alike, thus earning them the nicknames “the Branders.” They all have white-hot branding irons that have the bat-symbol on the ends, and some of them, like Bootface (great name), are firing branding irons from weapons, that burn on impact. I’m not quite sure how a gun like that would operate, but hey, it’s interesting.
What I think is cool that Tomasi did is he turned Batman’s symbol against the people. There are people in this issue hiding indoors as Batman goes by, afraid that he’ll attack them. I usually like stories where a villain turns the people against Batman. It helps to maintain his mystery with them. I’ve never really enjoyed it when Batman just appears out among the people, that never jived with the character for me.
Here’s where the silliness comes in, though. I think it’s just because Batman’s so enraged by what these Branders are doing to his image and symbol, using it against him in such a violent way, but he starts shouting into the night at them. Things like, “Leave my city alone!” and “Stop preying on innocent people like terrorists.” He also says, to Gordon, he’s going “Back out there to shut these freaks down.” That all seems out of character for Batman. He’s never been one to call his enemies “freaks,” as he’s usually more sensitive to their mental health.
Again, perhaps it’s the rage talking.
As I mentioned, there’s great imagery here, and some of Gleason’s art is outstanding. The main splash pages come to mind. Batman standing over the beaten Branders with his chestplate still glowing, Batman and Robin on the car as the buildings around them burn, Batman ascending from the car as the sun rises behind him. I love those burning bat symbols in the high-rises, it reminds me very much of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Terminus here, I’m still not sure what his whole deal is. He’s confusing because he doesn’t explain anything. He just does his thing, plans, plots, watches. He injects himself with stuff to keep his body from decaying. I don’t even know why he’s decaying in the first place. But now he’s out in the open, and perhaps we’ll learn more about him next issue.
Batman and Robin #11, the verdict: So while this issue had the most out-of-character moments for Batman, I still enjoyed it. I like the use of symbolism and the reversal of the sign of a protector. I loved the art, which is always fantastic with Gleason (though all the lines on Red Hood’s helmet is weird). And Terminus still seems like a strange villain with only a cliche “I hate Batman” motivation. I’m not sure what his deal is. Part of me wants to buy into the mystery of it, but the majority of me just wants to know what’s going on.
(Photo Source: Fruitless Pursuits)