Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils: Patrick Gleason
Inks: Mick Gray
Colors: John Kalisz
Last month, ‘Batman & Robin’ released a silent issue, as Batman and Alfred mourned the death of the fifth bearer of the Robin mantle (fourth, if you’re only counting DCnU), Damian Wayne. Among the items found by Batman as he dug through Damian’s room was a list of recommended movies, signed by a CK. Fans assumed it was Clark Kent, but learned this month that it’s in fact Carrie Kelly, the first female Robin who had previously only appeared in Frank Miller’s classic ‘The Dark Knight Returns’. Kelly is thrust in to the DC Universe as a college student Damian had hired to secretly tutor him. Her appearance is but brief and fan-servicey; in fact, there’s no reason for it to BE Carrie Kelly other than to create the shock cover of Carrie as Robin to encourage more buys of the issue.
No, the bulk of this book, dubbed ‘Batman & Red Robin’ for this issue, features Bruce traveling to the antarctic to capture Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE, to examinine him and learn how to resurrect his son. Worried about what Bruce is doing, Alfred sends Red Robin to find him and calm him down. A fight doesn’t necessarily ensue, though Red Robin does throw a plane at him, destroying the lab where Frankenstein was created. Frankenstein pleads with Batman not to put Damian through the hell he lives in, and that he is an inhuman creation, going so far as to let Batman dissect him to see what he’s made of, but at story’s end a grieving Batman still has no solace and no answers.
The problem is how short the story falls, with there being no real discussion of Batman’s grief or opportunity for him to register what’s going on. Sadly, the best story that could have happened here is no longer a possibility.
You may remember some time in the late 2000’s, when Tim Drake was still Robin, that he went a little crazy. Shortly after the death of Superboy, we find he had built his own “Robin Cave” at Titan Tower and was working on trying to clone Superboy to get his friend back. This was shortly after the story ‘Identity Crisis’, which saw Tim lose his father to the villain Captain Boomerang. Some time later, in the storyline ‘The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul’, Tim was tempted with the opportunity to resurrect his parents using a Lazarus Pit, but ultimately was persuaded against it by Nightwing.
Tim Drake has already DEALT with these problems pre-New 52, and it’s a shame they no longer exist. A heartfelt conversation between Tim and Batman, an issue of the two admitting their own heartbreaks and how they’ve changed and are still changing them, would have been a fantastic issue, and one that would certainly have been memorable; instead, we get Tim being kind of a douchebag, barely making an effort to stop Bruce from dissecting Frankenstein before destroying the entire lab.
Instead, we get a disjointed tale, only half of a story with the tacked on fan service introduction to a character who has no business existing in the New 52. It’s a shame. ‘Batman & Robin’ has been such a solid book so far, but in this issue that could have had so much impact and potential, the story falls off the rails.