BATMAN AND ROBIN #36 Author: Bobby Barrett (Follow @BATBOBBY)
November 23, 2014
SYNOPSIS: “Robin Rises” continues as Batman and his allies make their push toward the heart of Apokolips!
When crafting a story involving a deceased fictional character's resurrection, the terms "grounded" and "realism" are likely to go out the window fairly quickly. It's honorable, then, that Peter J. Tomasi has driven his "Robin Rises" storyline as far as you can get from your typical "urban crime" backdrop in Batman lore. The writer understands that the idea of reviving dead characters in itself contradicts the basis of The Dark Knight as the most "realistic" of superheroes – and has decided that it makes more sense to just elevate old Batsy to "larger-than-life sci-fi hero" rather than to try and bring back our dead Robin in a way that fits within the realm of what we typically expect from Batman stories.
What drives the story is Bruce Wayne's relentless determination to bring his son back from a foreign planet. We get to witness some gnarly action as Batman rips through minions of Apokolips in a suped-up, demonic looking suit as he does what he does best: kicking ass and taking names. Some of his dialogue is borderline hilarious as Tomasi delights in writing "asshole Batman", ala Frank Miller…seriously, there's one scene of Batman introducing himself to a foe where it wouldn't have felt at all out of place to have him say, "I'm the goddamn Batman!"
Oh yeah, Batman has help on Apokolips – from Robin! Robins, actually. Bruce Wayne's most trusted allies have crossed the universe to aid their mentor, and thanks to some wardrobe reinforcement from our dear Mr. Pennyworth, they are all sporting the red and green with the "R" emblem. If you miss Tim Drake as Robin, here he is! Same for Jason Todd, though he still keeps his Red Hood on. And hey, if you ever wondered what Barbara Gordon would look like as a Robin, here you go! Nice to have some "R" representation even if the son of Batman still sleeps (for now).
Speaking of which, don't turn Batman's son into a projectile weapon. Just don't do it. It's not going to go over well. Darkseid is about to discover this…
BATMAN AND ROBIN #36 Cover
There's no beating around the bush here, this story is weird. Luckily its entertainment value outweighs this tale's otherworldly nature. For any who might be put off by this arc's setting and choice of nemeses, I'd say not to worry. I'm a Batman fan first and foremost and have but a passing knowledge of the greater DC Universe. That being said, I've had no problem understanding what's going on during "Robin Rises", and Tomasi has been smart to make the Bat Family the central focus of the narrative, so that even though this is a true sci-fi tale, it still feels like a Batman one.
Patrick Gleason is right at home with this stuff, too. The penciller has proven time and again that he truly thrives on depicting bizarre, horror-infused imagery. The Bat Family wading through the wastelands of Apokolips, battling cannibalistic aliens certainly falls under that category. His always-ready finishing team of Mick Gray (inks) and John Kalisz (colors) know just what to do to enrich Gleason's layouts, providing depth and vibrance to bring each page to life.
The grand finale of "Robin Rises" is right around the corner, and even though DC somewhat spoiled the outcome last month, I'm still riveted to see how it comes together. - Bobby Barrett
Bobby Barrett is a lifelong Batman enthusiast living in Fresno, California, with his wife and several cats.
He enjoys reading, writing, acting, and playing very loud rock music.