BATMAN AND ROBIN #40
Author: Bobby Barrett (Follow @BATBOBBY)
March 29, 2015

SYNOPSIS: Damian’s powers have been a source of concern to Batman – and it’s only a matter of time before he’s called up to the big leagues!

The final installment of BATMAN AND ROBIN has dropped, and what a bittersweet moment it is. Writer Peter Tomasi and his enthusiastic art team have firmly carved their niche in the "New 52" era of Batman, and the team's last hurrah delivers a perfect example of what makes this book great: an action-packed blockbuster on the outside that ultimately proves to be a layered heartfelt, thoughtful story of family. Everything that made this series great is present here in issue #40.

The Robin/Justice League team-up boasted on the cover opens the story and delivers some of the most epic action we've seen. Penciler Pat Gleason is clearly bringing everything he has to the table in order to make this scene pack the most cinematic punch. Mick Gray (inks) and John Kalisz (colors) are so familiar with Gleason's style that they know exactly the right finish to put on every panel to make the image pop right out and occasionally make you forget that you are looking at an image someone drew rather than a still from a movie. No spoilers, but look at that splash page with the lightning – you'll know what I mean!

Damian's ability to work with others has made tremendous strides over the course of this series, and even Batman comments on how nice it is to see him as such a functional team player. The boy quickly reminds us that he is ten years old, however, downplaying the Leaguers' contributions once the dust settles. It's actually one of the chapter's many subtly humorous moments – every time Damian recounts the story, his role gets bigger and bigger. Damien is clearly written by someone with an understanding of kids.

Speaking of understanding kids, the real character standout here is Bruce Wayne. The Dark Knight has tackled thousands of challenges in his time, but fatherhood has been among the most perplexing for him. Obviously, crossing the universe to a hellish wasteland planet to resurrect your son should earn you some points in the "Father of the year" department, but it's the little things that really show Bruce's growth…understanding the big picture, rather than trying to control every little thing Damian does; taking the boy's rambunctious nature with a little humor and sarcasm (that "Try not to break Alfred" comment got a good chuckle from me); understanding how to get desired results from Damian by appealing to his interests; overall just learning to let loose a bit and not being serious all of the time (I like my Batman to have some sense of humor).

In addition, Damian scores some serious points in the thoughtfulness department – something he's become increasingly skilled at--by completing a project that began much earlier in the series…and thus, wrapping everything up in a neat little bow, getting these characters ready for their next era. The final pages that wrap up both this issue, and ultimately the "Robin Rises" aftermath, take on an increasingly sentimental tone. Peter Tomasi is clearly a writer who cares about what he's doing and the characters he's spending his time with, and the lovingly crafted final scenes surely evoked an emotional response from the author, as they did Yours Truly as a reader. We get one last peek at all the characters and pets that have been part of Damian Wayne's home, one last trip down the Bat-Poles (seriously, this is the only current Bat Book that features the Bat-Poles! Respect.), one last journey into the night.

And if that last bit of dialogue doesn't choke you up a little bit, I don't know what will. Farewell, BATMAN AND ROBIN. May history remember you as the unique, meaningful series that you were; and may your collected editions continue to reach new fans for years to come. - Bobby Barrett

GRADE: A+

AFTERWORD: So what's next? After we get through the "Convergence" event (including PRE-New 52 Batman and Robin…curious to see what the difference is), DC will be celebrating Robin's 75th year in a big way as June brings us ROBIN, SON OF BATMAN – the first Robin solo book since 2009, featuring 3/4 of our fabulous BATMAN AND ROBIN team; as well as WE ARE ROBIN – a more unconventional effort starring Duke Thomas (from the pages of BATMAN), and written by longtime FOBOF Lee Bermejo! The latter series expands on an idea that's been true for a few decades now: Bruce Wayne may be the one true Batman, but "Robin" is a concept that applies to many different characters from many different walks of life. BOF will continue bringing the coverage and letting you know which of these books are worth shelling out for. See you in June!

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.


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