BATMAN AND AQUAMAN #29
Author: Bobby Barrett
March 23, 2014
SYNOPSIS: Batman is ready to settle the score with Raís al Ghul, who stole Robinís body out of the grave! As the Dark Knight travels to the island where Damian was born, heís set on a collision course with Aquaman!
Holy shnikes, things are getting real in this book!
The Dark Knight's search for his son's remains takes center stage as "The Hunt For Robin" begins, and much in the tradition set by their last arc, Peter Tomasi and co. waste no time at all bringing us the thrills and chills (and even some spills)! Issue #29 opens with some quick exposition through dialogue between Batman and Alfred as the Bat Sub makes its way toward Ra's al Ghul's island base before getting seriously creepy before page 1 is even finished. And it doesn't stop there.
Ra's al Ghul has kept his daughter's work and is taking dastardly steps to keep it going, while making no bones (pun intended) about his plans to resurrect both Talia and Damian, both of whose corpses make prominent appearances here. Of course, this desecration of their remains infuriates Bruce Wayne to no end, as he and Aquaman battle through hordes of assassins, Ninja Man-Bats, and a few additional grotesque surprises that I won't spoil for you here. While we get a decent look at The Demon's plot and what the assets at his disposal, readers (and Batman) are left just one step behind Ra's in discovering the extent of his contingency plans.
This one is definitely a page-turner, a comic book for the ages that will find you holding your breath as you frantically flip pages toward its conclusion. Writer Tomasi displays a genuine talent for using narrative carefully during epic action scenes to drive the story forward, while making sure not to take away from the cinematic brutality displayed on the page. Patrick Gleason is in top form here delivering said brutality--the artist seems to feel most at home with the dark and morbid elements in stories like this. And boy, is there plenty for him to work with! This issue is filled pretty much from front to back with dead things, and there is a careful dementedness in the way it's all laid out. You can tell Gleason especially had fun with the nemeses Batman faces toward the end of the book, and there's one particular panel involving a bird on one of the last pages that is sure to give the faint of heart a good shudder.
There's not much way around it, something big is getting ready to happen in this book, and the creative team have no intention of giving us a slow burning fire when they can just throw gasoline on it and let it roar. Those who followed BATMAN, INCORPORATED will be delighted to see so many plot threads from that series picked up here, and those who didn't are given just enough exposition to go with it. We're back to rotating co-headliners on this arc, but unlike before, when the rotating sidekicks gave the series a little too much of an episodic feel, there is a clear direction here, and the inclusion of Aquaman this month turned out as organic as could be. In fact, his presence in issue #29 is directly tied to what Ra's has been up to, and it's easy to understand why the Atlantean takes a personal stake in this mission. If "The Hunt For Robin" keeps up this quality, we will easily have another masterpiece on our hands. - Bobby Barrett