BATMAN AND ROBIN #19 Author: Bobby Barrett
March 13, 2013
SYNOPSIS: On the darkest of nights, who is the one person Batman meets that could change his life forever?
DC succeeded in getting a "WTF!" moment from me this April. Many guesses were thrown around the internet about who would appear next to The Dark Knight on the fully revealed Batman and Red Robin #19 cover, but I don't think many suspected it would be Carrie Kelley. After revealing the cover days before the book's release, the mystery boiled up as to why this character would be crossing over from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns into the mainstream Batman continuity, and what her ultimate purpose would be.
The end result in issue #19 of the title (for now) formerly known as Batman and Robin, is sadly less satisfying than one would hope. Billed as the opening chapter of an epic five-parter dealing with the five stages of grief as Bruce Wayne goes through them- -- as well as boasting Red Robin as the co-headliner for this issue -- "Denial" doesn't quite live up to its potential in a few different ways.
Firstly, the "Batman and Red Robin" title is a joke. Tim Drake appearances in the New 52 Bat-books are a rarity, so fans of that character definitely look forward to any time he is set to appear. In this case, however, Tim gets more or less the least amount of "page time" -- writer Peter Tomasi really only brings him in as the means to an end, pulling Batman out of an ugly situation before it gets worse. Anyone hoping for a Batman and Red Robin team-up is going to be let down here.
Carrie Kelley's introduction proves to be just the tip of the iceberg for the heroine on this title. Not much more is revealed aside from the fact that she exists and previously had some kind of working relationship with Damian Wayne. Oh, and she's not aware that he died. (Apparently the death of Bruce Wayne's son is not yet public knowledge? Hopefully this will be addressed in either this title or Batman Incorporated in the near future.) Whatever Carrie's purpose here is, it looks like it's going to be a little while until we find out.
BATMAN AND ROBIN #19 Cover
As far as the "Denial" story goes, Bruce is being a withdrawn prick to everyone around him (something I don't miss from pre-2006 Batman stories), and embarks on a mad man's mission to resurrect his son. I do have to credit Tomasi for finding a way to address this possibility without any mention of Lazarus Pits (it looks like Batman Inc. will be handling that subject), which involves Batman tracking down a character for assistance that I never expected to appear in this book. Though I have great appreciation for this surprise character, it seemed rather forced for him to show up here -- having little to no mention in the Batman family of comics before this issue. I understand that DC Comics are supposed to share a universe, but you'd think they'd do something to brace readers who only read Batman titles (or at least don't read Justice League Dark) for this out-of-left-field appearance. I guess if there was really a "WTF" moment within the issue for me, that was it.
Pat Gleason's art stuns as usual, he definitely makes the most of the odd circumstances he's given. All characters look sharp, Carrie Kelley looks like someone cool you might meet in college. The action is big, the facial expressions effective.
All in all, Batman and Red Robin #19 wasn't a terrible read, but it failed to reach the heights this series has proven to be capable of. At a time when more reader attention is likely on this book than ever (thanks to recent events), this story just fell short of its potential. Crossing my fingers that the next chapters raise the bar back up to where it should be. Join us next month for "Batman and Red Hood in: Anger!" - Bobby Barrett