Author: Bobby Barrett
May 8, 2013

SYNOPSIS: The massive fallout from the recent events in BATMAN, INCORPORATED take Batman to the very limits of his sanity…will The Red Hood pull him back -- or push him over the edge?

While Bruce Wayne may be taking the loss of his son like a champ in the pages of BATMAN this month, BATMAN AND ROBIN has a different story to tell.

Actually, this month it's BATMAN AND RED HOOD – and anyone familiar with Jason Todd's history can tell you he's had a chip on his shoulder well before he ever put on a yellow cape. It stayed with him through a brief, turbulent career as Robin, and followed him to the grave and back again as he began exacting lethal vengeance on criminals as the new Red Hood. This background makes this month's co-headliner the obvious candidate to appear alongside The Dark Knight in this month's theme: "Rage".

Picking up from where we left off last month, Bruce is concentrating heavily in the Batcave, monitoring a mercenary camp on Ethiopia, when he gets an unexpected visit from Carrie Kelley. This visit proves quite informative on this newly presented character and sheds some light on what her dealings with Damian Wayne were all about. She expresses concern that Damian appears to have "dropped off the face of the planet", and Bruce gives her a cheap excuse as to his son's whereabouts and dismisses her. Before leaving, Carrie makes a connection with Titus, Damian's Great Dane, which warms Alfred visibly and leads to him offering Ms. Kelley a job opportunity.

Meanwhile, Jason is ready to get back into action after being put out of commission by The Joker (in the "Death of the Family" aftermath – see RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #17-18), and Bruce requests his aid on a mission across the world. In a flash, the pair are suited up, armed, and ready to storm a criminal compound in Ethiopia. This group has been specifically targeted by Batman because of actions they had previously taken in Gotham City, pertaining to Damian. Meticulously planned, the thugs don't stand a chance against the fury of an emotionally raw Dark Knight and his former sidekick. 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.


The mission isn't over yet, however. Once justice has been served, Batman shows Red Hood the true reason for choosing to bring him here, much to Jason's shock and disgust. What follows is an emotionally charged brawl between family, where both sides have felt betrayal in the deepest sense and are fully ready to unleash their pain on the other. No resolution is in sight for our heroes on this night, but readers are treated to a glimpse at an "A" list Bat-rogue who appears to be gearing up for a comeback – maybe in the next issue...

There are some very strong Bruce/Jason moments here, easily among the best since the re-launch. Jason's tragic history is put under the microscope as his former mentor attempts to find any way to use Jason's circumstances to help bring back Damian and is met with Jason's fury for wanting him to relive the most traumatic moments of his life. At the end of it all, this team-up is everything that the Red Robin "team-up" last month should have been: Something that explored and acknowledged the time these two spent fighting the good fight together with some reflection on how and why that came to an end, and how they view one other today.

The Bruce Wayne of these last two issues is immersed in his own grief, having little or no consideration for anyone else. He's not very likable, and while that is a contrast to the other titles he is currently starring in, I do have faith that Peter Tomasi has a specific goal in mind for the end of this grieving period. It goes without saying that the BATMAN AND ROBIN title should be affected the most by the death of The Boy Wonder, so as long as this winds up going somewhere and Batman's mental state lightens up a little by the end of this arc, I can handle a Darker Knight in this book for now.

The art in this title deserves some recognition: Patrick Gleason has been consistently knocking it out of the park issue after issue, and he works all of his magic here on issue #20. Character designs are distinct, facial expressions flawless, armor and vehicles look utterly BAD ASS, fight scenes are brutal and energetic, colors are vibrant, and the artist is sure not to repeat himself with backgrounds and scenery. Ever since it launched, BATMAN AND ROBIN has been a gorgeous book to look at, and the visuals are only getting stronger. Here's hoping this creative team still has a long way to go on the title.

All in all, "Rage" was a solid entry in what will hopefully be a powerful and memorable story arc for this title when all is said and done. Next month, Batgirl co-stars in "The Bargain." - 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.

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