BATMAN AND... #32
Author: Bobby Barrett (Follow @BATBOBBY)
June 19, 2014
SYNOPSIS: “The Hunt for Robin” concludes! Batman has caught up to Ra’s al Ghul, and the battle for the bodies of Talia and Damian begins!
One thing about the revolving door of BATMAN AND… co-stars since Robin's demise is that, while it can be a fun concept (almost a throwback to the days of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD in the '70s), the sense of story can become very "stop-and-go" to allow for the shift in cast - which can be counterproductive to a book like this, which has proven time and again to find its strength in epic multi-part stories. Luckily, this month's BATMAN AND RA'S AL GHUL #32 proves to be a direct continuation of last month's BATMAN AND FRANKENSTEIN issue, with all the major players returning (even Titus!) remaining and ready to wage an epic battle for the soul of young Damian Wayne.
Knowing full well that this final chapter of "The Hunt For Robin" leads directly into next month's "Robin Rises" event, I was worried that its conclusion would feel unsatisfying and more like setup for what comes next. This fear certainly manifested itself in the early dialogue pages between The Dark Knight and The Demon's Head, but was quickly squashed as the all-out gritty action commenced. While this issue by no means concludes the quest for Damian's body, it does do a fine job wrapping up this part of the story. By the end of the last page, it is clear that the "Batman chasing Ra's around the world" portion of this book is finished.
Speaking of Batman and Ra's, though, this issue succeeds in spades on delivering a classic clashing of those two titans. Like all of the great Ra's stories, there is a moral debate at the center of it all - with Bruce Wayne firmly planting himself on the opposing end of the Demon's intentions. And while their dialogue is certainly fierce, nothing is held back once the first blows are exchanged. Gone are the elegant sword fights between opposing idealists - replaced with no-holds-barred savagery with carnage to boot, as Batman and Frankenstein lead a pack of yeti (yes, yeti) against Ra's al Ghul and his Man-Bat assassins.
Everyone here is in top form. The book's art team, having taken the previous issue off, is back with a vengeance: you can see that the pencils and inks team of Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray were not simply taking a breather, but rather taking the time to give this conclusion the intensity it deserves - and it shows. Even in the first few pages, as Batman and Ra's exchange intentions and threats, you can feel The Dark Knight poise for attack. The rich shadows that contour his cape and cowl envelop him continuously further yet give the impression of a wild animal preparing for attack. Gleason is right at home with the bizarre, and this issue's strange supporting cast doesn't feel out of place at all. John Kalisz haunts the confrontation with an eery green Lazarus Pit glow, giving just the right sense of unease.
Writer Peter Tomasi is certainly up to something, allegedly it's been building up since the debut of this series. He's spent years getting into the heart of Bruce Wayne, then tearing it apart. The coming months will show what resolve that heart is truly capable of. - Bobby Barrett