Overview

Batman & Robin #12

Review

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Batman & Robin #12

Credits

  • Words: Grant Morrison
  • Art: Andy Clarke/Dustin Nguyen
  • Inks: Scott Hanna
  • Colors: Alex Sinclair
  • Story Title: Mexican Train
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: May 5, 2010

Fans of Grant Morrison and his work on Batman will not be disappointed by this final installment in the "Batman vs. Robin" story arc and as the prelude to next week's Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne.  May promises to be just the beginning for Morrisonophiles everywhere as the new, four-issue bimonthly is joined in June with the author's return to the regular Batman series.  Three Morrison Batman books in one month?  This is a great time to be a comic reader indeed!

This is a difficult story to review without spoilers, so readers are warned not to flip through the issue before reading it (avoid the last page!).  Of the three-issue arc, this is perhaps the strongest chapter, as Morrison weaves together a complex tapestry of various strands from the current series and connects them with strings spun over two years ago during the "Batman RIP" arc.  Batman subdues a mind-controlled Robin driven by his arch-nemesis Deathstroke, Robin confronts Talia's mission and intentions, Alfred's own detective and analytical skills are allowed to shine, and together all three join forces not as mentor and student, master and servant, hero and sidekick, but as equals with a common purpose to unravel the mysterious patterns involving the Black Glove and locate Bruce Wayne. 

One of the best scenes of the book is not the reveal of Oberon Sexton's identity at the end, but rather Dick Grayson strolling into Talia's stronghold, dispatching assassin after assassin, visiting a bed-ridden Slade Wilson, and knocking him unconscious with his own IV stand.  In Morrison's hands, we see a truly mature Grayson blending both the hard-as-nails Bruce-as-Batman persona along with his own humanity, which forced him to strike out as Nightwing so many years ago.  And paralleling Grayson's journey is Damian's, as he finally grows into the red, green, and yellow while still making it distinctively his own. 

Morrison is rarely credited with his strengths as a mystery writer, but here he displays it admirably in both the pacing and the delivery.  Perhaps truly a meta-textual comic experience, part of the enjoyment is going back to previous issues as a detective and trying to piece together the patterns and clues while wading through the disinformation.  Obviously, Morrison is keeping the trump cards close to his chest, but the intrigue in that reveal is firmly established in this issue.  He is aided in the process by the stellar artwork of Andy Clarke who possesses a Quitely-esque rawness in his style, especially in his design of Deathstroke.  It wasn't until a second read through that I discovered that multiple artists were involved, and while the second-to-the last page image of Batman stands in contrast to earlier depictions, the transitions between panels and pages is seamless and smooth. 

Morrison has brought the new Batman and Robin to the forefront with this issue. Hopefully, even with Bruce's return, fans will not lose out on future stories of this dynamic duo. 

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