Okay, good, this is what I was waiting for. After a couple of lackluster issues and some overly drawn out exposition, writer Peter Tomasi has finally gotten Batman and Robin back on track. Issue #7 is the one we wanted to read, the one where Batman and Morgan Ducard beat the holy hell out of each other. This is also where father and son find out what they’re really made of.
Ducard has pushed Batman too far. After discovering that Damien Wayne aka Robin has been lying about their alliance in order to stop Ducard’s killing spree, Ducard snaps. In a decidedly bad move, Morgan Ducard figures to torture Robin and let Batman listen. This sits poorly with the Dark Knight, who comes at Ducard with a vengeance. From that point on, Batman and Robin #7 becomes the brawl to settle it all.
Two men, both trained to perfection, locked in a fight that means life and death. Tomasi writes this issue filled with dramatic and physical tension. You can feel the hatred between the men and, for the first time, you feel the love Batman has for his son. Like the earlier issue, Batman and Robin #7 is powerful stuff because it focuses on the here and now. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why Tomasi weighed down this story arc with his lengthy backstory about Bruce and Morgan’s history. I’m not saying the history didn’t need to be told, but not for two issues.
Is everything perfect here? No. There are two major plot points that I have trouble with. First is the clichéd final scene between Morgan Ducard and Batman. It wasn’t hard to figure that Batman would come close to killing Ducard before stopping himself; I have no problem with that. Where my cliché meter goes off the charts is the look between Damien and Bruce that makes Bruce stop. Really? The old “wait, what lesson would I be teaching my son” routine? Seems a bit pat for the Dark Knight.
My other issue comes with the very end, where Tomasi tries to set us up for a “shocking” cliffhanger where Robin kills Ducard. Problem is, the way Robin “kills” him has been foreshadowed to death in previous issues as a trust thing between Robin and his father, so it’s easy to guess where this will end up. It may not, which I think would be amazing, but I don’t see DC championing a child killer. These are two small points but I felt I needed to bring them up.
Patrick Gleason’s art is, as always, stellar. This issue is a symphony of violence that never stops moving forward. Panel to panel, the action is incredible and the intensity of the battle keeps growing. There’s an early splash page, where Batman has just entered Ducard’s lair that is stunning. It could be one of the best shots of the Dark Knight this year. Gleason makes every single scene count and by the end, you’re as worn out as the participants. While many of the New 52 series have found themselves faltering with issue 7, Batman and Robin #7 has given the series a new lease to continue kicking ass.
(4 Story, 5 Art)