BATMAN AND ROBIN: Zombies gotta eat, too !

 After spending so much time with the recent slew of AVENGERS VERSUS X-MEN books, I decided to keep my distance from the “Death Of The Family” saga currently unfolding in the Batman-related titles. However, the buzz about these Joker-infused books has me curious, especially after learning that the short print runs of BATWOMAN #13 and CATWOMAN #13 both sold out quickly. They are now scheduled for a second printing and copies (which cross-over into the Joker story) have been reported to be selling on E-Bay for $20 per copy. I’m still planning to wait for the trade paperbacks after everything wraps up. But I can’t resist just dipping my toe in the water a little. So, remembering what Pete Tomasi said about Issues #13-14 of BATMAN AND ROBIN being a soft tie-in to the Joker saga rather than a hard cross-over, I decided to pick them up. Glad I did. This is a great little two-part story.

batman-and-robin-new-52-13-cover                                   Batman_and_Robin_Vol_2-14_Cover-1_Teaser

BATMAN AND ROBIN #13 (December 2012) Peter J. Tomasi – writer. Patrick Gleason – penciller pages 1-15. Tomas Giorello – artist pages 16-20. Mick Gray – inker pages 1-15. John Kalisz – colorist. Carlos M. Mangual – letterer.

The covers to both of these issues will immediately catch your eye. My favorite of the two is the cover to this issue, with its great balance of red and black. Very appropriate for a zombie tale. Gleason’s art picks right up on the opening pages. I love his credits page showing Bruce standing in a doorway and looking in on a sleeping Damian, with the light in the hall behind Bruce casting an elongated Bat-shadow into the room. His facial expressions throughout the issue also help with the story-telling - - a lot of grim looks of determination as well as restraint and patience from both parties.

You can sense the continuing maturation of Robin/Damian as he observes and learns “perspective” from Batman/Bruce during a total solar eclipse. However, that doesn’t keep him from ignoring his father’s wishes, as when he sets off alone to investigate the empty graves and abductions occurring in Gotham. (In a neat little subplot, Damian handles the first of the soon to be many bounty hunters looking to collect the huge reward placed on his head by his mother). And, he does lose his cool just a little when confronted by an overwhelming mob of cannibalistic former townsfolk.

The artist change midway through the book isn’t too harsh by comparison and the transition is relatively smooth, but not seamless (because I could spot it). Giorelli’s got a similar style, with a little touch of Wrightson. There is more difference between his muted colors and lighter lines as compared to the work of the inks and colors behind Gleason’s work.

BATMAN AND ROBIN #14 (January 2013) Peter J. Tomasi – writer. Patrick Gleason and Thomas Giorello – pencillers. Mick Gray – inker. John Kalisz – colorist. Carlos M. Mangual – letterer.

Is the recent mindless mob mentality (“eat to live”) caused by The Joker, or is it due to some other cause? That’s what Robin attempts to find out as he allows himself to be captured in the hopes of getting to the source. What he learns may be more of the dark mind-control influence of a dark cult rather than a practical Joke. Or is it? (I certainly can’t reveal without spoiling this for you.) As far as a Batman worried about the safety of his son is concerned, “it’s a bad time to play the truculent little boy”. What starts out as another classic father-son confrontation at the conclusion of this story turns into a very tender moment that hints at the progress being made on both sides. Really, what ten-year old doesn’t think they know more than their father?

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