Monday, 1 August 2016

Batman and Robin, Volume 7: Robin Rises Review (Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason)

Batman’s unrelenting search to find a way to somehow bring his son back from the dead has led to Damian’s corpse being stolen by a succession of supervillains for an unknown purpose. All roads lead to Apokolips as Batman, in the Hellbat suit, and joined by Jason, Tim, Babs, Titus and Cyborg, launch a daring rescue to save Damian from under the nose of Darkseid and his demented son Kalibak in Robin Rises! 

Given the low quality of the last two books, I wasn’t expecting much for the finale to this uneven Batman & Robin series but WOW - credit where it’s due: Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason finish really strongly with Robin Rises. This comic was superb! 

The first half of the book is the Apokolips rescue and I can’t fault any part of it: it was brilliant. Absolutely thrilling to read with Batman in his Iron Man-esque Hellbat suit kicking parademon butt, while his Robin support - Jason, Tim, Babs and Titus - held their own. Also, giant robot dinosaurs. Yup! 

The showdown between Batman and Darkseid was awesome, the final battle against Kalibak was great (which was guest-drawn by Andy Kubert) and Damian’s resurrection was pure superhero-comics-logic-silliness at its best. Also, Bat-Cow moos at Kalibak. If there’s one thing we need more of in Batman, it’s Bat-Cow. 

I don’t want to give away what happens in the second half of the story or how the series concludes but it’s very unexpected. Tomasi and Gleason run with a potentially bad idea and turn it into a fantastic, hugely enjoyable final adventure. 

This extra-long volume closes out with the annual where Batman and Robin battle moon parasites that are planning to invade Earth. It’s a fun standalone story and I always enjoy Juan Jose Ryp’s artwork. There’s also a short piece drawn by Ian Bertram which is a prologue to Grant Morrison’s Batman & Robin run where Dick and Damian were briefly the Dynamic Duo. I think these two stories got thrown in because it’s Tomasi’s final Batman & Robin volume and there’s nowhere else to put them. They’re fine extras at any rate. 

I loved Patrick Gleason’s art - he killed it with the Apokolips rescue but my favourite pages were Damian’s nightmare sequences and some of the scenes in the second half where he gets to draw Damian doing… unusual things! 

Tomasi manages to bring Damian back to the DCU despite Grant Morrison killing him off and he does a fantastic job of it too. I had initially wanted Damian to stay dead for a few years at least to give Morrison’s Batman run more impact but Tomasi and Gleason sold me on Damian’s return with this excellent book. He also manages to resolve the outcome of Scott Snyder’s Death of the Family arc as the Bat-family unite against Darkseid’s forces to save one of their own. Hats off to Tomasi for concluding both so convincingly! 

Robin Rises is an unexpectedly amazing end to this uneven - but mostly good - Batman and Robin series. It’s definitely one of the most gripping Batman stories I’ve read this year and enormous fun to boot. The last two volumes are heavy-going build-up but the payoff is worth it. Batman & Robin fans everywhere will LOVE this one - highly recommended! 


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