Batman and Robin (vol.2) #19 (June, 2013)
Writer – Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller – Patrick Gleason
Inker – Mick Gray
Colorist – John Kalisz
Letterer – Carlos M. Mangual
Assistant Editor – Darren Shan
Editor – Rachel Gluckstern
Group Editor – Michael Marts
Cover Price: $2.99
Welcome to 2013… the year where I think I was just barely collecting DC Comics. I still wasn’t quite over my post-Flashpoint temper-tantrum… and didn’t see anything on the horizon that was going to change that. A couple of weeks back, when I “ran the numbers”, I was pretty surprised to see that up to this point, I’ve only covered one book with a 2013 cover-date. It’s funny how patterns emerge when you’re not paying attention!
Anyhoo… the book we’re going to talk about today is notable for a couple of reasons… first, it’s “WTF-Certified”.
Now, what in the world does that mean? Well… all of the books released in April, 2013 (cover-dated June) had gatefold covers revealing something very “WTF” (which is said to stand for, “What the Fifty-Two”, nice try, Dan…). Cooler/smarter heads eventually prevailed, and the branding didn’t make it to print. (Un)Fortunately, the Internet never allows us to forget…
The other reason this book is notable is for what the gatefold reveals…
Yup, Carrie Kelley from Dark Knight Returns finally makes her debut in the mainstream DCU.
So, let’s take a look at her grand debut… prepare to be, whelmed.
We open with Squirrel Girl enjoying a slice of pizza while driving through the streets of Gotham… and quoting Shakespeare. Oh… that’s not Squirrel Girl? Well, she’s pretty annoying just the same. At a stoplight, a creep in the next car over… hits on her, because… of course he does. In response she hurls the entire pizza pie at him. She finally arrives at her destination… Wayne Manor.
Turns out that (the recently departed) Damian Wayne had hired her for… maybe tutoring sessions? She leaves a stack of texts and a note saying she’s owed $1,000 for ten sessions.
We jump ahead to later on where Carrie is having a costume party. Bruce Wayne arrives… and knocks on the door. You’re never gonna guess who she’s dressed as… okay, you almost certainly will. Bruce hands over a red envelope before splitting.
Elsewhere, we watch as Frankenstein… does Frankensteiny things… fighting mushy-looking critters mostly. Batman flies overhead and snatches him with the Batwing’s grapple. Alfred has left Batman several messages, all of which have gone unanswered. He decides to give Tim Drake a call to see if he might be able to track Master Bruce down.
We rejoin Batman and Frank at Castle Frankenstein in the Arctic. Batman has nabbed Frankie in hopes that he might… resurrect Damian?! This is weird… both wildly out of character, but also… perfectly in-line with how Batman might respond to such a loss. I’m very conflicted… but really enjoying this. Batman has also brought a few unlucky souls who donated their bodies to science for Frankenstein to… uh, practice with (against his will)? Really gritty stuff here.
Frankenstein is able to fight Batman off for a moment… and good God, is Gleason able to bring this battle to life. It’s really a gorgeous few pages of punchy action. Frankenstein holding Batman aloft by his neck is especially great… really shows the size-difference we’re dealing with here. Frankenstein attempts to talk some sense into Batman… even sharing his own story of having lost a Son. Batman’s not exactly ready to listen, however… and shocks Frankie back into subserviency… subservitude… you know what I’m sayin’.
We join up with Tim Drake, who is about to make his descent toward Castle Frankenstein. This is interspersed with scenes of… stitching… crude surgery. Tim arrives just in time to see… well, this:
Batman explains to Tim what he’s planning… even citing how he’d been dead before… and Superman has too (I guess this was one of months during The New-52! where that stuff was in continuity… seemed to change quite a bit). Red Robin argues… even though he once tried to re-clone Superboy… well, I guess that no longer “happened”. Can’t win ’em all.
The former… er, never-was… er, maybe-was dynamic duo argue a bit more while Frankenstein patiently waits on the operating table. By this point, Frankie’s dome has been carved off, revealing his brain. He, again, attempts to reason with the Dark Knight… citing his own being somewhere between “dead” and “alive” as reason not to pursue resurrecting Damian.
Tim then triggers his Titan-jet to… fire into Castle Frankenstein? That seems like a bit of an overreaction… not to mention, wildly dangerous. Batman gives Tim a death-glare before bugging out… leaving him to (literally) pick up Frankenstein’s pieces.
We wrap up back at Carrie’s place. She and her roommate are playing some fighting game on their WiiStation360… and we learn that the contents of that red envelope Bruce had given her was a check for $10,000.
This was one helluva(n) issue!
Let’s get it out of the way right off the bat (ha!)… Carrie Kelley is annoying. I’ll admit it’s been a long time since I’ve even flipped-through Dark Knight Returns… but I don’t recall her being this irritating. Maybe that’s more me having a problem with “kids today”… but, ho-lee smokes, I did not care for her.
Even her introduction was a bit precious… eating pizza while driving (like a heathen) and… reciting Shakespeare. Is that what “kids today” really act like? If that’s the case, I’m glad I grew up when I did! It’s really more an annoyance than a complaint… I’m sure there are many folks out there who really appreciated the way she was depicted.
Onto another (minor) complaint… the title here was altered to read Batman and Red Robin… even in the indicia (!!!). Yet, I feel like Red Robin barely played a part here. I mean, this is no different from a normal guest-spot. I guess I just expected more to go along with the one-off title-change.
Onto the “meat” of the issue… Batman is dealing with his loss in very peculiar ways. He goes to, of all people, Frankenstein in hopes that he might be able to resurrect his Son. Now, although these scenes were pretty amazing… I gotta ask… isn’t Damian’s Grandfather Ra’s al Ghul? Like, the dude with the Lazarus Pits? Is that still a thing? Seems like that might be my first stop if I were a Batman looking to resurrect a Robin.
Overall… this was an excellent issue, and I had a great time checking it out. Despite my minor quibbles about Carrie Kelley… I gotta say, as a fan of lore and “everything mattering”, I was happy to see her added to the mainstream DCU. They didn’t do a whole heckuva lot with her… but, whattayagonnado? I’d definitely recommend checking this one out… I’m even inspired to (eventually) revisit Damian’s “final” arc, and see how well it aged. This bugger is available digitally.
Channel-52! (remember that?)