Batman and Robin (vol.2) #20 (2013)

Batman and Robin (vol.2) #20 (July, 2013)
Writer – Peter J. Tomasi
Pencillers – Patrick Gleason & Cliff Richards
Inkers – Mick Gray & Mark Irwin
Colorist – John Kalisz
Letterer – Carlos M. Mangual
Assistant Editor – Darren Shan
Editor – Rachel Gluckstern
Group Editor – Mike Marts
Cover Price: $2.99

Had so much fun “meeting” Carrie Kelley yesterday, I decided to check out her next appearance.  Was checking all of my normal “archive-y” haunts to see what sort of splash she made in The New 52!, and was pretty shocked to learn that she only made… three appearances!

Seems strange, right?

Anyhoo… figure while I got ’em in front of me, we might as well have ourselves a Carrie Kelley trilogy!  We’ll wrap her story up tomorrow!

We open in the Batcave with Bruce trying to locate some bad dudes on the Batcomputer… his search is interrupted by the arrival of Carrie Kelley, who simply refuses to leave.  Bruce heads upstairs to see what she wants, and learns that she really misses Damian.  It’s made apparent that she was giving him acting lessons.  I’m not sure if that was made completely clear last issue… or if I was just too dense to see what was on the page.

Bruce informs her that he’d sent Damian overseas to a hoi-poloi boarding school… and tells her she’s been more than compensated for her work, and Damian bugging out without notice.  She ain’t keen on taking money for work she hasn’t done… and tells him she only wanted the $1,000 she was owed.  This fairly contentious banter is interrupted by the arrival of… Titus, Damian’s Great Dane.  Carrie immediately takes a liking to him… and seems to know an awful lot about dogs.  Something tells me she’d know an awful lot about anything that walked into that room.

Bruce grows tired of her sass, and asks Alfred to show her the door… which he does.  Along the way, however, he offers her a job as Titus-handler… dog walker… trainer… feeder… you get the drill.  Anyhoo, this is the last we’ll see of Carrie for this issue.

Later on, Bruce is visited by Jason Todd.  He fills him in on some goings-on in Ethiopia, and asks him to tag along on a mission where he intends to act a bit more ruthless than usual.  Ya see, this gang they’re tracking down was one of the ones hired by Talia to kill Damian.

Time passes, and the pair arrive in Ethiopia… and really raise some hell.  Batman orders Jason to keep his shots aimed only at hands, elbows, and knees… no shooting to kill.  Just shooting to… ya know, really wreck a fool’s life.  Batman even destroys one of the baddies’ hands!  Funny, last time he was acting this ruthlessly was… after Jason Todd was killed!

With their mission accomplished, Bruce leads Jason to a certain area of Ethiopia… the Magdala Valley.  This is the place where Jason was killed by the Joker back during A Death in the Family.  Jason’s pretty ticked off… and I can’t really blame him.  He is being used here.  Bruce is hoping that being at the place where he was killed might stir a few memories on just how he managed to come back!  So, that… ya know, he might apply those to Damian.

By now, Jason is fuming… he starts throwing punches, and Batman replies in kind.  Jason demand Bruce remove his mask so he can watch his face while he pummels him.

Jason continues to whale on Bruce’s face… only stopping, to leave.  He takes the car, leaving Bruce in the middle of the desert.

We wrap up with something of an epilogue… a man flips a coin.  Hmm, wonder who that might be.

This isn’t exactly subtle… but it’s pretty great nonetheless.

Just looking at the titles of these post-Requiem issues, we’re going through the classic Kubler-Ross stages of grief alongside Batman.  Last issue was Denial, this one is Rage (Anger)… the next issue is advertised as “The Bargain”.  Again… not subtle, but pretty great.  A very interesting approach… and, when you have like a half-dozen ongoing Batman books, you have the flexibility to takes risks such as this.

This is the sort of book that illustrates to me just how frustrating The New 52! was.  I mean, the initiative is in our rear-view by this point, and I’m still unsure which bits and pieces of continuity made it through.  Today we get a reference to A Death in the Family… which, as far as “canon” stories go, is as evergreen as any, but my thing is that it is the story that this entire issue is built on.  It really bugged me that “some” of the pre-Flashpoint continuity was allowed to stay… and hell, that’s not even true from issue to issue.

It’s sour grapes, sure, but I just felt like this was DC eating its cake and having it too… which, as a long-time fan, really annoyed me.  If you’re going “tabula rasa”, then… go tabula rasa.  We longtime fans kept getting condescendingly told to “go to our bookshelves” when we complained about losing our continuity… it just didn’t seem right that DC could play fast and loose with it.  Again… my sour grapes.

The bit with Carrie Kelley… hell, the reason we’re reading this today… was, “ehhh”.  She’s still really annoying… I mean, nobody likes a know-it-all, right?  I’d say the only way this could have been redeemed is if they slotted her in as the new Oracle or something.  If I were reading this at the time, and didn’t know better… I’d have bet money that’s exactly where this was headed!

I’m not sure why her “arrival” feels so truncated… I gotta wonder if Dark Knight III was already sorta-kinda in the works at this point.  Perhaps something happens in that story (which I haven’t read yet) that made Miller and company want her pulled from these pages.  I dunno.

The Jason/Bruce fight was really well done.  I’ve said it a bunch, but I’m a sucker for Bat-Family dysfunction.  Hell, I listed Batman #416 as the best comic I’d read in 2016… so this kinda drama is always welcome.  I gotta say, it was nice for Jason of all people to be depicted as the “cooler head”.  Really so well done.

Gotta say, as much as I love Tomasi and Gleason on Superman (vol.4)… their Batman work is just phenomenal!  Beautifully written… beautifully rendered… just an absolute treat.  I would wholeheartedly recommend this to any Bat-fan out there.  I’d say I wish I “discovered” it sooner, but I’m having way too much fun “discovering” it now!


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