Batman & Robin #18 – Arthur’s Pick of the Week

Batman gets picked twice this week. After what he’s been through I think that’s ok… SPOILERS

Firstly, we should address the matter of Batman Inc issue 8. I don’t normally read Batman Inc, but unless you were taking a break from the internet in the week before its release you probably won’t have been spared the news of Damian Wayne’s fate (spoiled by DC themselves before the book was on sale). I picked up issue 8 knowing what happened inside, only because of what happened inside. I’m not a fan of Grant Morrison in general, despite the almost universally accepted knowledge that he’s the greatest thing to happen to comics since Alan Moore. I read Batman Inc #8. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I completely get that if a character is going to meet his end it’s only fitting that his creator should be the one who gets to write that scene. I will miss Damian, assuming he doesn’t return after six months, and really enjoyed his adventures and his tenure as Robin. He was an excellent foil for Dick Grayson’s Batman, and his growing relationship with Bruce has been a joy to watch, mainly thanks to Peter Tomasi’s writing within the pages of Batman & Robin.

And it’s this month’s Batman & Robin that has earned the pick of the week slot for me. An entirely silent issue showing Bruce dealing with his loss the only way he knows how. It’s powerful and emotive, and shows the creative team are completely in sync. They deliver a perfectly judged illustration of raw grief throughout the issue, and if the final page doesn’t bring a tear to your eye you probably don’t have a soul.

And if we pick Batman and Robin we can’t not include Batman #18 this week, as we see Batman’s grief and self-destructive actions through the eyes of obvious Robin-in-waiting Harper Row. She’s witnessing from afar that Batman is acting differently and instinctively know the core reason behind his changes. She recognises personal loss.

Saving his life (again) and demonstrating that she’s been training in order to help him out don’t bring out warm feelings in Batman, who breaks her nose as he physically and mentally pushes her away, fearing another death that would be his responsibility. It makes sense from both perspectives, and it’s good to see Harper doesn’t back down. A separate visit to Bruce Wayne leads to a final panel that both pays tribute to Damian and potentially foreshadows Harper’s upcoming role. It’s a brilliant touch, and proves once again why Batman might be the best book in DC’s New 52.


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