Batman & Robin #13 - The jakob187 Review
Two things ran through my mind for the month and a half that it took for Batman & Robin #13 to finally grace the shelves: how crazy are things about to get, and is Frazier Irving's artwork going to kill the next three issues for me? To answer those: things get pretty crazy indeed, and Irving's artwork actually works for this issue in a way that (surprisingly) I don't think any other artist could've done justice in nearly the same tone.
Now that the cat is out of the bag, issue #13 sees the return of the Joker, who tries to convince Dick and Damian that he is trying to help stop the madness that is about to ensue rather than cause it. Over the course of the issue, we see the Joker only intermittently as Dick gets down to some nitty-gritty detective work. It's good to see Dick really showing off his capabilities, and in all honesty, he felt more natural as Batman in this issue than any previous issues of this or the core series. For a second, it almost sounded like Bruce.
And THAT is where this issue really captured me: the fact that everyone seems to know that this Batman is not the same as the last Batman. Joker offers a bit of exposition early in the issue where he states that he needs to help so he can get HIS Batman back. He goes on to say that without HIS Batman, he can't do anything right...that he's not a "Clown Prince" or anything. Jim Gordon goes on about mid-way in the issue after some dialogue IN THE BATMOBILE on the way TO THE BAT BUNKER about how this Batman doesn't sound like the old Batman...and even goes so far as to say that the police officers PREFER this Batman.
The one odd thing is that Joker makes some very specific references to Batman and Robin suggesting that he knows their identities. If this is true, then it makes the story all that more intriguing. The way that this tone mixes with Morrison's writing and Irving's artwork is a great meld, even if Irving's Joker leaves something to be desired (where's the bullet hole?!) and his proportions aren't always good eye-candy. However, the general lighting and feeling of Irving's art gives this an almost macabre and noir tone that fits well with the story. Morrison's writing is some of his best on the series, especially with the way he offers back-and-forth dialogue between all the characters. A few small things seem to come up abruptly and then get dropped, but as it is with anything that Morrison writes, those things will surely play out in later issues.
The beginning of the issue itself starts with a small piece about Doctor Hurt, specifically playing it out that Hurt is actually Thomas Wayne (much like we heard and saw in R.I.P. but turned out to be a lie...I think...Morrison isn't very clear). The sequence feels dream-like in a way, but also seems to be telling of the future for Dick Grayson, which needless to say, that future ain't so bright.
Overall, this issue was well worth the wait for its release. If you are feeling sketchy about picking it up, I would tell you it's a must-read for any R.I.P. fans as well as those interested in Bruce's return.