One Flew Over The Robin's Nest
If Tomas Giorello's fill-in artwork on the previous arc was the price to pay for Patrick Gleason's full attention on this issue and likely the next, then it was worth it because this issue looks AMAZING. Gleason's consistently amazing at weaving heavy shadows and terrifying darkness, but this issue takes it to a whole other level. The Joker doesn't quite look 'Greg Capullo brilliantly uncanny,' but he does look downright evil and terrifying, still achieving the desired effect. This issue is also chock full of some truly disgusting and disturbing imagery, and Gleason pulls it all off perfectly, making things horrifying without inducing vomiting.
And I have to credit Peter J. Tomasi for coming up with such a truly twisted Joker scheme for Damian. This is one of those great Death of the Family stories that really makes you feel like Joker put a lot of thought into making each attack an intensely personal challenge. While Batgirl was mostly forced to go through the motions he set, Damian followed clues Joker knew he'd be the one to find, and fell right into a trap laid along those lines before being eventually set upon a challenge that perfectly makes him question his role in Batman's life.
There is a good point in the middle where Joker has Robin strung up, forced to listen to The Joker's ramblings about how he differs from the other Robins, and how all of them drag down the effectiveness of 'his' Batman; all the while he trudges him through some beautifully thought out metaphors. Not metaphors on the part of the writer to the readers, but from The Joker to Robin. It's an interesting approach to metaphorical storytelling, where they may appear heavy-handed, but it's because they aren't really meant for us. We're meant to enjoy the story as Robin is forced to look at them to re-examine his own life under the guidance of The Joker.
In Conclusion: 5/5
This has probably been my favorite Death of the Family tie-in thus far, tie-in of course meaning we're excluding the main story because there's no beating that. But this was was dark and creepy and intense and everything I wanted it to be without me expecting the full contents. This is the second time The Joker and Damian have been together mano-a-mano, and Joker's determined to make things go his way yet again. It's a little awkward for new readers, and right in line with Tomasi's over-enthusiasm to fit in with everything else, to make such heavy references to their last encounter, but it does kind of help new readers catch up. Either way, this was one of the best issues of Batman in Robin, and yet it was 100% about Robin, further proof that Robin really needs a solo series instead of this.