***I know a lot of you are wondering if it really is Bruce under the cowl and I'll tell you right now that I'm not going to reveal that in the review. And, if you do chat about it in the comments below, please make proper use of the spoiler tags!***
I'm part of the crowd that was blown away by writer Peter Tomasi's first BATMAN AND ROBIN story. The arc with Nobody was brilliant, emotional and brutal. Since then, the quality has never quite reached that level, but despite that, I've been proudly picking up each issue in hopes it would surprise me. Well, this is the issue I've been waiting for. Damian is forced to face what appears to be his brainwashed father and the end result is a stunning issue. It plays off of Damian's complex relationship with Bruce and is complimented incredibly well by Pat Gleason's pencils.
First, I have to praise Gleason's work here. It's dark, gruesome and amazingly detailed. There are so many subtle things in each panel that'll manage to gross you out and amaze you at the same time. It's exceptional work. There's a very extensive fight sequence here and it's a blast to watch because of his unique style. There's one great moment where motion blur is used to convey Damian landing a volley of strikes and, for a lack of better words, it packs one hell of a punch.
What makes this chapter so excellent as well is how it plays off of the difficult father/son relationship the two have. It's the heart and soul of the title and put to full use in this issue. After all, Damian can't talk what appears to be his father out of this encounter, so it's now be or be killed. Eventually, he reaches quite a powerful decision that's sure to shock or move some of you.
I'm happy to say I have zero major complaints about this issue.
This is without question the best issue of BATMAN AND ROBIN since the fantastic Nobody arc. Both the script and artwork are top-notch. The final product is a brilliantly entertaining issue that provides great popcorn entertainment and a deeper look into Damian's feelings towards his father. Now we're left speculating over the twist taking place in each 'Death of the Family' issue!