Peter J. Tomasi once again does a brilliant job driving home the emotion. Batman screaming about how he wants to watch his son grow up felt like a punch right to the gut. After all he's been through in these past issues, seeing him lash out and be in such a vulnerable state really pulled at my heartstrings. Not nearly as much as the silent issue, of course, but it still delivered some pretty heavy feels with that dialogue. As a Jason Todd fan, I'm happy to say I think both characters were given proper credit.
It's important to note this issue does indeed take place before RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #19, so it's a critical read when it comes to Jason Todd's major decision. Does Tomasi properly justify such a drastic move? It's certainly a topic that's up for debate, but I think he succeeds for the most the part. After such a strong bonding experience in RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #18 and rather touching remarks from Bruce about family in this one, I can understand why Todd feels betrayed. After enduring such a rocky history, he finally feels like a part of the family again and to take on the bad guys by Bruce's side (without the rest of the members, of course) must have been a truly touching moment for Todd. But then to have that entire moment shattered by realizing it was all a ploy to see if he can get Damian back? Talk about feeling stabbed in the back and heartbroken. Is it selfish for Todd not to reflect on those memories to help the man who has given him everything? Absolutely. But given the circumstances and who he is, I can understand his negative reaction. The New 52 has quite literally tainted every bit of Jason Todd's history and after an incident like this, I can somewhat comprehend why Todd was willing to make such a rash decision.
I adore Patrick Gleason's work. It has without question become the signature feel of the title, so when we cut to another artist (Cliff Richards), it is absolutely a noticeable transition. Thankfully, his style isn't drastically different and it's only for two action sequences. The first has some hit or miss panels, but the clash between Bruce and Todd looks great and really drives home the raw emotion behind the moment.
I'm really mixed on Carrie Kelley's role. I know she's being used as a device to further discuss Damian and a part of him we never saw, but at the same rate, I feel like it somewhat takes away from the book's pacing. When it comes to the aftermath of Damian's demise, I'm far more interested to see how it's impacting the immediate members of the Bat-family and how they're interacting with Bruce. I don't hate the character or anything, but I'd much rather see the time being dedicated to these "team-ups." It is what it is, though, and she's clearly here to stay. I just pray she won't become Robin any time soon. After such a devastating loss, there should be no rush to fill Robin's shoes. None whatsoever.
When Batman and Red Hood bust out of a vehicle and take on a group of mercenaries, it should be a panel that oozes badassery. Instead, I'm left gazing at a mark on Red Hood's mask that makes it look like he's frowning. Could this be a spot a colorist missed? Is it supposed to be an item in front of his face? I honestly can't tell and it really took away from what could have been a super cool segment. Additionally, the detail fluctuates a bit during their fight with the snipers. Close ups look good, but once we pan away a bit a fair amount of detail is sacrificed.
While I do appreciate Gleason's work, it made the final scene a bit confusing. Is that Jason with Two-Face, and if so, would this fight really make him want to die? I understand he's down in the dumps, but that seems a bit drastic. Or, is it Bruce and what just happened with Todd took too much of a toll on him? Is the weight of two Robins dying too much and he wanted to end it all? We know he almost accepted death before he became Batman (Year One), but that was ages ago and at this point, it would be too tough to stomach Wayne considering the option. Or, is this an entirely different person and they're bringing Two-Face in for a new plot? I honestly can't tell because I simply cannot recognize who's face it is. Or is it just the other side of Two-Face?
Tomasi and Gleason continue to prove why I love this title. Filled with emotion and a unique look, this series is handling the tragic events over in BATMAN, INCORPORATED exceptionally well. Despite me being mostly uninterested in Kelley, it's obvious she's going to be a factor in this book for at least the near future. I just hope this opportunity is used to illustrate more memories of Damian and a part of his life we never knew about instead of citing famous quotes and having her fill the void he's left. Regardless, I'm optimistic about Tomasi's plans for this title and this is yet another excellent chapter.