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Batman and Robin #14 - Devoured Review

2

Damian is taken by the horde of "zombies" and Batman tries to discover who's really behind the attack on Gotham.

The Good 

There's quite a few cinematic moments that brought some degree of intensity to the issue.  Batman bursting through the windows and pumping the bad guys with tranqs was a great looking scene and I loved the bird's eye view of him firing in all directions.  Robin saving the innocents in the freight elevator was good fun as well and the vividly colored panel of Batman and Robin taking down enemies was certainly an attention catcher.  
 
Artist Patrick Gleason brings a more eccentric and cartoonish look to the comic, but it's what I've come to consider the definitive appearance for the title and it has indeed grown on me a very good deal.  I adored the panels of Batman & Robin back-to-back, as well as the tender moment they shared at the conclusion of the issue.  If this book wants to succeed, it really needs to keep delivering on the father/son dynamic.  After all, that's partially what made the first story arc so superb. 

The Bad  

If we're going to get a 'Death of the Family' tie-in, I don't want it to feel rushed.  But unfortunately, that's exactly how I've felt about this title's stories after the Nobody arc. That first story blew me away and the high it gave me has kept me on-board this whole time, but my interest is sadly beginning to fade.  This is tragic because writer Peter Tomasi does a fantastic job writing both characters and made me really care for Damian, but each story has felt like interesting set up and then no solid follow-through.  

Some would dispute that  Tomas Giorello's darker and more detailed artwork  would be more fitting for this story, but I found the change to be distracting. Also, I wasn't the biggest fan of his facial work for Batman (the Batmobile scene comes to mind). Gleason has the first act, Giorello takes a good majority of the middle, then we're back to Gleason for the conclusion. It's a jarring transition when it does happen.  I'm sure there's a good reason behind the scenes for the switch, but it really detracts from the reading experience.  
 
Also, where'd all of the people in the train go?  There were at least a dozen or so and then they magically vanished when it was time for Batman and Robin to fight off the horde of enemies.   

The Verdict

BATMAN & ROBIN started off strong but has been on a gradual decline ever since. The stories feel rushed and, despite Gleason appealing to the eyes and Tomasi doing fine with dialogue, there's no real payoff. I was pretty torn here between 2 and 3 stars (and if I could give half I'd absolutely make it 2.5), but in the end this really was a lackluster story jammed into 2 issues, so 2 stars felt more appropriate.  There are certainly redeeming qualities to be found, but overall I was disappointed. I'm sticking around because I'm confident in Tomasi's capabilities.  He knocked it out of the park with the first story and there's glimmers of brilliance with the parent/child relationship (especially since he said he basis it off his own interactions with his kid), it's just a matter of hoping he can reach that level once again.  In the meantime though, I'm not happy to say that this is a story you can skip.  Here's hoping the next story's better.
29 Comments
Posted by Dark_Vengeance_

Yeah when comic books change the art halfway through it annoys me too.

Posted by Cavemold

thats too bad the cover looks really good.

Posted by MadeinBangladesh

DAYUM!!!

Edited by ReVamp

Nice. Its unfortunately sad to see this series here, from what it was, but I have hope.

Posted by BatWatch

I agree with your general assessment of the series 100%. I'm a little more merciful to this particular issue because it had pretty good action and that one heart warming scene at the end. Still, it is a long, steep tumble from the Nobody days.

The BatWatch review is up.

Devoured

Posted by k4tzm4n
@ReVamp said:

Nice. Its unfortunately sad to see this series here, from what it was, but I have hope.

I do as well. 
 
@DarkKnightDetective said:

Yeah when comic books change the art halfway through it annoys me too.

Yeah, it was especially off-putting because it happened in the middle of a scene, too. 
 
@BatWatch: Understandable. 
Posted by Booster_Bronze

What this feels like to me is that Tomasi was in the middle of the script for this arc some 5 months ago (or whenever it was written) and then was forced to wrap it up quickly to take part in Snyder's Death of the Family event. The connection to you-know-who seemed totally out of left field and forced.

Posted by k4tzm4n
@Booster_Bronze said:

What this feels like to me is that Tomasi was in the middle of the script for this arc some 5 months ago (or whenever it was written) and then was forced to wrap it up quickly to take part in Snyder's Death of the Family event. The connection to you-know-who seemed totally out of left field and forced.

It was my understanding he had to quickly wrap up the Terminus story to jump on-board 'Death of the Family.'
Posted by Deranged Midget

Yeah, I felt the same regarding this issue and the series so far. It started off fantastically, even the Zero issue was pretty darn good, but 13 left me scratching my head as to where this was heading and this issue particularly had me laughing at how ridiculously bad it was.

Moderator
Edited by SmashBrawler

Yep, this is series is going downhill rapidly... I think I'm going to wait until DOTF is over and then I'm dropping it (unless it gets better, of course).

Online
Posted by Dernman

This issue seemed rough an some thing OOC.

Posted by ccraft

wasnt Terminus cut short for DOTF?

Posted by BlackArmor

This book just never recovered from the dive it took after the first arc :(

Posted by The Stegman

Yeah..this book is like the Titantic (incident, not film) started off great..but now the iceberg has caused serious damaged...I'mma keep reading, but hopefully it improves, fast. 

Posted by Eternal19

very........disappointing. well at least i can start buying detective comics now

Posted by ripjim93

Im sure once Scott Snyder runs out of events it will pick back up and get back to Nobody level stories.

Online
Posted by k4tzm4n

@ccraft said:

wasnt Terminus cut short for DOTF?

Yes, it was.

Posted by longbowhunter

Great review. I agree with everything 100%. The DOTF segue was sloppy at best. I've been a fan of Tomasi and Gleason as a creative team for years but after the Joker stuff I'm jumping off.

Online
Posted by takecontrol

this story felt rushed and pointless, and the art for Robin in the first half was laughable - his face looks insane! sad but i'll stick with it for now, it started off too strong. i did also like the last sequence with the pearl.

Posted by Agent_Prince

I can't understand the disappointment with this issue. Apart from Batman panicking a bit too much for, well, Batman, this was a great issue. Ok, the Joker part was a bit tacked-on, but the end scene was lovely, the dialogue was great, and Damian is a great character. Although there are arguably too many bat books, Batman & Robin is better than Detective Comics.

Edited by MaxSchreck

I don`t understand why this book gets so many bad reviews . Yes , it is annoying that the current story gets cut short because of the crossover , but the art , the writing and the overall quality of this book is so much better than certain other works ( I am looking at you worlds finest !) , I`d give it a 3/5 at least . 2/5 is for comic books that are far worse .

Posted by BatWatch

@Agent_Prince said:

I can't understand the disappointment with this issue. Apart from Batman panicking a bit too much for, well, Batman, this was a great issue. Ok, the Joker part was a bit tacked-on, but the end scene was lovely, the dialogue was great, and Damian is a great character. Although there are arguably too many bat books, Batman & Robin is better than Detective Comics.

Detective Comics is actually good now that Layman has taken over, but I will agree that it was a pile of crap before he took the reigns.

The Joker bit was supposed to be a major plot element, yet it made no sense. The entire plot was just random and nonsense. Can you tell me right now what the deal with the zombies was? What was the agenda with the whole thing?

@MaxSchreck said:

I don`t understand why this book gets so many bad reviews . Yes , it is annoying that the current story gets cut short because of the crossover , but the art , the writing and the overall quality of this book is so much better than certain other works ( I am looking at you worlds finest !) , I`d give it a 3/5 at least . 2/5 is for comic books that are far worse .

Worlds' Finest is complete crap, I agree, and I think Katzman is being a tad harsh, but this was not a good issue. It was okay at best.

Posted by SupBatz

Normally I'd be the first to defend this series...but I can't.

This issue was just plain bad. The art switch was horrible. I don't think the idea of two artists in one book in general but it certainly doesn't help that the new artist just cannot draw Batman or Damian's face right. Its a shame because I really love the original artist. I feel he's the best DC has right now.

Issues 1-9 and 0 were great. The rest have been complete disappointments. Tomasi would've been SO much better off if he had just skipped this whole zombie thing and given the Terminus arc the extra two issues (maybe it wouldn't have SUCKED then).

I'm not going to drop the series just because I love Damian and I really like Tomasi. But I hope he plans out his stories better in the future.

Posted by SmashBrawler

@SmashBrawler said:

Yep, this is series is going downhill rapidly... I think I'm going to wait until DOTF is over and then I'm dropping it (unless it gets better, of course).

...and I've made up my mind. I'm definitely dropping this in favor of Layman's 'Tec.

Online
Posted by MaxSchreck

@BatWatch: Sure , still it deserves a 3/5 when Worlds Finest gets 2/5 in my opinion . Its not fair to give these books the same rating . Its almost an insult towards Tomasis writing and the artists working on Batman and Robin ...

Posted by k4tzm4n

@MaxSchreck said:

@BatWatch: Sure , still it deserves a 3/5 when Worlds Finest gets 2/5 in my opinion . Its not fair to give these books the same rating . Its almost an insult towards Tomasis writing and the artists working on Batman and Robin ...

Bolded and underlined the key part of this entire discussion. Those three beautiful words mean as long as I justify why I'm giving a certain score (which I hopefully did through the span of my review), I have the right to do so. You have every right to disagree, but to think it's an "insult" towards the creative team makes no sense to me. First and foremost, they're adults and aware that the comic community is a very critical crowd. They're producing a subjective product and because of this, will be open to both criticism and praise -- and rightfully so because we're paying for their work as a source of entertainment. The art isn't terrible nor is Tomasi's writing, but when I put down the issue I was far more disappointed than pleased with the issue -- and hopefully, I did an ample job with why in the review. Because of this, a 2 star rating was appropriate for me.

Furthermore, I think if Tomasi and company read the review and not only look at the score, it would be more than evident the I want the title to succeed and do indeed have faith in their capabilities. Unfortunately, this latest story was very lackluster in my opinion.

Posted by BatWatch

@k4tzm4n said:

@MaxSchreck said:

@BatWatch: Sure , still it deserves a 3/5 when Worlds Finest gets 2/5 in my opinion . Its not fair to give these books the same rating . Its almost an insult towards Tomasis writing and the artists working on Batman and Robin ...

Bolded and underlined the key part of this entire discussion. Those three beautiful words mean as long as I justify why I'm giving a certain score (which I hopefully did through the span of my review), I have the right to do so. You have every right to disagree, but to think it's an "insult" towards the creative team makes no sense to me. First and foremost, they're adults and aware that the comic community is a very critical crowd. They're producing a subjective product and because of this, will be open to both criticism and praise -- and rightfully so because we're paying for their work as a source of entertainment. The art isn't terrible nor is Tomasi's writing, but when I put down the issue I was far more disappointed than pleased with the issue -- and hopefully, I did an ample job with why in the review. Because of this, a 2 star rating was appropriate for me.

Furthermore, I think if Tomasi and company read the review and not only look at the score, it would be more than evident the I want the title to succeed and do indeed have faith in their capabilities. Unfortunately, this latest story was very lackluster in my opinion.

Well said.

Posted by Lvenger

I'm glad I jumped the shark with this series. I left at Batman and Robin #9 at the Night of the Owls crossover. 1-8 were brilliant and 9 was OK. Perhaps 0 too. But the rest of the issues have been poor. Tomasi needs to up his game. He was doing so well up until recently.

Posted by DocFishstick

i loved the Nobody arc. i could not stop reading it. i think it will turn around and get a lot better in story.