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Batman and Robin #21 - The Bargain Review

3

Batman continues to punish criminals and Batgirl attempts to help him cope with his loss.

The Good

When it comes to BATMAN AND ROBIN post Damian's death, I expect some gripping conflicts between Batman and members of the Bat-family. I expect to see Wayne's actions and mentality change (to some degree) from issue to issue since writer Peter J. Tomasi says these issues will tackle the five stages of grief. Based on how everything has played out thus far, I think it's a reasonable expectation. However, it only delivered on one of those and even then, the scene was hindered by Batman dropping a remark or two which felt slightly off.

Patrick Gleason's absence is certainly noted, but Cliff Richards does a more than able job with the illustrations and really delivers on the multiple melees. The combat feels fluid and there's a great sense of motion behind every individual punch and kick these characters throw. And Batman being brutal Batman? It's vicious. When the guys he's pummeling say they'd be cool with killing innocents, I suddenly don't feel so bad about seeing Wayne savagely obliterate them and instead being to enjoy the savagery.

The Bad

We've seen denial and rage from Batman and now it was time for bargaining. Except it's not Batman bargaining anything -- it's Batgirl bargaining. In fact, this issue feels pretty much like an issue of BATGIRL and Batman co-stars. Nothing against Barbara, of course, but the handling of her character really bogged down the issue. First and foremost, we're hit with a lot of exposition (literally over two pages worth). It basically serves as a recap for everything Batgirl has been through and why she has recently removed the bat-symbol from her attire. For me, it really took away from the pacing and structure of the issue. It's meant to be a tender moment, but it instead feels like an attempted "Batgirl 101" for people unfamiliar with the character.

It's safe to assume many of us are here to see how Batman is coping and changing in the wake of the terrible event with Damian. This issue doesn't deliver on that at all and we see nothing truly new from him. It instead focuses hugely on Gordon (who spends most of the book talking about events in her own book). She's the one doing the changing. And Batman? He's still just being excessive while fighting out goons and covering the same ground we've already seen. The only real difference is he has some cool new equipment. Needless to say, it's disappointing to me.

Minor error: Batgirl's symbol was colored in one panel during the opening brawl.

The Verdict

This issue definitely brings the goods when it comes to visuals and action, but I thought it was far less absorbing than the previous encounters. The proposal Batgirl makes is the best part of the dynamic between the two, but for me, that doesn't overcome all of the exposition and a lack of development from Batman. Even if you're a massive Batgirl fan, I imagine you'll find this read somewhat tedious until the heated conclusion. Unfortunately, it's just not as compelling as the previous issues and it lacks the emotional impact they've delivered. Certainly not a bad issue -- just a bit of a letdown for me.

14 Comments
Edited by ZZoMBiE13

Thanks Gregg. Always enjoy your reviews and articles. :)

Edited by Battle_Forum_Junkie

How is Batman and Robin?

I'm thinking about picking it up.

Edited by k4tzm4n

Thanks Gregg. Always enjoy your reviews and articles. :)

Just doing my job, zzombie13! But thank you very much.

How is Batman and Robin?

I'm thinking about picking it up.

Overall, it's one of my favorite DC titles. If you are going to check it out, I recommend starting with issue 17. And if you have extra cash, I definitely recommend the first story arc.

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Posted by Teenage_Fansub

@battle_forum_junkie: Yeah. Start with the Annual and #17. They're some of the most heartfelt comics you'll read. I think this issue is uncharacteristically weak. Not having Gleason on art takes a lot away.

Edited by doordoor123

@battle_forum_junkie said:

How is Batman and Robin?

I'm thinking about picking it up.

The first arc is my favorite -- probably one of my favorite Bat-arcs since the start of the New 52. It is pretty consistently good throughout though.

Posted by dreamfall31

Hoping this series comes back to the quality of the first arc. This 5 stages of grief was a cool idea, but it just seems to end up being 5 different issues where Batman acts out of character and makes other bat-family characters mad. As Snyder's not gonna have much Batman himself for the next year, I added this to my list so I could have some Batman.

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Edited by Nightwing_Beyond

I'm excited for the Batman and Nightwing issue since that'll be the issue to close this grief period. Since that issue is what ties up this arc, I think it'll be the issue that will show Bruce to be more like his usual self. I would think a hero of Batman's stature wouldn't get so butthurt that Barbara removed her Bat symbol. Sure, he may feel bad about it but, he would just silently brude and not say what's bothering him. I think Peter Tomasi is just trying to create enough interesting material to span five issues since this story could've been told in two.

Edited by Hawkguy

Not looking forward to the next Catwoman issue too much. I'm super pumped for Nightwing because if anyone can get to Bruce the best its Dick. I wish Alfred took a bigger part in all this, he's been with Bruce since birth, he should be a bigger role in his grief.

I get confused as to why people say its Batman out of character... Isn't that the point? Isn't that what these 5 stages are trying to get across? That losing Damian is really changing Bruce's mentality on life, at least for the moment.

Posted by victorcheenoanleu

The only stage of grief I've liked so far is the one with Red Robin. The one with Red Hood was just to service the RHATO story. This one sucked because of what Gail is doing on Batgirl. Not looking forward to Catwoman at all. Hopefully they close big with the Nightwing issue cause after that it's Villians month.

Posted by KnightofSteel

I didn't enjoy this issue at all. Gleason missing on art duties was sorely missed. Didn't seem much happened, Batman beats on criminals, Barbara lays the drama on Bruce. Not much substance to this issue.

Posted by XSpectreGreyX

This issue was pretty average to me. The art is decent at best, and the dialogue is very awkward and forced, and there's too much of it in regards to Barbara. And frankly, her talking about James Jr.'s death should be reserved for her own series. This issue is too focused on Batgirl. Last I checked, she was meant to be the guest, not the star. This issue just felt unnecessary as a Batman and Robin issue.

This storyline is really getting tiresome, especially since it's basically the same each issue. It's pretty formulaic. Batfamily character calls Bruce out, he gs mad and rage quits. But at least Red Robin and Red Hood were more than "Batman is angry and violent." Theyhad Bruce actually doing things other than what he normally does. And even if he is doing what he does, issue 18 did this a lot better and it had minimum dialogue. I just want to get the Batman and Nightwing issue and get this over with. Let's face it, we all know that's who will resolve this, being not only the prodigal son, but arguably the person closest to Damian (inarguably in the top two), and actually trying to move past this.

Overall, this issue just felt too focused on Batgirl, and hardly progressed Batman's character. The art is pretty much average, and the dialogue is just so damn awkward. And c'mon, it's just incredibly predictable, barring the ending with the smashed case. I just really want to finish this storyline.

Edited by austinmrkieross

the way i feel about it in the end alfred should come after dick because its only natural plus the charaters in the issues go is the order of the bat family in reverse think about

this is the bat family

alfred dick cat barb jason tim

this is how th issues are gong

tim jason barb cat dick alfred

so naturaly the one person that has never left bruce been there through it all alfred should end it all up like with a real deep talk about everything that gives him the will to go on and clarity to see through all this and keep going on

and personally i kind of understand cat in it all because she has been around with bat for a long time like really catwoman has been around bats nearly as much as joker and before the rest of the family except dick and alfred

Edited by austinmrkieross

@hawkguy: so true alfed knows bats in a way nobody will

Edited by Solomonwreath

I need an issue with just him and Alfred dealing with these issues. but I like the more violent batman it's refreshing to see him inspire fear as well as bring unnecessary amounts of violence to people.

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