Never has a comic book reached so deeply into the heart of the Dark Knight. The pages are dark and silent. No words are spoken. No sound effects give tone. Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason have created a pure work of art. They have told the story of grief felt everywhere and in all times without words. This comic is pure emotion.
It’s no surprise that Batman and Robin was the Bat-book chosen to convey Bruce’s grief. With Damian’s death in “Batman Inc. #8,” the Bat-family was left broken, scarred. No words could describe the anger and pain brewing within Bruce Wayne. The comic book world looked to Batman and Robin for a glimpse of this pain, so Tomasi did the one thing a good writer could:
He kept quiet.
In “Batman and Robin #18” the actions speak louder than the words and the pictures are worth millions. When Bruce covers the family portrait, it gives the glimpse that the world demands. As he settles into his activities as the Batman, he sees Damian’s shadows everywhere. During these small flashbacks, the world is bright and happy, but when they end, so does the light. The pages go back to darkness.
A letter, quickly scrawled by Damian, contains almost all of the written words in the comic. It too cuts deep, and I’m not too proud to admit that it brought a tear to my eye.
The comic book ends with yet another look back. Bruce holds Damian’s tattered Robin costume close as the rest of the world fades away. This is a reference to Batman and Robin #14 in which a kneeling Bruce really hugged his son.
The story has come full circle. The relationship between father and son grew and developed. Bruce began to really connect with Damian. And now that the relationship is gone, grieving will take its place.
In the coming months, Batman and Robin will change its name to Batman and… The comic will feature Red Robin, Red Hood, Batgirl, Catwoman, and Nightwing in that order. Tomasi has said that the comics will focus on Batman going through the five stages of grief, presumably with one emotion and one character per month. With this issue though, Tomasi and Gleason seem to have captured a sixth emotion, one that hits even earlier than the others: shock.
This is a brilliant comic, with phenomenal art, and unbelievable emotion. I look forward to looking through it again and again, and I could not recommend it more highly. It gets a solid 10/10 from me.