Peter Tomasi is a heavyweight at DC and has been writing the big titles consistently over the last few years. He was given the task of penning this book at the DC relaunch and has taken the Batman genre to the top of the 52 books. His work on Green Lantern Corps was always interesting and provided insights to the non Hal Jordan lanterns. He continues in the same vein with Batman & Robin where Damien is very much the integral character. Patrick Gleason is also a DC regular and spent many an issue drawing GLC with Tomasi. There is fluidity to his art and his characters always show distinct expressions. I always found the circular nature and symmetrical eyes to heroes’ faces, a little disturbing but that is not to say it does not look good. The death of the family storyline is flying through the bat titles with consistent praise and this is its first Batman and Robin crossover. This book sees Damien hunt down the Joker alone and confront him, trying to ascertain his plans for his father.
This story is incredibly important to the arc: a conversation between Batman’s archenemy, Joker and Batman’s flesh and blood, Damien. The dialogue is incredibly real and befitting of both characters. Damien alludes to killing again whereas Joker focuses on the relationship of the Robins with Batman and himself. His rhetoric is so well thought out and written so passionately that it really brings out the Joker’s genius. The scene where he greets Robin, whilst hanging upside down, with his facial mask the wrong way up and delivering the line, “I’ve turned my frown upside down” is scary yet brilliant. This is not just because of the writing but how horrific the Joker looks with his mouth at his forehead and his eyes around his teeth. Gleason has created the stand out image of the arc, as it is genuinely nauseating and frightening. There is a great six-panel sequence where Robin, hanging from his feet whilst Joker delivers another metaphorical diatribe, smacks him in the head as he circles round to Joker’s face. The next image of the facial mask half hanging off the lunatics head, should give you nightmares. Gleason excels in this issue and has taken his already impressive pencilling and added a horror element to it with astounding success.
The overlying arc progresses in this issue, in the form of a Joker dominated discourse. If it is broken down to its core elements then it is simply a conversation between the characters with the odd physical scuffle. The writing is so good that it engrosses you into the Joker’s insane world. He compares an actual bat and robin with Bruce and Damien, whilst actually holding the real creatures. The metaphor comes to life in the art and in the scene. There is a scene where we look through Joker’s eyes showing Damien blocking the light; this represented the hindrance of the true eminence that shines from Batman. This is not only an analogy that Joker recites, but it is drawn as such to demonstrate further. Whilst comparing Batman to a pez dispenser, Joker tilts his head back and stretches his mouth forward pretending to be the metaphor. He has transformed a zoo into a torture chamber for Robin and it is an extension of his twisted mind. The writing and art are so intertwined that the Joker’s performance is a work of art in itself. Gleason shows phenomenal originality that is so impressive; I struggle to find the words to express it. It maybe a case of art imitating life imitating art. If Batman #13 was the perfect expression of Joker’s fear then this is the perfect representation of the Joker’s mind.
“Psychos don’t have much use for clarity” 10/10