Review: Batman & Robin #13

Published on July 11th, 2010

The award for the ‘Most Sadistic Bastard of the Year’ goes to… Grant Morrison. Undeniably, the man writes good comics and he is an astonishly smart writer, but by God does he lather everything in mystery and cryptic mumbo-jumbo. Reading his current Batman comics is one of the most painstakingly agonising experiences I’ve ever been through, yet I love his work and the impact it leaves when he finally delivers the punch at the end of his stories.

Take this issue for example, Batman & Robin #13. Once you’ve read it, stood back and observed what ‘it is’, you’ll probably have a hard time finding someone who wouldn’t say that it was solid. It was good. In my opinion there is no doubt about that. It’s just the way he drags his plots out, and builds up the tension. It is a great technique, especially if you are a decent writer like Morrison and you can deliver groundbreaking twists at the same time, but it’s murder if you’re the reader having to wait for his story to unfold. This is the same for all his works on Batman. They are good, but they are very long.

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This issue sees the start of a new story-arc entitled, ‘Batman And Robin Must Die’. Immediately that’s a big no no, as we have been assured many times (even by the Bat himself), that Batman & Robin ‘can never die’. This issue has some mammoth spoilers, which will probably be rewritten in the next few issues, but regardless were enough to drop the jaws of even the cruelest of fans. The issue felt a lot like ‘Batman R.I.P’, with it’s heavy symbolism, it’s dramatic action sequences, and complete disregard for explaining anything. It was fun, and all the traits I just listed do come together to form an appealing story.

The issue starts on a rather controversial note, with the Black Glove shooting Dick in the back of the head. The issue then jumps back in the story to ‘3 days earlier’, and continues to show us how Dick and Damien got themselves into the situation which we were teased at in the first pages of this comic. It should be interesting, and I’m glad that it involves the Joker (who was revealed to be Oberon Sexton). There were some super parts to this issue, and some parts which were a little dull, but that’s to be expected as it’s all part of Grant’s technique. All of my favourite parts were with the Joker, who for me was the highlight of the issue from start to finish. I especially liked to see Damien smashing the Joker around with a crowbar, that was cool. Also, seeing what the Joker did to the real Oberon Sexton as well, that was creepy, but very cool.

Unfortunatly though, it’s not all sunshine and fun. Enter Frazer Irving. Irving’s art is one of the most disgusting styles I have seen. His facial expressions completely ruin the atmosphere of this comic, marking it down in my books. Irving’s Joker is horrid, he makes him look retarded, and inbred rather than a fucked up madman. Frank Quietly’s Joker is the best in my opinion. The only decent page Irving drew was the very first, which was quite nice indeed. The worst page was the big one with the Black Glove walking away from the helicopter. I hope he doesn’t stick around for much longer on this title.

Art aside, at the end of the day it was a relatively entertaining read, with some nice twists and turns that are typical for a Morrison title. I like seeing the Black Glove and the Joker, as it makes me think of R.I.P, which I enjoyed a heck of a lot. I look forward to reading more, though I’m not so sure if I am looking forward to seeing more.

Rob Andrews
Rob@comicimpact.com