One of the things I’m hoping for with the DC reboot is that the Batman & Robin series gets some kind of focus. Between Grant Morrison’s psycho pig arc and then the random piecemeal we’ve been given in the post-Morrison issues, Batman & Robin hasn’t really found its voice. Issue #26, the last before the reboot, doesn’t really rise above that mark. It’s clear this is a throw away issue, something to cap off the Dick Grayson and Damien Wayne era of this series before Bruce Wayne returns as the sole Dark Knight. If this was another series, I’d be disappointed it went out this way. With Batman & Robin it’s just par for the course.
Issue 26 takes place in France, where a breakout at the Le Jarden Noir, the Arkham Asylum of Paris, has brought Dick, Damien and the French Batman Nightrunner (Confused? Check out Batman Inc.) onto the scene. The inmates who escaped have kooky powers; one can turn people into glass, as well as suitably kooky names like “The ID”. The story really just becomes a play on how random and weird writer David Hine can make this story, which isn’t the problem. The real disconnect comes with how pretentious Hine makes the issue. At no point within these 22 pages does it feel like Hine isn’t working overtime to make the story “different”. I realize this type of story is what he does, but here it just alls apart. It comes off more like a bad art student’s final project.
The end of the story is the most disappointing. After all the extravagant plotlines, the lush images and bizarre story, the entire thing comes down to a French version of the Joker being pissed off at his father. Sure, Hine puts flowers and bells and whistles on it, but the end is still incredibly lackluster. As I’ve said, this is just another in a series of unfocused and often boring missteps in a series that began with a lot of promise. I remember really enjoying the first few issues of Batman & Robin before the whole thing collapsed under the weight of pretension and sloppy story telling.
I did enjoy the art, which I didn’t expect. Usually the fine art of side of comics doesn’t do much for me, but here it works. Greg Tocchini who brings a soft hand to the art handles the first fourteen pages. There are no hard lines, no rough edges that give definition, everything is subtle and easy. While I know this isn’t the medium Tocchini probably works in, the art in Batman & Robin #26 comes off like it was handled with magic markers. The final five pages are the work of Andrei Bressen, who combines a more typical comic book style with a flair for the dramatic. Visually this issue is a real joy, it’s very pretty and fun to look at. If the story had been up to par with the art, this final adventure of Dick & Damien could have been something that rose above the banality of the series itself.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 3.5/10