Batman & Robin #6 feels like an example of how DC is trying to buy time. The New 52 hasn’t exactly taken off like gangbusters and the fallout could be right around the corner. When facing the bust of a big idea any big company is going to try and buy time. Batman & Robin #6 is part of that picture, or at least it feels that way. The story started out well, a figure from the Dark Knight’s past arrives to settle an old score as well as try and kill Batman for going easy on criminals. Even the subplot involving Batman’s lack of fathering skills towards Damian was worked in nicely.
However, issue 6 is where the story turns from interesting to long-winded. It seems that Damian has turned against Batman, joining forces with Morgan Ducard in his murderous rampage against the underbelly of Gotham City. Here’s the interesting part, the bookends of Batman & Robin #6 are quite good, and it’s the middle where cracks in the story show. We just don’t need another multiple page flashback to Bruce’s history with Ducard. In issue #5 the flashback dragged the story down. Here it almost kills it.
The problem with the flashback is how unnecessary it is. As readers we only need a small amount of set up to understand the history between Ducard and Batman, especially given how Morgan Ducard’s father has long played into the entire legacy. As bad as unnecessary exposition is, it’s even worse when the tale being told is boring. Wow, Morgan and Bruce turned against each other. Bruce won and it’s been a thorn in Morgan’s side for years. How unoriginal. That sting of the cliché might have been avoided without the flashback.
Writer Peter J. Tomasi shines with the Damian story. Even though the twist is telegraphed from page one, it’s still well written. Tomasi does a nice job of building the tension between Batman and Damian and does equally solid work on Batman’s sense of urgency when searching for his son. I like Ducard’s character outside of the flashback and the final pages are very exciting. If the end had happened in the middle and some resolution had come about, then the story could have been perfect. Instead, we have to wait for the resolution in issue #7, unless of course DC decides to push it off again.
The art from Patrick Gleason is first rate. I enjoy how each panel is stark and set deeply in a noir sensibility. Everything is centered, the attention of completely put on the foreground. Gleason’s strong lines and use of basic colors gives everything a great composition. The final pages of the story are a statement of how good Gleason is at movement. The final splash page leaps out of the comic book with a visceral power that is undeniable. Batman & Robin #6 is a nicely penciled decent book that, with a little editing, could have been amazing.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 7/10 (3 Story, 4 Art)