Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Pat Gleason and Mick Gray
Release Date: April 10, 2013

batmanrobin19Batman and Red Robin #19 is a busy comic. There are no fewer than three guest stars, two of whom are called out on the cover, but there’s still apparently room for a couple of welcome surprises. The first surprise is the third guest star, who is put through a bit of a wringer, but still ends up acting as an unwanted councilor to a grieving, disjointed Batman. The second and probably smaller surprise is that if there’s a bad guy in this issue, it’s Bruce himself, who seeks increasingly desperate ends to try and recover the son that he’s lost.

So what about the two guest stars that I can talk about? Tomasi and Gleason do a great job of creating a Carrie Kelly who brings in the best of Frank Miller’s iconic just-barely-adolescent, spunky, self-driven crimefighter, while updating (and aging) her just enough to make sense in current continuity. Tim Drake, on the other hand, is still suffering from his “I was never Robin” update. While he arguably saves the day, it’s still not entirely clear what kind of relationship he and Bruce did or didn’t have. In a title that was focused so specifically on the relationship between Damian and his father, it seems clear that Red Robin lacks the sort of connection and trust to even be able to reach out to Bruce. It’s a jarring contrast, and probably the biggest reason that Tomasi packed the issue with so many other characters — and that Carrie is given the job of carrying most of the issue’s emotional weight.

That is, other than the dark, driving heart of Batman himself, a man who, as Alfred observes, keeps referring to Damian in the present tense. Grieving is a complicated process, and all the more so for a person who frequently accomplishes the impossible and lives in a world where death is often not the final word.

I’ll be interested to see what the next several months of guest star issues of the series formerly known as Batman and Robin bring to the table. It’ll either go a long way towards building the sort of troubled but deep family dynamic that’s often felt missing from the New 52, or it’ll act as an unhappy reminder of the sort of storytelling difficulties that can result from trying to cram four Robins into five years of character history. In all honesty, I expect that most of the other issues will have more to work with than this one did — I’m particularly looking forward to the Red Hood issue — but right now there just isn’t enough to Tim Drake to make him an emotional anchor for either Bruce or the reader.

Fortunately, Carrie’s there to pick up the slack. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of her soon.

Verdict: 8.0/10


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  1. Sam said:

    I like it. I’d have like it if Tim were in the comic more but over all i still like it. Carry Kelly was a cool edition to have in the comic and so was Frankenstein but as Tim was a titled character i’d have liked to see more of him. I know what you mean about the limited emotional role Tim can actually play now because his origins have been changed so dramatically but you’ll probably find that Tim in his infinite wisdom will try bringing a character back to life himself in the future only to be stopped by Bruce, this is of course because the death of superboy and his parents is none cannon.

  2. Kevin Bradley said:

    I was a bit unhappy with the story in this issue. I would think Bruce would seek out a Lazarus pit before he’d even begin to consider turning Damian into an undead…thing. I remember in an issue of one of the bat-comics a while back someone made mention that there weren’t any pits left, and the implication was “Oh, really? Are you sure?” Seems that would be a more logical option for Bats.

  3. Gavin Craig said:

    Kevin, supposedly Batman Inc is going to deal with the Lazarus Pit issue, so just assume Bats has already tried that.

    Sam, Totally! Doesn’t it almost feel weird for Tim to be trying to talk Bruce out of bringing someone back to life? Clearly not the pre-Flashpoint Tim. (Which isn’t totally bad, but still.)