Batman and Robin has been a title that has been a very uneven read since being launched. We have had some excellent issues, issues 1–3, and horrible issues, issues 4–9. Morrison just hasn’t brought his A-game to this title as his focus seems to be more with planning the Return of Bruce Wayne. But now that Bruce’s return is underway hopefully it means Morrison will bring his A-game to this title. With this new story arc involving Joker, Dr. Hurt and all the leftover plot threads from Batman: RIP I am really looking forward to this issue as I did like RIP a lot. Now let’s see if Batman and Robin #13 delivers on all my expectations.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frazer Irving
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 0 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We see in this issue some flashbacks to Bruce’s parents murder and then we see Gotham City citizens welcoming back Thomas Wayne. Then in Wayne Mansion Dr. Hurt walks into a room were Dick and Damian are tied up and he shoots Dick in the back off the head.
Three days earlier we see Batman is with Joker telling Joker that he figured out Joker was Oberon Sexton from the beginning. Joker tries to say he is normal now thanks to the original Batman’s death. Batman and Robin don’t believe Joker and he is taken to jail by the cops. Robin goes with the cops while Batman has Commissioner Gordon come with him to the Batbunker.
After blindfolding Commissioner Gordon Batman drives to the Batbunker where he explains to Gordon that Pyg, Santo, Flamingo, and the “99 Fiends” all worked for El Penitente who is connected to the Black Glove. He continues to say that the virus Pyg was releasing is a dormant virus that is activated by a viral trigger. Gordon interrupts to tell Batman that Robin has locked himself in with Joker which causes Batman and Gordon to get into the Batmobile to go the police station.
In Joker’s cell Robin locks himself in with Joker. Robin tells Joker that he does not believe the Joker has changed but Joker tries to convince Robin he has, all the while smiling. Robin says that Joker does not know chaos which causes Joker to say Robin sounds like him (Bruce). Robin takes out a crowbar and starts beating the Joker with it.
In the city Batman and Gordon are in the Batmobile trying to get to the police station as quickly as possible but are suddenly shot down. Batman and Gordon are then surrounded by convicts who have escape Blackgate prison. Over in Blackgate prison Pyg gets ready to set out. End of issue.
The Good: From a plain story perspective Batman and Robin #13 was a phenomenal read. Morrison really brought his A-game for this issue and wrote what is the best issue of Batman and Robin by far. It is just too bad that the Frazer Irving did not deliver for such an excellent story, which I’ll get to those problems later.
This is the first issue since Batman and Robin #3 that Morrison really put in an effort and seemed to have fun writing. One of my biggest complaints about the last 9 issues of this series is that at times Morrison was half-assing the story, to the point it just seemed that he was wasting time until The Return of Bruce Wayne came out. But in this issue Morrison really nailed all of the characters voices in this issue.
I especially liked how he wrote Dick Grayson in this issue. This is the first issue Dick sounded like he should sound. Even though he is still not sure about being Batman for a long time, especially with him knowing Bruce is coming back, he sounded confident when interacting with everyone in this issue. He showed that he is a great detective and should be the one wearing the cowl if Bruce is not around. I also liked that Jim mentioned that all the cops in Gotham prefer Dick as Batman as a nice way to show that Dick does command a lot of respect in Gotham just like Bruce did/does.
The conversation between Dick and Joker was one of my favorite scenes in this issue. It was just perfect. Morrison did a great job showing that these two characters share a long history Joker with one another. I liked that Joker knew that the Batman he was talking to was the original Robin. And it’s good seeing that Dick knows, just like the reader knows, that the Joker can snap at any time and will turn into the maniac we all know and love.
Also I got to hand it to Morrison for writing a fantastic Joker. Joker is probably the character in the Batman universe that Morrison writes the best. He understands that Joker is never the same from appearance to appearance. Joker is a character that “adapts” and always changes depending on the setting and the type of Batman he is facing. And it’s cool that because Bruce is gone that Joker has become tame as the Joker represents the chaos that Bruce is trying to control. It is a good way to show that Joker needs Bruce, not just Batman, around to be his complete villainous self.
Morrison continues to write a great Damian. I like how Morrison continues to evolve the character and show that Damian has come to accept his role as Robin. Even though Dick has helped to lighten Damian up we still see that angry little kid inside of Damian in the fantastic scene with the Joker. It was a great scene that played as a nice reminder that Damian is someone that before becoming Robin was a trained assassin. Damian believes in taking out those he faces once in for all especially when it comes to the bigger Batman Rogues like the Joker.
Now I am interested to see where Morrison goes with the whole Dr. Hurt is Thomas Wayne story angle. I am still not convinced Morrison is going to make Dr. Hurt actually Thomas Wayne. Morrison isn’t the type of guy who would reveal the identity of such a big character like Dr. Hurt so quickly. So I am going to be interested to see who Dr. Hurt really is and why has he gone to such extremes to destroy the Wayne family legacy that he would go so far as to pose as Thomas Wayne.
Another thing that will be interesting to see is if Morrison really does have Dick die by the time Bruce returns. I’ve seen a lot of people on the Internet say that Morrison is going to kill Dick because of the image we saw in Batman #666 and Dick being shot in the back of the head in this issue. I don’t think Morrison is going to kill of Dick and he is just leading all of us he is because he will maybe kill of another big Batman character instead. I honestly think that with how he has built up Damian that Morrison will kill Damian by having him sacrifice himself to save his dad. That is just a gut feeling which I may be completely wrong.
Also I loved the ending of this issue with Morrison showing that Gotham City is going to be plunged into darkness on the day of Black Sun and that we had Pyg return at the end of the issue. This is going to be a big challenge that Dick and Damian as Batman and Robin are going to face as they have a whole city in chaos to face. The whole set up makes this story feel like it is the big epic that this series should have had much earlier. Can’t wait to get the next issue to see what Morrison has in store for the new Dynamic Duo.
The Bad: I am not a fan of Frazer Irving’s artwork at all. This issue and the issue that he did for The Return of Bruce Wayne are the only two issues were I have been exposed to Irving’s art and I have to say both have been horrible. Just like in The Return of Bruce Wayne issue this issue lacked any depth. Especially when it comes to Morrison penned story detail is everything and Irving just doesn’t seem to put much effort in the art over that giving every character’s faces wrinkles.
Almost the whole issue the characters faces do not match the characters bodies. There was also an inconsistency with character’s faces as there were some spots where characters showed a bunch of wrinkles almost looking like they were 100 years old then in other spots were they were wrinkle free. Gordon especially looked like he was at least 100 years old. And outside of the Joker almost every character seemed to be squinting as their eyes were non-existent
And when it came to the Joker it seemed that Joker’s head was floating in the air as his body was non-existent. It was just a big paint of black with Joker’s head on top of the black paint splat.
Honestly Irving’s artwork would work much better if he was drawing some horror comic as his art would fit a zombie title, maybe like Marvel Zombies, perfectly. Every character in here looks like something out of a zombie movie anyway. It sucks that just as Morrison is going to give us the great story we have all expected from him that the art has to be so poor.
Overall: Batman and Robin #13 was an excellent story. Even though the artwork for this issue was absolutely horrendous Morrison was able to deliver a story that is good enough that I will be able to power through the awful artwork. Morrison really delivered the type of quality story that I expect from him that sadly he hadn’t delivered since the start of this series. But hear is looking up to a story with a lot of potential that should be one of the better Batman stories Morrison has written. I highly recommended picking this issue up as the story is great, just be warned the art is just plain awful but the story is worth powering through.