Batman and Robin #37
Written by Peter Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray and John Kalisz
Lettering by Carlos M. Mangual
Published by DC Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
C'mon, nobody really needs spoilers for this one, do they?
He's back. It might not make a lot of sense, but he's back.
Peter Tomasi brings back Damian Wayne with the biggest bang in the DC Universe, as Batman goes head-to-head against Darkseid, cosmic big bad and a guy who is well out of Bruce's weight class - not to mention the guy who killed Bruce himself, once upon a Final Crisis. With this kind of reputation - not to mention the resulting battle royale - it's perhaps forgivable that Tomasi's actually plan to bring back Robin doesn't have a ton of logic, instead relying in meaningless comic book mumbo jumbo. Leaning instead on the spectacular artwork of Patrick Gleason, Batman and Robin #37 is a battle you'll certainly remember, even if it's one you probably shouldn't even try to have make sense.
The thing that defines Batman and Robin #37 is scale. Not only does this issue mark the return of Robin - it also marks Batman going up against Darkseid, the man who once killed him. And Tomasi and Gleason know this - indeed, eight out of this book's 21 pages are splash pages, showing hit after potent hit between these two titans. Sure, someone might think of Batman in his "Hellbat" suit as the height of self-indulgence - an almost fan-fiction-esque overpowering of a character who regularly defies logic thanks to the powers of "prep time" - but it's also fan-service to a more forgiving kind of fan. You don't want to see Batman beat the crap out of Darkseid? Then beat it, you can go read more "street-level" adventures over in a dozen other books.
What those dozen other books don't have, though, is Patrick Gleason. There's a real fluidity to his pencils, which looks great when you have a lead character who's suited up in armor in a cape that is literally made of hundreds of shadow bats. You can't help but marvel at how metal this fight is, especially when Batman pulls a Tony Stark and burns a bat-shaped uni-beam into a wall - complete with Darkseid's helpless imprint in the center. And the actual resurrection of Damian is just jaw-droppingly pretty, as Bruce shakes off the literal decay of Apokolips, bathed in energies beyond human understanding.
Or at least that's what Tomasi wants you to think. If there's anything wrong with Batman and Robin #37, it's that the resurrection of Damian Wayne makes almost no sense even from comic book storytelling standards. Sure, Tomasi has set up left-field MacGuffins like the "Chaos Shard" several issues ago, but - SPOILERS ON, in case you didn't notice from the rest of the review - making it some sort of magical protect-all from Darkseid's Omega Beams and all-purpose resurrection device feels almost laughable in how much it's cheating. But seriously, if you weren't expecting Damian Wayne to come back somehow - whether it be chaos shard, Highfather's intervention, the Life Equation, time travel, or Dan DiDio hopping into the comic himself with a magic eraser - I got a bridge in Gotham to sell you.
The market has spoken, and it's spoken loud - Damian Wayne cannot die. And in so doing, Peter Tomasi has told the most balls-out crazy story he possibly could to get him to this previously mandated conclusion. Ultimately, whether or not you want to descend into this craziness is up to you - sure, it's self-indulgent, it's loosely (perhaps even sloppily) plotted, but that's like going to McDonald's and complaining they don't have steak. This is a fight comic, a gorgeous fight comic, even if it's got zero calories from a storytelling perspective. People will cheer because they have their Robin back, and for them, that's all that will matter. To paraphrase another Batman scribe: Maybe this isn't the book we deserve, but it's the book we need right now.