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Comic Review: Batman and Robin #16

New 52 DC Comics Batman and Robin #16 cover Patrick Gleason

Batman and Robin #16 is everything an event tie-in should be. It’s a Damian Wayne character study; it’s a battle between father and son; it’s a step forward in the evolution of Robin, it’s the perfect lead-in to Batman #17‘s Death of the Family finale.

Writer Peter J. Tomasi has really hit his stride again after his zombie stumbles from Halloween. He’s got Batman and Robin #16 honed to a perfect edge. He put Damian through the Joker’s bug trap in issue #15; now, Tomasi gives the young killer-turned hero his greatest challenge.

Damian is forced to confront a grinning, Joker-gassed Batman in a fight to the death. There’s no doubt Damian is a formidable fighter, and against a slowed Batman, he may just be able to win, but the struggle is as much emotional as it is physical for Robin.

Think Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. These two can throw down, but it’s such an emotionally charged fight that Damian is too conflicted to give it his all, even though his life is on the line. The son must surpass the father to survive, but is he willing to do it?

Artist Patrick Gleason continues to put his own stamp on the Joker with some inventive takes on the skin mask, and his Jokerized Batman is a disturbing sight. Gleason also takes inspiration from last issue’s bug pit by making the pages crawl with insects and worms. Death and decay are everywhere, and they are as much Damian’s opponents as Joker or Batman.

Batman and Robin #16 is an excellent primer for next month’s Batman #17 dinner party. Joker even teases the main course: the same silver platter from Batman #16 appears on the last page here.

If Batman #16 doesn’t psyche you up for the end of Death of the Family, Batman and Robin #16 certainly will.

9 out of 10

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