Comic Reviews: Batman & Robin and The Red Claw!
Bruce Wayne continues his battle with the five stages of grief in this month’s Batman & Robin, although since he’s joined by Red Hood, the name after the “&” is Jason Todd’s alter ego, not the previously deceased Damian Wayne. Much like last issue, Batman is looking for a way to resurrect his son, but unlike last issue, he’s not going through supernatural methods.
Starting with a return appearance from the New 52’s Carrie Kelly, Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s 20th issue of the title continues the strong characterization of Bruce going through another tragic loss, something that the other Bat-books have largely skipped over. Still obsessed with trying to bring back Damian, Bruce goes to the closest person to him that has been brought back from the dead: Jason Todd, aka the Red Hood, and more importantly, the second Robin (and the first one to die). Kelly factors only fleetingly in the beginning of the issue, and it seems like Tomasi is going to keep her around for a while, so if she does become the new Robin, it at least won’t be for quite some time.
After Kelly is ushered out of the picture, Jason visit Bruce in the Batcave. Still on watch from the Joker’s attack in the “Death Of The Family” story arc (this issue takes place before Red Hood And The Outlaws #19), Bruce tells Jason that he has one thing left to ask him before he leaves. Travelling to Africa, Bruce has tracked down a few of the assassins who attacked Damian in Batman, Inc. #1 when Talia but out a hit on him. With Jason in tow, the two lay waste to the assassins, with Batman’s attacks on them being exceptionally brutal. It’s not until after they deal with those criminals that we learn the real reason why Batman brought Red Hood with him: it’s near the location where Todd was murdered by the Joker. Bruce hopes that by bringing Jason to the spot that he died he’ll remember something about his resurrection, which doesn’t exactly go over well with Todd.
Tomasi’s handle on the Bruce’s despair continues to be the highlight of this series, and watching Bruce deal with yet another tragic loss, but with the the ability to do something about it this time, is fascinating. Batman’s ability to focus in on something is used almost like a weakness here, and his verbal sparring match (that turns into an actual sparring match) with Red Hood is fantastic, and really makes you feel for Jason Todd as a character. It’s as if even he is aware that his sole claim to fame is being the “Robin who died”. There’s no amount of praise that I haven’t already heaped onto Patrick Gleason, just know that this criminally underrated artist once again rules the page.
Batman & Robin may have one half of it’s title characters six feet under, but it’s still proving to be a fascinating series, and an interesting look into the way a character that was shaped by a tragedy handles a new one. The strongest Bat-title that isn’t written by the almighty Snyder, Batman & Robin has never been more accessible than right now. Each story is a one and done, but still a part of the over arching story of Bruce going though the stages of grief over his son. I may still hate the fact that Damian is gone, but at least I have this incredible storyline to work my way towards acceptance.
From the pages of Fatsquad comes the Red Claw! Created by NH based creators Rich Brunelle and Josh Belanger, the Red Claw is the latest animal-based vigilante to hit the streets, and the mystery around his identity continues to bother Rich, Al, Josh, Body Pillow, and the rest of the Fatsquad crew. This issue finds the group taking it to the streets to get to the bottom of this mysterious midnight predator with hilarious results. There’s plenty to like in this comic, especially if you’re a fan of other humorous takes on super heroes like The Tick. Red Claw features a ton of hilarious gags and dialogue, and there’s many times while reading it that I felt like I was within the comic hanging out with them (and some people may even notice that I AM in the book for a panel).
It’s not all fun and games though, as Brunelle and Belanger give us more action than in the previous two issues. The local police department, tired of the Red Claw’s antics, assemble a hit squad to take him down. When Claw falls into one of their traps, it leads to a fantastic action sequence where Red Claw single handedly takes out the entire police crew going after him, which then leads to the reveal of the big bad who’s been watching from the shadows since the series started.
Red Claw has been released every year around Free Comic Book Day, and back issues can be found on the Fatsquad website. I highly recommend clicking the link and giving them your hard earned cash. Not only are Rich and Josh stand up guys, but they make awesome books as well. While it’s tough to wait for new issues (especially when they end them with cliffhangers like this one), the end product is well worth it.