Still held captive by The Joker, Robin is forced to fight a Joker toxin controlled Batman throughout Gotham Zoo. Refusing to kill his father under any circumstances Robin tries to fight simply to survive until he sees no alternative to the kill or be killed scenario he is in he prepares himself to be killed by his father until Joker kills Batman revealing him to be an imposter in a bat suit. With Damian feeling he has failed both Bruce and a still missing Alfred, The Joker has taken another step closer to breaking the bat family.
Peter Tomassi and Patrick Gleeson have done a fantastic job evolving not only the character of Damian Wayne/Robin but his relationship with Bruce/Batman also. Although Bruce was absent in this issue, it was a great example of how far they have come. This issue was Batman vs Robin with Damian believing it was a drugged Bruce attacking him and while he fought throughout to survive when he realized he had no choice but to kill or be killed, he could not bring himself to kill his father and yielded allowing Batman to kill him before Joker intervened killing Batman and revealing him to be an imposter. While Damian has always been portrayed as a kid who somewhat respects his father, that relationship has grown and evolved over this Batman and Robin run to get to this point. Earlier on it wouldn't have been out of character to have Damian go for the kill shot in this situation out of self preservation. Thankfully he has evolved and as a result we got a great scene in this issue of Damian preferring to die by Batman's hand as opposed to Damian killing Bruce and the genuine grief when he thought Joker had killed his father. The evolving relationship between father and son, Batman and Robin is this titles biggest selling point and i think this issue was a great example of how far that relationship has come.
The art was great. Patrick Gleeson draws the definitive Damian Wayne/Robin and did a fantastic job of drawing not only a Joker venomed Batman but a rotting Joker both of which were ultra creepy and quite effective for the story. The colourist and inkers in this issue John Kalisz, Mick Gray and Keith Champagne respectively deserve a ton of credit for helping to create the overall tone and mood in this issue which was absolutely perfect.
As a whole this issue was quite enjoyable and also served as a great addition to the Death of the Family arc. The great thing about how this arc as a whole has played out is the unique ways in which Joker is coming after each bat family member. With Damian's violent killer past, a fight to the death with who he believed was Bruce/Batman the man who helped him to grow and change was a suitable and compelling way to break the current Robin. A worthy edition to the multi-layered Death of the Family arc and a great stand alone issue of a series that continues to be a monthly highlight.
Batman and Robin #16:
Reviewed by David Cook