This month finds Peter Tomasi, not quite fresh off his Brightest Day run, taking over Batman and Robin, along with Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray on art duty.
The story opens with the family, minus Bruce, in the kitchen, preparing smoothies and popcorn, clearly getting ready to spend a night in. The family makes its way to the den, where a large screen TV is set up and ready to be used. Out of nowhere, Bruce appears and commandeers the remote, setting up the movie for the evening. When he puts in The Mark of Zorro, he explains that up until Joe Chill stepped into the alley, it was one of the best days of his life. The viewing of this film will mark the beginning of a new path for the family.
After that heartwarming moment, we immediately cut to downtown Gotham, where Batman and Robin are roughing up a thug in an alley. Alfred picks them up, and Damian complains about having to quit when Dick does. Unfortunately, Dick has a previous commitment, attending a opera at the Martha Wayne Foundation.
He arrives in time to walk the red carpet, but the stroll is interrupted by an angel falling from the sky. Finally, we get the introduction of the newest story arc "Dark Knight vs. White Knight Part 1 of 3." The splash page shows the angel, excreting a glowing liquid, splayed out on cracked concrete.
We cut to the autopsy room, where Gordon, Batman and Robin are looking over the corpse. When Robin makes a disrespectful remark, Gordon twists his arm and tells him if he ever speaks like that in front of an innocent victim again, it will be the last time he gets to tag along. They go through the unusual aspects of the autopsy. It seems the wings the victim was sporting are hollow tubes filled with a glowing liquid, and he managed to burn off his fingerprints and footprints.
Batman begins digitally scanning the man's face, telling Gordon that if he's ever walked a Gotham street or applied for a photo ID, they'll find him. As Gordon tells Batman and Robin that will only be their first step, they vanish from the room.
They reappear eighty stories up, looking down at the crime scene. Batman says it's either a hell of a statement or a hell of a way to go. Batman appears to flip off the end, but is merely checking the gargoyle's mouth. Inside is a note reading "It's time to end the suffering, I will not add to the world's pain." Batman instructs Robin to give the note to Gordon just before they interrupted by Man-Bat, Kirk Langstrom.
He appears to be having an episode, admonishing Batman and Robin to save them from the light, informing them he can hear their screams. Batman is clinging tightly to Man-Bat as they fly, trying to get more information out of him. Man-Bat believes his children are screaming. Batman tries to talk him down, finally managing to smash them through a window. Robin follows and tells Batman to stop messing around and to clip his wings.
Man-Bat doesn't seem to have any sense of who he actually is or what he's doing. He continues to tell Batman to stay away from the light and to save them. Out of nowhere, thousands of phosphorescent bats appear from nowhere, converge and then rain down on Batman and Robin. Batman, Robin and Man-Bat appear to all be covered in the same glowing liquid from the angel's wings as Batman announces this isn't good.
So, starting with the writing, I like what Peter Tomasi is doing for this book. We're getting a case right away that doesn't look like some new villain is being worked in. I'm not quite sure why that mini-story was at the beginning, unless it's just an excuse to tie it into Batman Inc. I hope we don't have to put up with something similar in each part of this arc, because it did eat a significant number of pages and I don't want to see filler in this arc. That being said, I enjoyed this part. I love when Man-Bat gets brought into things, so I hope he gets used effectively. I'm curious about what he was having his freak-out over at the end of the issue.
The art was only okay. I've been consistently impressed with the drawing in Brightest Day, so I was hoping some of that would following Patrick Gleason to Batman and Robin. The full page spread of Man-Bat bursting out at Batman and Robin was probably the best in the book. There's nothing that stands out as super-impressive in the book but I am actually holding my breath on that for the next issue.
Batman and Robin #20:
Reviewed by Melinda