Wednesday, May 8, 2013

SPOILERS: Batman and Red Hood #20

While Bruce is doing some surveillance over Ethiopia, an unexpected visitor in the form of Carrie Kelley shows up at his door. After being summoned by Alfred, Bruce finds Carrie looking for a further explanation of the other night, and to wants to know where Damian disappeared to. Bruce makes up some lie about Damian spending the next few years abroad, and says he'll have him call her later, then asks why Damian was taking acting lessons from her, to which Carrie tells him Damian wanted to see what it was like being someone else.

Carrie then returns most of Bruce's money, after taking out the amount she was owned. Titus then comes up to her and takes a liking to her, despite Alfred mentioning he's usually wary of strangers. Carrie seems to know a thing or two about dogs and offers some advice for taking care of Titus, Bruce doesn't really listen and tells her that Alfred will show her the way out. As Bruce leaves, Alfred offers Carrie a job of taking care of Titus for a few days a week. Carrie accepts, but asks about Bruce, to which Alfred tells her his bark is worse than his bite.

Bruce later finds Jason (this being set right after his recovery) in Damian's room, looking at the Red Hood mask Damian stole from him. The two speak about Damian for a bit, then Bruce asks Jason to accompany him on a mission to Ethiopia where he plans to bring down some of the men that responded to the half a billion dollar hit put on Damian's head.

In Ethiopia, Bruce has no intention of going in quiet, he wants shock and awe, to strike fear into the heart of the men who targeted his son. That they do, and having reconciled, Bruce and Jason work pretty well together. After all is said and done, Bruce wants to take Jason somewhere.

After a lengthy drive, Jason finds himself in a familiar location, the valley he was killed in. Bruce brought him there in hopes that the locale would spur Jason's memories on how he came back, so perhaps something could be used to get Damian back. Safe to say, Jason doesn't exactly want to be there, but Bruce doesn't exactly want his son to be dead. Things get real heated, real quick, and any good will between the two that had been built up in the past few days gets destroyed.

With the two coming to blows, Jason eventually tries to take Bruce's mask off so he can kick his ass man to man. Bruce basically lets Jason do it, but never falls down. Having gotten his shots in, Jason takes the car and leaves Bruce in the valley.

Then, I don't know, fucking Two-Face?


The Good:

Patrick Gleason didn't pencil the entire issue, Cliff Richards ended up helping out, to which I was a bit concerned, as his style from what I can recall, doesn't really mesh all that well with Gleason's. But, unlike most Richards books I've read recently, there was an inker on his stuff, and Mark Irwin really did a good job to help blend the style to Gleason and Gray's. Still a noticeable switch, but you can tell effort to match the two was put into it.

From a story perspective, there are some genuinely emotional moments that were nice.

The Bad:

As with #19, I'm still having a problem with Bruce's characterization. Even with the backdrop of grief, this is Batman we're talking about, and he's gone from being logic and reason incarnate, to an unruly asshole. I get it, people do things when they're grieving, but at the same time, what Bruce is doing just makes me ask "really?" even given the circumstances. Here he basically says "Jason, I brought you to the place you blew up in hopes that it'll jog your memory on how you came back." Nothing about that makes any sense. We know in the New 52, Talia brought Jason back, most likely through use of a lazarus pit. So what's there to answer? But added to that, what's the point of bringing Jason back to the place he died? The location itself has nothing to do with how he came back. What memories is it going to jog? He was dead. From his perspective, he was dead, then all the sudden, back alive. There's no in between for part for Jason to give Bruce any clues. When you start to think of it, that setting just becomes a thinly veiled device to get Bruce and Jason punching each other, which completely erases their making peace recently, which was great. So this issue takes away something good, and offers nothing but cheap drama in return.

Also, ending on a surprise Two-Face tease with no context was kind of weird.

The Bottom Line:

I really wish I loved these past two issues than I did. I just cannot buy into Bruce acting the way he is, even with Damian's death. There's a lot of room for subtlety that this issue chooses not to utilize, as with the last. The concept of this issue is great, as with the entire arc, but it's just so blatant and in your face, where despite everything, one would expect Batman to act much more guarded, even extremely passive aggressive, but not just lashing out at everyone on a whim with all of his irrationality. To counter that point with "well he's grieving" is just so hallow and lazy, because he's not just anyone, he's fucking Batman.

All that being said, I enjoyed the issue up until the turn with Jason. The two shared some good emotional beats together, and it was fun to see them in action together for the first time in god knows how long. Carrie Kelley is also intriguing, at the very least. Nothing says "she's going to be the next Robin" to me, so that makes me really try and think as to how she'd fit in long term.



  1. When did the story of B and R #20 take place, before or after Batman #20 ? Clayface did get on Bruce's nerve by mimicking Damian, could Bruce's treatment towards Jason in this issue be a result of that?

  2. so much for all the character development we saw back in RH&TO #18... Man, Jason can't catch a break, can he?

  3. If you think about it, this issue could explain why Jason wanted his memories wiped in RHATO #19