“The New 52” Series: The Future of Batman and Robin
Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly EditorFrom the generated response of my previous article, I will continue in the next few weeks do a series of commentaries on “The New 52” surrounding Damian’s ultimate fate in Batman Incorporated. I have many great things planned for each week, so please continue to show support by reading, sharing these articles on social media (Tumblr, Twitter, and Reddit), and responding to these articles. Many of the commentaries on the internet either focus on the author’s emotional response or the overall quality of a specific character; this series will look at “The New 52” from an editorial standpoint, looking at how each issue works as a part of the whole universe.
This week I’ll be focusing Batman and Robin. With the death of Robin in Batman Incorporated, it would be hard to have a Batman and Robin title without one of its characters. Writer Peter Tomasi plans do deal with that problem by having the next five issues by titled “Batman And…” with a different member of the Bat Family each week, with the following issues:
#19: Batman and Red Robin
#20: Batman and Red Hood
#21: Batman and Batgirl
#22: Batman and Catwoman
#23: Batman and Nightwing
It was also revealed that Tomasi will “explore the five stages of grief” and states the he intends “to explore it in a very visceral way”. Tomasi, on an earlier note, also revealed that Batman and Robin #18 “is an entirely silent issue; no text, no sound effects, storytelling at its purest form — show don’t tell” in an interview on comicbookresources.com on February 25th. At this point, a lot of this is still just words: “visceral” doesn’t provide us any concrete details or invoke any specific emotion because of its vagueness. What’s visceral to one person could be completely different to another; however, because of his other comment on the “silent” aspect of the issue, it goes to reason that Tomasi is going to push the boundaries of what’s been done before. This gives us, as readers, something to look forward to. These titles give us a taste of what to look for as well.
The five stages of grief are as follows: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Over the course of five months, it appears that Batman will go through each stage with a different member of his family. Speculations have already be made about the roles of each member of the family in each issue; however, no one seems to be talking about the Huntress. The Huntress is Helena Wayne from an alternate earth, the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, and has already met Damian Wayne. It has been hinted that Huntress “is personally affected by a tragedy in The New 52”, as it says in World’s Finest #10’s tagline. One might wonder why she has no discernible role in Batman’s process of bereavement.
Batman has just had his son taken from him by the woman he once loved. By witnessing Talia’s actions towards Damian, along with his own inability to save his son, Batman is likely to be in a very dark place right now, from both familial and romantic perspectives. We, as readers, can determine that Damian’s death is special because it appears that his death invokes a unique reaction from him: when Damian dies, it’s implied—from the first page in Batman Incorporated #1—that Bruce Wayne is ready to give up the fight, whereas when Jason died, we saw Bruce become more violent and aggressive while dealing with his grief. Because Damian sends Bruce into apparent depression, we understand that Bruce is experiencing something more by losing his literal child. So, it would stand that Batman could find recovery in the realization of having a daughter.
It’s time for Huntress and Batman to meet; now is the perfect opportunity. Although Helena has gone through the Robin training already on her alternate earth, she can ground Bruce like Robin did by creating new familial bonds from which to explore Bruce’s character and her own. Tomasi has already stated that “he doesn’t want to take the expected route” and what would be more unexpected than giving Bruce the time he needs to recover while still giving him a Robin-like partnership? In the latest issue of World’s Finest, Helena retreated right before Bruce caught her at Damian’s grave, missing a perfect opportunity for a meeting; however, one of the best parts of that issue came from Helena’s internal monologue when she appealed to her real father, asking him for advice. This gave us insight into Helena’s character, and we know that she’s still attached to her own Batman from Earth-2.
Many things were said about Grant Morrison in the last article, but one thing was not. Morrison has succeeded as a writer in so far as that he’s making drastic changes across the board with a single event that forces the universe to react and prove to its readers that this is a DC Universe. Both he and Tomasi have also piqued our interest enough to make us want to continue reading and that, above all, should be a mark of their success.
Next week Emertainment Monthly will publish an exclusive interview with the artist of Batman Incorporated, Chris Burnham.