Thursday, December 10, 2015

Robin, Son of Batman #6

I never liked Tweety Bird. I hope that asshole was the appetizer.

I'm way behind on my comic book reading due to important things like leveling up my guns in Call of Duty and replaying The Temple of Elemental Evil! I've got thirty-four comic books in my stack and I won't be able to do any commentaries between Sunday and Wednesday of this week because my cousin is flying into town to go see Alice Cooper with me on Tuesday. So I'm going to see how many books I can do today by sticking to some kind of bullet point system. Can I actually read a comic book without writing a ton of extraneous, meaningless bullshit? Can I actually concentrate on the story's themes? Probably not. But I'm going to try anyway! If I can actually catch up, it'll be my Christmas present to myself!

Side note regarding giving myself Christmas presents: I am an atheist. I grew up in a family that were, technically, Catholic. At some point. In the past. I was baptized and that's about as much religious upbringing as I had. Religion wasn't really important in my family although my mother still had enough Catholic guilt to yell at me if I ever said "Goddammit!" So Christmas is a secular tradition for me. I suppose since the word is Christ's Mass, I wouldn't ever go so far as to say it should ultimately be embraced as secular. But to think that it's always been all about religion and that everybody has always celebrated it that way until all the Happy Holiday Heathens ruined it is simply ludicrousmas.

This issue begins during one of Damian's Year of Blood quests. He's battling his way through a dungeon when he comes to his next prize guarded by a giant werebat and its children. Damian slays all but one of them because the last one is just too cute to kill, even if you are Damian Wayne, bloodthirsty bastard child of Talia al Ghul.

Poor baby newly orphaned Goliath! I'm totally not sad at all!

It's not fair to use animals to pull on the emotional ripcords of your audience! I'll cry at the drop of a hat if an animal is harmed in a book, comic, or movie. Or if the animal is lonely. Or if the animal is well loved. Or if the animal is an animal. But if you can make me cry in a story that's only about people? You're on some kind of super game at that point. Sure, it happens just not as often as with animals. What I'm trying to say, Patrick Gleason, is don't think you're something special because you're getting my eyes to water seeing the panel of Robin with his eyes watering as he looks down at this cute little critter whose family he just murdered!


Another to way to make me cry if it's a movie is to make your movie a musical. That's also a shortcut to tapping right into a person's emotions so it's mostly cheating. I know there are quite a few movies that don't have animals or songs in them that make me bawl but I can't really think of many right now except maybe Slingblade and Young Guns II.

Robin returns to Talia with the scepter and the Neopet. He asks Talia if he can keep the creature by telling her a lie about how the creature helped him escape the cave and how he totally didn't completely break down from shame and guilt as the innocent creature reached out to Damian who was still bathed in its family's blood. Damian names it Goliath. And that's Goliath's origin story! It was sadder than Batman's origin!

Back to the present, Talia returns to Bialya with the Scepter of Kings. She marches into the court of Prince Abush who has had some dental work since we last saw him. Whoever wields (or "WEILDS" if I want to spell the way Tom Napolitano spells similar words!) the Scepter of Kings will rule Bialya. Prince Abush doesn't like that idea but after getting his new dental work knocked out by the mother of the kid who caused the need for that work, he relents. Or falls unconscious. Talia is now the ruler of Bialya!

Damian has an exploding vagina?

Talia attempts to talk to her son about the upcoming battle with Den Darga. But Damian only has one question for mother: "Why did you kill me?" I can't answer for Talia but I'm pretty sure it has to with with trains in mother's tunnels and Oedipal cigars and reverse Electral penitentiaries. It's all quite psychologically complicated! Or it just might be that she was pissed at him for leaving her and bonding with his father.

Is that other she believed "Grant Morrison"? And when Grant was removed with his need to make Talia and Bruce bitter divorcees, Patrick is now able to make Talia more than just Bruce's vindictive ex?

Just as Damian brought his father a pearl to symbolize how much he was trying to change and loved by his father, Talia brings a black pearl to Damian. It supposedly contains the evil al Ghul side of her that she has left behind so that she can simply be the mother to her son. If Damian chooses, he can restore her memories and kill her. Or he can allow her the same chance at redemption which Batman gave him.

Patrick Gleason is killing this shit.

Damian goes to speak with Nobody and finds her watching news reports about the death of Batman. I suppose it finally had to be dealt with since Damian needs to go participate in the Robin War! Damian seems to shrug off the idea that his father is dead because he knows firsthand how fickle death is in comic books. Damian is a bit down on the whole Robin thing at this point but Nobody has never believed in Robin more (even though he did kill her father. I mean, her father was kind of a jerk so she can probably forgive him). Damian has done good even if he doesn't want to acknowledge it because it might take away from his need to keep striving for redemption. But he saved Goliath. And he saved his brothers. And now he has the chance to save Nobody and his mother and maybe even his father too.

Okay, now Patrick is making me cry without using animals. Jerk.

For Damian to truly understand the idea of Jesus's rebuke to those willing to cast stones shows real maturity. It's not about punishment and being above sin. It's about second chances and redemption. Who has the right to take away somebody else's chance to make good on past evil? Damian could easily have been treated in the same way. It's an even more mature reason for not killing than Batman's usual reason for not wanting to become the thing he hates. You don't kill because you aren't the one who should determine that somebody is beyond redemption.

This train of thought always brings me back to The Lord of the Rings and how Bilbo has the strength to let Gollum live. And later when Gandalf tells Frodo that nobody has the ability to give life back to the dead, so why should they presume to think they have the right to end somebody's life? And how, in the end, Gollum is needed to destroy the ring. Yes, it's ultimately an accident. But without Gollum, Frodo would not have chosen to destroy the ring. It's grip was too powerful in the end. It isn't quite a story of redemption but it's an interesting take on pity and condemning others to death.

I think it's time to stop being surprised at how well Patrick Gleason is writing this book and just accept that, at this point, he's the fucking man to write Damian.

The next day, Maya is about ready to set off to look for her mother. Damian is headed back to Gotham. And Goliath...I guess Goliath gets to choose because Damian sets him free. He chooses to remain behind with Ravi. I'm sure they'll all get back together after the Robin War is over. Damian leaves a note with Ravi to give to his mother in the arena where they were supposed to battle the next day. And then he's off to Gotham.

Damian also gives the pearl back to Talia along with the note. He's decided to let her choose her path rather than decide it for her. I'm not sure what she's choosing but she seems to have an army waiting for her in the arena the next day. Was she going to have Damian battle them all? Or is she just preparing to battle Den Darga? I guess that's the question, right?

Robin, Son of Batman #6 Rating: +3 Ranking. This comic may not be at the extreme top of my comic book rankings but after this issue, it's up there with Grayson and The Omega Men as one of my favorites. Patrick Gleason is writing the fucking hell out of Damian and telling the story Damian needed outside of his life with Batman. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Gleason has taken Batman and Robin, one of my consistently favorite original New 52 books, and continued the quality of that series, if he hasn't actually raised it by a few notches. I can't say anything better about this book than that it made me cry at least twice while reading this issue. Usually that would mean I'd call Gleason an asshole because I have a problem dealing with emotions but I'll let him off the hook this time and just say, "Thank you, Pat!" Great fucking book.

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