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A Slave to His Mother

May 14, 2010

Grant Morrison’s latest Batman story continues with Batman and Robin #11, which begins in Mexico.  There, El Penitente has flayed his back in the shape of a W, and a priest absolves him of all sins.  So now, he can go home to Gotham City and commit new atrocities.  Did I mention that he is Dr. Simon Hurt, leader of the Black Glove?  Anyway, as Batman continues to investigate the hidden Batcave, which features paint a year old, Alfred Pennyworth notes Oberon Sexton and Robin facing off against the goons in the graveyard.  Sexton proves himself an able combatant, but Robin still notes that something’s off with him.  Elsewhere, Talia al Ghul is controlling him with some kind of spinal link technology (since she had something installed in his new spine).  However, she hands the tech off to someone else.  Batman runs through the hidden Batcave and finds a stalactite carved into a half human, half bat person called Barbatos.  Apparently said devil-bat was worshipped by that guy Thomas Wayne back in the 1700s.  Isn’t that Bruce Wayne’s father’s name?  Sexton and Robin beat El Penitente’s thugs, and Robin wonders if Sexton is really Bruce, since his accent is fake.  Sexton finds another domino piece, but just then, Robin is controlled again and beats up both Sexton and Batman, who just arrives back on the surface.  And the shadowy person is Deathstroke, wanting his final revenge on Dick Grayson.

This fourth arc is just as awesome as the first arc that made me and so many others fall in love with Batman and Robin.  There’s obviously all these clues and symbols that will make a lot more sense when the Return of Batman and other tie-ins come to fruition, and it’s just indicating how skilled Grant Morrison is at crafting so complex a story.  The multiple sides, with El Penitente/Dr. Simon Hurt, Oberon Sexton, Talia al Ghul and Deathstroke, and then Batman and Robin, just makes this story even crazier.  There are so many things unclear, as to who Hurt and Sexton really are, and what’s with all that hidden Batcave stuff, and the mystery just makes me want more, even if it will involve all that silly time travel stuff.  The whole issue is just so great, even though it seems so ridiculously crazy, bouncing back and forth between scenes.  Andy Clarke’s art is still really good, even if he’s not quite as great as Frank Quitely.  He does do a great action scene, just in a different way than other artists.  Instead of everything been kinetic and fast-paced, each of his fight panels seem like a moment frozen in time.  It actually works rather well in this issue, so I’m not complaining.  In the end, I think I can safely say that, despite the silliness of Morrison’s time travel and all that, everything else is so cool, and the story is written so well that I don’t mind.  The Return of Bruce Wayne is coming up, but even before then, we’re going to get some awesome reveals.  Plus, we’ve got Deathstroke.  Who doesn’t love Deathstroke?

Plot: 9.0      Art: 9.0      Dialogue: 9.0      Overall: 9.0

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