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And the Punchline Is…

June 19, 2010

The battle between partners concludes in Batman and Robin #12, though things don’t seem to be going well at first.  Under Deathstroke’s control, Robin continues to attack Batman.  Because of the intensity of the neural link, when Batman attacks Robin back, Deathstroke feels it.  Oberon Sexton notes that more of El Penitente’s thugs have arrived, and Dick uses electric knuckles to zap Deathstroke through the link.  Deathstroke’s enhanced senses are hurting him, unfortunately for him,a nd he removes the link.  Alfred Pennyworth uses the Batwing’s water cannon, forcing El Penitente’s men to flee, though they successfully get the casket that one of Bruce Wayne’s ancestors was holding in his portrait.  Later, Dick tells Alfred about a hallucination about a giant bat, and Alfred shows him that the grounds form one giant bat symbol.  Dick and Damian then head over to visit Talia al Ghul.  Damian decides to talk with his mother alone, and Dick takes this opportunity to smack Deathstroke a bit for what he did in Bludhaven.  Damian tells his mother that he has chosen to be Robin and that he doesn’t want his mother to control him anymore.  Talia responds by showing him another him, made from the same DNA, and she tells him that he cannot love Damian for who he is.  However, she lets him leave, calling him now an enemy of the al Ghuls.  Elsewhere, El Penitente/Dr. Simon Hurt is on a train into Gotham City with the last remaining member of the Black Glove, who cryptically talks about the person who has been killing the other members.  Dick, Damian, and Alfred check out the secret Batcave and see some kind of Batman cape on the wall.  The three of them realize that there’s some kind of connection between everything, and Dick heads off to meet Sexton to verify his last hunch.  He then points out that all the Domino Killer’s attacks had something in common.  They’re all jokes.  And Sexton takes off his mask, revealing his true identity… the Joker.

Well, that was indeed a nice twist at the end.  Sexton had to be either Bruce or the Joker, and it does make sense that it’s the latter.  After all, Sexton wore gloves and a suit that covered every inch of his skin.  The Joker’s pale white skin would have been instantly noticeable, so the leper/disease thing was a good disguise.  And now we can guess that Dr. Hurt knew who the Joker really was and was blackmailing him to kill Batman over his identity.  It all makes sense.  And as the Return of Bruce Wayne rolls on, all the clues in this story also make some sense.  Grant Morrison is really crafting a rather crazy epic with Batman, and even though I find some of its… supernaturalness a tad strange for Batman, I can’t help but enjoy it.  I’m also glad to see how Damian has grown, since otherwise, he’d just be an annoying brat who can fight.  Not that I didn’t expect Morrison to treat his own creation well, but there are writers who would do otherwise.  Andy Clarke’s art is still really quite good, though I maintain that it’s largely just a lesser version of Frank Quitely’s.  I know, I can’t believe I miss Quitely, but absence makes the heart grow fonder.  His Talia al Ghul needs some work, since her eyes occasionally just look ridiculous.  Her eyelashes are pretty crazy too.  Maybe he’s just not as good at drawing women as he is men.  Still, he did draw a pretty cool Joker in the end.  And I can’t help but notice that the Joker seems to be missing that bullet hole in his head.  And are his lips back?  I’m not sure.  Anyway, there’s a whole lot of craziness coming up soon, with the fight with the Joker and Dr. Simon Hurt, and the return of Bruce Wayne on the horizon.  I just hope Dick and Damian can stay as Batman and Robin as long as possible.  Naturally, I love classic Batman, but these two make a great dynamic duo.

Plot: 8.9      Art: 8.9      Dialogue: 8.8      Overall: 8.9

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