Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller (pgs. 1-15): Patrick Gleason
Artist (pgs. 16-20): Tomas Giorello
Cover by: Patrick Gleason
Release Date: October 10, 2012
Official DC Comics Synopsis:
- Gotham City is being devoured by zombies
- Learn the dangerous secrets of the 2-Club!
Review by: Danny Nettleton
If I could describe this issue in one word it would be: “uneven.” Everything about this issue from the plot to the art direction is decidedly uneven. It might have functioned better as two different stories with separate artists but instead it stood as one convoluted and tonally lopsided story about Batman, Robin, and a horde of zombies.
The issue starts out great with a neat scene between Batman and Damian. Batman wakes his sun up early to take him out on the bat-plane to see an eclipse from outer-space. These panels were beautifully rendered by Patrick Gleason, with no small help from John Kalisz’ warm color palate, and Peter J. Tomasi gives Bruce and Damian some touching dialogue. Damian works the courage to ask his father if he ever loved his mother, Talia. Bruce tells him that there was a brief shining moment in which he did and the scene ends with Damian thanking Bruce for sharing this trip with him. Unfortunately, this was the highlight of the whole issue. As the bat-plane descends, so does the plot.
It has long been my frustration with Tomasi’s writing that he is so capable of producing these great revealing moments between Batman and Damian, as well as with Damian and the other Robins, yet he seems unable to create a villain or challenge (with the possible exception of the “Nobody” story arc earlier in the New 52) worthy of these wonderfully wrought characters. This problem, unlike the lack of gore in Jane Austen novels, is not one best solved with the addition of zombies. I’m not a zombie hater. A special Halloween one-shot where Batman and Robin fought some Gotham zombies only to discover they were normal criminals that Scarecrow had given special bath salts might have been welcome. But an extended story arc (so soon after the Talons, no less) revolving around a mysterious cult and Gotham’s undead does not seem promising.
Of course, Batman and Robin return to Gotham to discover an apparent uprising of zombies. Of course, Bruce tells Damian to stay in the Bat Cave while he investigates. Of course, Damian disobeys and takes off on a motorcycle to take care of some business of his own and, of course, the issue ends with Robin being overcome by a mindless mob of zombies. Somewhere in there is an awesome, if not somewhat inexplicable, scene of Damian fighting a large sewer monster. Talia has put a hit on Damian and the monster has tracked him down to collect. If you think no mother would do such a thing, you’ve never heard of Talia Al Ghul! This scene, cool as it is, doesn’t really feel like it belongs and that just contributes to the overall unevenness of this issue.
The art, too, is uneven. I realize it is difficult to put out a 20 page comic every month and inevitably from time to time a penciller is unable to finish. That being said, it really takes me out of the book when the art team changes so dramatically half way through. Patrick Gleason and Thomas Giorello are both great artists but their styles are very different to the point where the change is dramatic and jarring. The book switches not just from ink cross hatching to soft pencil shading, but to a totally different set of character interpretations. Robin seems to have emerged from the sewer having completely gone through puberty!
All in all, whether you buy this issue or not may come down to your position on the all important subject of zombies. If you love zombies, buy this issue. If not, save your money for Death of the Family!