Batman & Robin #12 - The jakob187 Review
Despite the fact that we're in the midst of Bruce Wayne's return, Dick Grayson remains the titular Batman and Grant Morrison delivers one hell of a great issue. You can tell that he's enjoying this story and working to make it one of the year's stellar feats in the DC Universe.
When we last left off, Dick was traveling through tunnels to find himself at the brunt end of a beatdowm from Damian, who is being mind-controlled by Slade Wilson via implants that Talia made in Damian. Picking up right where #11 left off, we see Batman and Robin overcome Slade, which leads to clues being pieced together from the big mystery. What's the big mystery?
One of the big questions since issue #10 has been "who is Oberon Sexton", and we get that reveal. Twist ending? No, twists are for M. Night Shyamalan. This is an outright mindf&*#, and not only is it quite unexpected, but it makes me feel like I need to go back and re-read all of the previous Batman and Robin issues...as well as a handful of other Bat-books...in order to wrap my head around this reveal. Needless to say, Sexton turns out to be a character that we ALL know well in the Batman universe.
Morrison's writing is pretty top-notch in here, especially in the small exchange between Damian and Talia, as Damian shows his true colors and makes a major decision that will greatly affect his future. Dick pays Slade a visit for a short second, and to be honest, I would like to see a bit more tete-a-tete between those two. There are still unresolved issues there. The reveal of Sexton's identity threw a big monkey wrench into the end, slowing things down significantly and making you step back to say "WTF" while also pumping up your adrenaline to see how this all plays out.
Andy Clarke's art, on the other hand, is a bit hit-and-miss. There are still plenty of panels with Talia and Slade that just don't look right. There were also at least two times that I felt Batman didn't look right either. Clarke's work on Damian/Robin and Dick out of the outfit, however, are pretty well done. The big complaint about art doesn't go to Clarke in this issue, but rather to...of all people...Frank Quietly for his ridiculous-looking Batman on the standard front cover. How bad is it? I wish my local shop had a variant cover laying around. It would've been worth the six bucks. Part of me wants to think that Quietly used this as an opportunity to slightly emulate the "poor anatomy" that Clarke has been criticized for with Talia and Slade in this arc...but I just don't think that's the case. The blue and yellow colors in the background also don't mesh very well. It's just odd to see this kind of poor artwork from Frank. Lay off the scotch?
Overall, this was an enjoyable issue because of Morrison's writing. The way he is setting up the greater story arc of Bruce Wayne's return is a doozy, and by the end, you should know how a crack fiend feels: addicted, needing more, and grasping for the next issue.