jonesdeini's Batman and Robin #21 - Dark Knight vs. White Knight, Part 2 of 3: Tree of Blood review

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Batman and Robin #21

Dr. Langstrom's insane rantings from last issue begin to make sense. Dick and Damian have their first confrontation with the White Knight. And the method to the White Knight's madness is revealed. 
The Good 
This week's cover is leaps and bounds better than last issue's saltless cracker offerings.  
Gleason's Artwork is nearly flawless this issue and really brings Tomasi's excellent script to life. The image of Dr. Langstrom's family angelically garbed is truly unnerving. Especially the close up of Francine's face as White Knight's grotesque gospel floods her mind. I very much like Gleason's design of White Knight, totally opposite of what I expected. When I heard about this villain in the solicits I immediately imagined a man in a white Batman type suit, something similar to Millar's Nemesis. But Gleason has one hell of a pitching arm and throws a mean curve ball. The last thing I expected to see when this guy finally made his appearance was a seemingly nude being made of pure light. Even this guy's blood glows...truly creepy. And the crime scene panels with Dick, Damian and Gordon have a very "Seven" vibe to them. 
Damian's very willful and doesn't take too kindly to criticism. He's not the kind of person who responds well to being actively guided by the will of another, which is understandable considering his breeding. That being the case, I like the way that Dick allows Damian to learn on the go. He lets Damian work through the clues of this case himself and build a profile of White Knight. It's no secret that I'm not a fan of Damian, but I like the way that Tomasi depicts him. For every moment that we wish Dick would kick him off a rooftop, there's one that shows that he's got the potential to be a decent human being under all the pretense and posturing. Damian's reaction to White Knight's victimization of children was nice to see. 
I absolutely love the villain of this arc. I'm extremely pleased that Tomasi didn't reuse one of Bruce's iconic rogues and invented a unique and intriguing enemy for Dick to tango with. White Knight's my kind of villain, that is to say he's bat crap cuckoo, but in the best way possible. As Dick, Damian, and Alfred piece together the clues gathered from his victims you really get a good idea of what kind of man we're dealing with here. His modus operandi is highly disturbing. Drugging his victims and then having them listen to his "sermons" which coax them into committing suicide. It's made all the more disconcerting when we see his dedication to his endeavors. The man hours it takes him to make one set of wings is astounding and reveals his deep obsession. He views his actions as a holy calling, he truly believes he is bringing salvation to his victims, cleansing them of their bad blood. His zealotry and levitical philosophy truly intrigued me.      
The Bad 
That accursed logo is to forever haunt me, eh? 
 While I'm very much a fan of Gleason's artwork, especially this issue, there were moments where it dipped in quality. But these moments are sparse and only stand out due to the overall excellence of his pencils.  
Dick outside of costume looks too much like Bruce to me, which isn't a huge issue considering most of this issue takes place with the dynamic duo in full gear. 
The Verdict 
Tomasi's strong characterization of Dick Grayson is a joy to read. His fair and balanced take on Damian makes a character I don't like tolerable. His flawless portrayal of their supporting cast brings back fond memories of Batman The Animated Series. His villain is intriguing and unique. What's not to like here? It's issues like this which make me wish for creative teams to never leave a title. Can't wait for the conclusion to this arc that has so far defied my high expectations.   

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