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Batman and Robin #15 - Little Big Man

4

Robin faces the Joker and Batman won't be there to save him...

The Good

If you were able to catch the preview to BATMAN AND ROBIN #15 in the interview with the series' writer Peter Tomasi posted to the site earlier this week, you may have noticed that the fifth page of the preview ends with a serious cliff-hanger. Whoever decided to release those five pages prior to the release of this issue did their marketing homework; after having seen those preview pages I absolutely could not wait to pick up this comic. I am happy to say that I was not disappointed.

Now, this review will be as spoiler-free as possible, so I won't say whether Alfred dies in this issue or not (although I am sure you can guess), but I will say that regardless of who dies, the scene and the moment is still really very powerful. We're dealing with the Joker, and when you have the same adversary appear in each issue of each Bat-family title, you have to be able to write the character in a way that won't make fans sick of him. Tomasi does this here, he manages to really capture all the elements that make the Joker despicable. He's grotesque and sick in the head, and his characterization shines through.

The moments that take place in this issue are significant because it is yet another scene where the Joker meets a Robin. The Joker's relationship to Robin's of the past is almost as equally significant as his relationship to Batman, and I think Tomasi manages to really capture the significance of that in this issue. We saw some foreshadowing of this in issue #14 when Batman indicated a certain level of fear in regards to the character

The incredible thing to me was the way Tomasi tip-toes between naivety and bravery when it comes to Damian's interaction with the Joker. In the most recent issues of Batman we've seen Bruce demonstrate a certain amount of fear. The Joker, to him, is an incredibly formidable opponent. Batman fears the Joker in a way because he isn't always so predictable. He is always one step ahead of Batman. Damian doesn't show that same fear. Instead, the ten-year old Robin is hard-headed and stubborn, not only when he and Batman are talking about the Joker, but in the scenes where Damian is at a disadvantage and is faced with the Joker as a threat head-on. The consistency in the way these writers are writing the character is perfect. Tomasi does a great job writing the Joker's interaction with Damian.

The Bad

I think my one complaint with this issue is the way it ends. Although the art is fantastic and the writing is on point, those last final pages in this issue are rather confusing. The story definitely takes a turn, but it doesn't really make sense. Or at least it is unclear what is going on.

One other problem is with some of the Joker's dialogue. The premise of 'Death of the Family' has been that the Joker wants to eliminate the Bat-family characters so that he can get all of Batman's attention. I think having that theme underline the overall story in this issue is great, but there is one scene where the Joker spells it all out for the reader. I don't know if that was necessary and I think that it may have worked better had the character's continued to allude to that theme. It felt like a very cliche cop versus robber type of a moment where the villain reveals his motives to the hero right before the climactic scene. It took away from the story a little bit and there may have been better ways to convey that same theme/premise without spelling it out.

The Verdict

There was so much I enjoyed about this issue that I didn't even make a mention of the art which is just breathtaking. Artists Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray and John Kalisz deliver an absolutely stunning issue. Their attention to detail and the colors they choose to convey the dark and dreariness of the scenes are superb. The issue is great, especially if you're a big fan of Damian Wayne. Damian really shines in this issue and we see that even in the face of fear, he doesn't back down; I think Tomasi does a great job with his characterization and he definitely writes in a way that will leave you wanting more. I am definitly looking forward to the next issue!

32 Comments

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gotwillpower

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Edited By gotwillpower

Yeah, that last page made me really confused. It's as if this issue should take place after Batman #16, which hasn't been released yet.

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zackattack529

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Edited By zackattack529

Isn't that the point of the ending, to give you some confusion so that you'll come back to the next issue, buy it, looking for answers??

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k4tzm4n

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Edited By k4tzm4n  Moderator

Really excited to read this one. Despite not being the biggest fan of the last few arcs, there's just something about this title that lures me in.

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gmanfromheck

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Edited By gmanfromheck

I loved the reference to Damian and Joker's last encounter in the previous pre-New 52 volume of BnR.

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Vulshock

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Edited By Vulshock

In my opinion this is the best tie-in so far. Some of the things Joker did were brutal.

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BatWatch

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Edited By BatWatch

I'm with you 100% on your praises of this issue, but I'm not on board with your critiques. I thought the turn at the end was great, and there are several explanations for what might be happening. (including delusion) I am actually quite excited about that end scene.

On the flip side, there were some odd choices such as having a giant egg featured prominently in a scene. What the heck?

In short, I really loved the interaction between Joker and Damian, but the set piece (the egg and other elements) was a bit awkward and distracted from the story.

The BatWatch Review is up.

@gotwillpower said:

Yeah, that last page made me really confused. It's as if this issue should take place after Batman #16, which hasn't been released yet.

It could be that it is a delusion. Damian is drugged. It could also be at a different point in the story. It could also be just someone else in a Bat Suit. There are lots of possibilities

@k4tzm4n said:

Really excited to read this one. Despite not being the biggest fan of the last few arcs, there's just something about this title that lures me in.

It's especially important if Damian is the one to bite the dust as some evidence suggests.

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Mucklefluga

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Edited By Mucklefluga

Seems like Damian is written perfectly and Damian is one of my favourite characters! May have to pick this up.

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Booster_Bronze

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Edited By Booster_Bronze

The things Joker did with his face in this issue were the most disturbing to me. It's like he's a horror movie version of that movie Face/Off.

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ccraft

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Edited By ccraft

I loved this issue, it was so funny, and the art was awesome.

The Robin and Bat thing was hilarious!

five stars for me!

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gotwillpower

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Edited By gotwillpower

@BatWatch:

Yeah, the best way for it to make sense is if it's a delusion or dress-up. I also saw a Nightwing preview (#15 and #16 on comicbookmovie.com) in black and white where it looks like some people got turned into something like Batman at the end of this issue. Are they Joker henchmen? I can't even tell.

Edit:@ccraft said:

I loved this issue, it was so funny, and the art was awesome.

The Robin and Bat thing was hilarious!

five stars for me!

I liked that too! It seems like Joker is funnier than ever in this arc.

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ccraft

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Edited By ccraft

@gotwillpower: Yes, twisted and funny! btw is the user rating for the review or the issue?

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bob808

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Edited By bob808

I loved the ending of this issue

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longbowhunter

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Edited By longbowhunter

I really liked Joker bringing up the eclipse from a few issues back. Making the comparison that the family were like the darkness blocking Batman's light was a bit on the nose but I thought it read really well. Not sure how I feel about the ending. Have to see how next issue plays out.

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zachkastner

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Edited By zachkastner

This issue is so... dirty. The art is dark and twisted. Man, I read this over dinner. Not the best choice.

A solid 4.5/5 from me. That last page did sort of leave me scratching my head with it's relation to both Batman 15 and next months Batman 16

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caen2911

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Edited By caen2911

As pointed out already, the Joker refers to the scene in the initial Morrison run of BnR, where Damian and Joker are in the cell, and there's a crowbar and poisoned fingernails, yada yada yada. So, okay, we're saying that that happened (and it's been established that Dick had been Batman for a bit, also tying into Morrison's run). However the BIG reveal of this Death of the Family event so far is that the Joker knows who Bat-family really is(!), secret identity's and whatnot. However, ALSO in Grants story, we had a little known arc called R.I.P. where the Joker CLEARLY saw who Batman was, along with a few others, and didn't even care. So, to me, it seems as if the editors are either being lazy or cherry-picking from this weird pseudo-pre-52-continuity thing that's going on, or both. And given that Grant is still doing Batman, Inc pretty much along the lines he always meant to before the reboot, I'd say that DC and Snyder dropped the ball here with this event, insofar as playing it all off of the, "OMFG THE JOKER KNOWS WHO WE ARE!" hook. Snyder's take on the creepiness and mind games and twisted relationship between Joker and Batman and the rest is great! Don't get me wrong. I'm just hung up on a glaring editorial flaw that's been happening in the Bat pages, and this issue highlighted it. ok.

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r3d_rob1n

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Edited By r3d_rob1n

@caen2911: The Joker does not necessarily know who Batman is or who the members of the family are. Batman has been preaching this entire arc that Joker is trying to mess with their heads and, unlike the rest of the Batfamily, I am prepared to trust Bruce on this one. He is rarely wrong.

Personally, I don't think Joker cares who is behind the mask, so it could be that he ignored that moment in RIP or his psychotic brain chose to bury it away in his memories.

This issue was great though. I enjoyed the first arc with Nobody a lot, but then I fell off the book after the Terminus run. Luckily I picked this up for the Death of the Family crossover, so hopefully the stories can return to old form. I hated him when he was first introduced, but Damian is really growing on me. Hopefully they don't off him like some people have predicted.

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ScarletBatman

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Edited By ScarletBatman

@caen2911: They're simply cherry picking the best stories from the past and keeping them in the New 52 Continuity. They could easily have kept the story you are referencing and simply changed that one part. Plus, as r3d_rob1n stated, the Joker could easily have forgotten the event (I mean he did cut his face off and is well known for taking heavy blows to his head).

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darkwingdan

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Edited By darkwingdan
I think my one complaint with this issue is the way it ends. Although the art is fantastic and the writing is on point, those last final pages in this issue are rather confusing. The story definitely takes a turn, but it doesn't really make sense. Or at least it is unclear what is going on.

I have to agree with Sara on this. I was really enjoying this issue until the final couple of pages. The issue had this tension building up, but the payoff / cliffhanger rang hollow for me. Actually, to be frank, I thought the last page was just plain stupid (just my opinion), which is a real shame. If the issue had ended a page or two earlier I would have given this a 5 for sure.

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frankcmu

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Edited By frankcmu

@G-Man: I was thinking the same thing :D

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ccraft

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Edited By ccraft

@r3d_rob1n: I would disagree, I think that Batman is trying to deny the fact that Joker does know. If the Joker didnt know, he wouldnt be attacking everyone of the bat family in their on titles. The joker also boasted that hes been in each of their houses. I could be wrong, I think it could go either way.

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r3d_rob1n

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Edited By r3d_rob1n

@ccraft: I just think that this was revealed far too early in the story for it to be true. My gut tells me that there are more twists out there, and I think him knowing the identities is one of those changes.

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JohnnyGat

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Edited By JohnnyGat

Loved the way Joker played with the bat, the robin, and his face.

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DChero

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Edited By DChero

i thought i was gonna stop picking up batman and robin after the terminus arc but i decided to give this book a shot and boy did i love it. Im not sure if i agree with the critique on the last couple of pages. i was confused but that just makes me want to see what is gonna happen next. I dont think that should lower the grade at all. Just makes me more excited for the next issue. Definitely cant wait to see what happens next.

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namtabmi

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Edited By namtabmi

@ccraft said:

I loved this issue, it was so funny, and the art was awesome.

The Robin and Bat thing was hilarious!

five stars for me!

THIS! (*spoiler block)

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YourNeighborhoodComicGeek

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@namtabmi said:

@ccraft said:

I loved this issue, it was so funny, and the art was awesome.

The Robin and Bat thing was hilarious!

five stars for me!

THIS! (*spoiler block)

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entropy_aegis

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Edited By entropy_aegis

Man the Joker was grotesque here,this and Suicide Squad were a treat for those love gore.

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BatWatch

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Edited By BatWatch

@gotwillpower said:

@BatWatch:

Yeah, the best way for it to make sense is if it's a delusion or dress-up. I also saw a Nightwing preview (#15 and #16 on comicbookmovie.com) in black and white where it looks like some people got turned into something like Batman at the end of this issue. Are they Joker henchmen? I can't even tell.

Edit:@ccraft said:

I loved this issue, it was so funny, and the art was awesome.

The Robin and Bat thing was hilarious!

five stars for me!

I liked that too! It seems like Joker is funnier than ever in this arc.

Huh. Weird.

I think somebody else in a Bat costume is definitely the way to go, but it would be interesting if it was still somebody Damian had a connection with. Dick maybe...but of course that would hinge on a lot of things. I don't know. Just throwing out ideas.

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HubrisRanger

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Edited By HubrisRanger

Surprised no one has mentioned the truly chilling reference to Killing Joke in here:

‎"But the Bat--yes--I made him laugh without the push--just once--in the gaudy rain--before the cherry tops came--we laughed and laughed as the merry-go-round squealed and the painted wooden horses glared at us--ah, good times."

Such an iconic moment, and it's refreshing to see it called back to and referenced as a significant event in the Joker's life as well; it's like he's constantly trying to get back to that one moment, which adds shades to the fact that the moment itself is stuck in the timeless, infinite loop that is Killing Joke.

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somatics

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Edited By somatics

@HubrisRanger said:

Surprised no one has mentioned the truly chilling reference to Killing Joke in here:

‎"But the Bat--yes--I made him laugh without the push--just once--in the gaudy rain--before the cherry tops came--we laughed and laughed as the merry-go-round squealed and the painted wooden horses glared at us--ah, good times."

Such an iconic moment, and it's refreshing to see it called back to and referenced as a significant event in the Joker's life as well; it's like he's constantly trying to get back to that one moment, which adds shades to the fact that the moment itself is stuck in the timeless, infinite loop that is Killing Joke.

100% Agree with this comment.

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Azrael66

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Edited By Azrael66

Awesome issue. Joker looked downright creepy. I guess Capullo is not the only one who can pull off New Joker.

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batnight

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Edited By batnight

Just re-read this issue and i love how twisted joker is in this...Greatest villian of all time!

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reignmaker

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Edited By reignmaker

My favorite tie-in issue so far. I know a lot of people hate Damian, but I have to say this issue rightly points out that he was the only one who wasn't b**ching at Batman in Batman #15. And frankly, I got annoyed with the other characters who did that.

The dialogue in here was awesome. Really made me wish I picked up this book instead of Detective in the early going.