Batman and Robin #16
This issue had everything. We finally find out who and what Dr. Hurt is. Bruce Wayne returns and the first words out of his mouth are both pitch perfect and hilarious. Damian really steps up and becomes a real hero for arguably the first time in his existence, and he does so with a sense of duty and familial loyalty that one might think there is hope for the little sociopath after all.
Now, the final reveal of the new status quo comes at the end of the issue, but the entirety of the book leads up to it. We see Bruce Wayne as a proud father figure who actually puts his trust in his sons to save the day (and they do). This is some true growth from the paranoid and distrusting Bruce Wayne which has been one of the main personifications of the character since the JLA Tower of Babel storyline to Green Lantern: Rebirth and on.
I actually would have been interested to see a mini-series of the Joker in his newly self-proposed status quo but Batman lets him know he’s back in typical Batman fashion(ONE PUNCH!).
Cameron Stewart gives us a great fight scene with two Batmen and two Robins(yes, Dick counts as both). A really nice touch is that Stewart shows off a significant difference in Dick and Bruce’s physiques while in their batsuits. Grayson’s acrobatic musculature has never been rendered so well.
Chris Burnham delivers a brutal fight scene between Batman and his adversary and an image of Commissioner Gordon that will likely stay with fans for the rest of their lives. His style brings to mind a cross between Scottish Superstar Frank Quitely and Spanish Sensation Juan Jose Ryp. I don’t know if he’s a new talent or an old hand, but I cannot wait to see more of his work.
Frazer Irving delivers the last of his work on the title, and it is a spectacular showing. Here, he handles the fight between Batman(Dick Grayson) and Robin with Professor Pyg, the Joker’s coup de grace, and the finale of the issue. There are a bunch of moments that I could pick as my favorite of his work from this issue, but it is the simple and joyous smile of Bruce Wayne looking proudly at his sons as he declares, “Batman and Robin will never die.
The issue was, in a word, fantastic. The pacing, the story, the dialogue, and art, all came together to make the Grant Morrison’s swan song on this title (and transfer to Batman Incorporated) the best experience it could be.