Images & Words – Batman and Robin #16

[images & words is the comic book pick-of-the-week at OL. equal parts review and diatribe, the post highlights the most memorable/infuriating/entertaining book released that wednesday]

Nuclear threats. Satanic rituals. Daddy issues. Drug binges. Time travel. Ass-kickings.

No, I’m not calculating the formula for a Megadeth record, I’m listing some of the shenanigans that appear in Batman and Robin #16. Grant Morrison concludes his duties on the title by bringing Bruce Wayne back from the dead (or temporal instability, but same difference) and making unprecedented changes to the Bat-mythos. It’s fuggin’ wonderful.

Before I get to any of the comics deeper implications, let’s hit up the plot. So Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne have been running around as Batman and Robin, respectively. They’ve been trying to fight off Dr. Hurt and all of the malarkey he’s been unleashing on Gotham. An uneasy alliance has been formed with the Joker, who wants to take down Hurt but has also been kind enough to leave a nuke in the Bat-Bunker. Just when all seems lost, Bruce Wayne rolls up in a Delorean.

Brucie is the same gruff badass with a heart of gold that we’ve all come to know and love. His first words upon his epic return? “Is that Damian in a Robin costume?” The Terrifying Trio then proceed to unleash a beatdown the likes of which has never been seen in the DC Universe. I have no doubt in my mind that the Wayne/Grayson/Wayne triumvirate could take down the entire Justice League of America.

Hrm. Maybe not. But they could definitely take down the Justice League of Europe.

Bruce Wayne goes after Dr. Hurt while the two kids thwart the plans of Professor Pyg — my new favorite member of the rogues gallery. Needless to say, the villainous plans are foiled, Gotham is saved, and the heroes live to fight another day. Even in its own right Batman and Robin #16 is a carnival ride of words and pictures.

However, the comic also helps to develop new chapters in the seventy-one year-old narrative of Batman. The most obvious expansion comes in the formation of Batman, Inc. Bruce Wayne has announced that Wayne Enterprises will be funding Batman’s global war against crime (hiding in plain sight…clever girl). Now instead of one Batman, we’re going to get a whole slew of `em.

This allows for Batman to be Batman, Robin to be Batman, Batman’s kid to be Robin, and this dude to remain irrelevant! Everyone wins!

Seriously, though, I think it’ll be interesting to see what types of sick Batmen start patrolling their respective streets. Sure, the idea of a Bat-brigade has been done before but I have faith that Morrison will cook up some new novel twists.

The other intriguing question raised that Morrison has raised over the last few years and highlighted in Batman and Robin pertains to the identity of Dr. Hurt. Could he actually be Bruce Wayne’s father? Is he perhaps a satanic ancestor of Bruce’s who has defied or mortality? Or, as strongly suggested, could he be the Devil himself?

I’m content with not knowing — I’m one of those assholes who thinks the fun is found in thinking about a narrative, not getting concrete answers.

But if you happen to have a theory, clue me in!

If you have even a fleeting interest in Batman, you owe it to yourself to snag Batman and Robin #16 (and the preceding fifteen issues). With Cameron Stewart, Chris Burnham & Frazier Irving illustrating a Grant Morrison story, you won’t be disappointed.