“Batman and Robin” #7 is a magnificent a read. Peter J. Tomasi writes a strong story and provides Bruce Wayne with a worthy adversary in the form of Nobody.
Nobody is haunting Batman’s past while trying to steal his future in the form of Damian. Throughout the story, it seemed as though Nobody truly could succeed in this quest, if not in claiming Damian as his own apprentice than ensuring Damian never sees his father again. This story began during the September relaunch, but Tomasi hasn’t dragged it out unnecessarily. The writer has built Nobody into a credible threat with the very real possibility of stealing Damian in one way or another. Last issue’s cliffhanger left Damian out of Bruce’s grasp as Nobody began to torture Robin while letting Batman hear it all through speakerphone.
This installment picks up from there and Batman’s anger and visceral reactions are revealed as he tries to save his son from the man who has now become his most bitter foe. Considering Batman has anger issues to begin with, Tomasi mixes in the furious rage a father would feel if his son were in mortal danger.
Patrick Gleason — with Mick Gray solidifying the shadows and lines and John Kalisz breathing fire all around Batman — seizes Tomasi’s ferocious Dark Knight and makes him all the more menacing. Gleason’s Batman is a rock, chiseled yet surprisingly lithe in battle, but steeped in shadow throughout the story. Batman’s extraordinary anger is best summed up on the splash page six pages into the comic as he rises from fiery wreckage, wrapped in his cape and directs a threat in Nobody’s direction. That single image is the most sinister depiction I can recall seeing of Batman. Astonishingly, Gleason, Gray, Kalisz and Pat Brosseau (on letters) manage to fill the page with an issue’s worth of emotion all without revealing a single line of expression on Batman’s face.
This story is the newer standard of twenty pages in length, in which Gleason draws six (four plus a double-page spread) splash pages. Additionally, several other pages are two-thirds splash, but through it all Gleason and Tomasi fill the pages with story. Many other creative teams would suffer from losing that much real estate to big moments, but even the smallest panel feels like a big moment in this story, making those splash pages even bigger. This issue ends with a predictably unpredictable splash page as Bruce and Damian are given a whole new set of problems to work through.