There are two parts to “Batman and Robin” #35; one where Batman’s kicking butt and taking names on Darkseid’s distant world of Apokolips, and one where Batman’s friends and allies do their best to find a way to follow him to Apokolips and assist Batman in bringing Damian’s body home. And while if the book had just focused on one half or the other, it might have felt like a drag. By dancing back and forth between the two, Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray keep the comic lively and exciting.
On some level, it’s the Apokolips portion that is the less entertaining of the two. Tomasi and Gleason show Batman plowing through parademons while Kalibak prepares his plans to show how he is worthy of being Darkseid’s son. Simply on a plotting level, it’s not got too much to offer. At the same time, though, Tomasi is clearly letting Gleason show off his chops on those pages, and as a result they deliver. When Batman goes up against the pit fiends on page 3, we them from his perspective, looming up and around while firing their weapons. Compare that to the top of the next page, as Batman hauls one of them up into the air with a single hand. Batman’s form dominates the page, energy just ripping off of him and his special suit. The little details look great too, like the swirling edges of Batman’s cloak when he goes a little mano-a-mano, or the bits of spittle flying out of Kalibak’s mouth as he screams.
The sections back on Earth aren’t quite so energetic, but having Nightwing, Batgirl and the Red Hood teaming up to both find a way to Apokolips and also protect Gotham City in their absence is entertaining. The three have a fun rapport with one another, and their recruitment of a familiar crime-fighter that operates in Gotham takes just the right amount of time to get in and out. If Batman is the muscle in this story, then his former sidekicks are the heart and soul. It’s a good balance.
“Batman and Robin” #35 is giving us the sort of storyline where it’s almost in your best interest to not look ahead in the solicitations to see just how far it’s running. Tomasi ups the ante at the end of this issue by making Batman’s mission more than just a personal one, and it will be fun to see just how far it goes (both in threat level and just in terms of chapters) before it comes to a conclusion. Right now, though, just sit back, relax and watch the mayhem begin.