With Batman and Robin #7, we end the little lull that this title had with "not amazing artists," as Cameron Stewart joins the book for this story arc, and as you likely know by now, Cameron Stewart is amazing, and he helps make this a fun and good issue of Batman and Robin #7.
First off, how striking is that Quitely cover?
Very cool cover.
In any event, the gist of the story is that Dick Grayson is trying to resurrect Batman (at least the corpse that Dick - and everyone else - THINKS is Batman) through finding the last surviving Lazarus Pit.
The pit is hidden somewhere in England, so Dick, naturally, recruits the Knight and the Squire (the Batman and Robin of England) to help him in his task. Batwoman also gets involved.
Stewart opens up the issue with a thrilling action sequence, that I can show you a little bit of here...
Can you imagine how freeing it must be for the book's writer, Grant Morrison, to know he has an artist like Cam Stewart working with him on this sequence? Stewart is such an expert storyteller that the action is both dynamic AND perfectly simple for a reader to follow. That can often be a difficult proposition for an artist (be dynamic AND be clear), but Stewart achieves it easily.
The majority of the issue is Morrison engaging in his quite familiar by now routine of world-populating, where he has people refer to unseen characters to give the DC Universe a feel of a deep, fully populated world - a world where, whatever country you go to, you'll be likely to find outlandish heroes and villains. Here, Morrison takes the time to populate his England with a series of awesome-sounding characters, while Batman interacts with a few of them.
Morrison spends most of this issue on the aforementioned world-populating, although we also get a good sub-plot bit with Talia taking care of Damian (following his injuries last issue).
Finally, though, the set-up for next issue is endearing - we see Dick's reasoning for why it is worth trying to bring Bruce back from the dead, even as Batwoman tries to argue against the concept. It's a nice humanizing moment for Dick, who has been noteworthy since this series began AS being a "more human" Batman.
Of course, since we know this ISN'T Bruce's body, it will be very interesting to see who it is. Batwoman being kidnapped to be present at the "rebirth" suggests that it has something to do with the Religion of Crime, so it'll likely be something quite creepy.
The approach Morrison is taking in this issue is quite similar to his approach on Final Crisis, where he gives you a lot of little bits which, as the story goes on, coalesce into one big story.
You have a cool opening action sequence, you have the introduction of a whole other world of English heroes and villains, you have an intriguing sub-plot and you have a cool set-up for next issue (along with a cool guest-star), when we see exactly what comes out of the Lazarus Pit. By having all of these come at you in rapid succession, Morrison is attempting to give you a wider story by quickly focusing on a number of little stories. I liked the approach when he did it in Final Crisis, and I like it here, too.
And it's all done with great artwork by one of Morrison's best collaborators.
NOTE: You might have heard of the dialogue screw-up in the issue. Either a word balloon was switched or the art in the panel itself was reversed (the latter one is my guess), in any event, the end result is a panel where the dialogue is reversed...
It's too bad to have a mistake like that in a cool issue, but really, it's not like you can't pretty easily pick up what happened.
NOTE #2: It is kind of weird that this issue was pushed back because of Blackest Night. It really does not tie in with Blackest Night at all, and it certainly doesn't spoil the events of Blackest Night #6. So I don't get why it was pushed back, especially as the issue makes it pretty clear that it is set during December (which was when it was supposed to come out originally).