Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils: Patrick Gleason and Cliff Richards
Inkers: Mick Gray and Mark Irwin
Colorist: John Kalisz
The Stages of Grief storyline (can we call it that?) continues in Batman & Red Hood #20 as Bruce attempts to get over his son’s death. But is he really? It seems as though thus far, instead of actually grieving Damian’s loss, Bruce is just trying to find a way to get him back. In this issue, we see more confrontation with Carrie Kelley, who suspects something fishy going on with Damian dropping off the face of the earth and we also see Jason Todd, who seems to still recuperating at the Manor after the acid attack from the Joker (so, pre-Red Hood and the Outlaws 19).
The story mainly focuses on Jason, as the title of the issue implies, which I think is something that was lacking from #19, when Red Robin was supposed to be the star. Tomasi does a great job writing Jason in a way that’s clear he still wants to give Bruce a chance, and that he still wants to be a part of the family, to love Bruce and be loved in return. I also really enjoyed the little hints that Jason cared for Damian as well, and the he seems to be trying to remember the better times, like when the kid snuck into his safe house to steal his mask. (Because that’s totally better, right?)
While Tomasi still gets the point of Bruce’s story across – if Jason came back from the dead, so can Damian, and Jason can tell me how to do it – I felt a few bits of the dialogue were either kind of off or a little unnecessary. However, the dialogue about Damian (“Because I want to watch Damian grow up,” ; “Damian earned that right and I want to give it to him!”) really hit home, and made my heart hurt more than a little.
As for the art, Gleason again shines as the main artist for the title, and one of my favorite things about his style is that he is so attentive to detail. This month was no different. From Red Hood’s gorgeously drawn helmet to the dejected body posture on Jason Todd towards the end, it’s the little things like that, that make this book so wonderful every issue. It always amazes me how Gleason make eyes so emotive, without really even showing them at all! Cliff Richards did great on his pages as well. The shift in styles wasn’t too noticeable, and even if it was, John Kalisz’ colors blended everything together perfectly.
I‘m sure some people are wondering what Carrie Kelley has to do with anything, as anything with her might seem a little disjointed to the actual stories. But if the first 19 issues of this title in the New52 have taught me anything, it’s that everything in this book is connected, even if it doesn’t make sense at the time. So I can’t wait to see what comes of this book’s future, even after the grief. (Also, thanks to this issue, we finally know why Jason did what he did in Red Hood & the Outlaws #19. I’d say it might be a little justified.)
4 out of 5