STORY: Peter J. Tomasi
ART: Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray
After a pretty awesome first arc and a better-than-average contribution to “Night of the Owls”, Batman and Robin has really found a place as a title focused on the relationship between these two characters and how it differs from former Robins because Damian is Bruce’s son. Damian is a very complex character that Grant Morrison created (kind of), built up quite a bit, then just left for everyone else to clean up. In many ways, it would be like having divorced parents with passionate political beliefs that were polar opposite from one another. Damian was raised a loyal Libertarian, and has been thrust into the world of Democrats that he’s only now beginning to understand, though he still feels inclined to prove his self worth by any means necessary. Unfortunately, all of these excellent elements surrounding Damian’s characterization only show up sparingly throughout this current arc, and not at all in this issue.
“Terminus Maximus” has been billed as the ‘main arc’ of the past three issues, yet until Batman and Robin #12, you could have fooled me and said the big story was “War of the Robins”, a side story concerning Damian’s desire to defeat each of the former Robins in an effort to prove himself the best of Batman’s sidekicks. Indeed, the “Robins” arc is far more insightful and interesting, as it has to do with emotional ramifications instead of blind villainy. Damian is a 10 year old assassin child challenging much older, stronger men to bouts of strength and wits – tell me that’s not more awesome than a plot about yet another psychotic villain who wants to kill Batman and give Gotham the “truth”. However I feel about the quality of each story, “Terminus” takes the spotlight this issue, as DC billed the issue as “The Final fight with Terminus!” Though, this is the one and only meeting, let alone fight, that Batman and Terminus have had. I don’t know why Peter J. Tomasi wanted to crush a six-issue story into three, but he does so here with as much grace as a Juggernaut in a china shop.
Terminus himself is a pretty by-the-books villain, one who believes that Batman has made the city worse through his actions. Now, Termy wants to make the city fear Batman by sending out an army of lunatics to brand civilians with a bat symbol. While that particular part of the arc is cool, the entirety of the attack on Gotham lasted less than one issue. This month, it’s all about Batman vs. Terminus, though there’s really not a lot of logic to it. Terminus takes his name because he’s terminal, and also because he wants to terminate Batman, I’m going to assume. Beyond that, we don’t know anything about this guy. He doesn’t have a proper name, his sickness is never given adequate explanation, and his hatred for Batman never evolves past vague “your actions affected me negatively” emotions that aren’t based in anything real.
It’s a real shame that “War of the Robins” not only ends this issue, but also gets pushed to the severe edges of the narrative. As Bats and Robin take on Terminus and this thugs, Nightwing, Red Robin, and Red Hood show up to lend a hand to save their city from this villain-of-the-week. The panels featuring all the former (and current) Robins together are filled with witty banter and snaps at each other much like brothers in the backyard. It’s really at this point, nearly 2/3 of the way through the issue, that things start getting interesting, and it’s because Tomasi finally starts focusing on relationships for a moment.
Now that “Terminus” is in the past, we have Batman and Robin #0 to look forward to next month, hopefully shedding some light onto the formative years of Damian’s life in the League of Assassins. Because really, I just want to forget Terminus was even a villain. Tomasi even had to throw in a biochemical warhead for Batman to stop to make Termy more that just another faceless threat. But even that didn’t work.