A different but ultimately disappointing entry in the series. Given its ties to the previous book, The Phantom, it's best to read the two in quick suc...moreA different but ultimately disappointing entry in the series. Given its ties to the previous book, The Phantom, it's best to read the two in quick succession since it takes the book a while to get to recapping its events - a strange idea given how reliant it is on previous knowledge. While there are definitely some good parts of the book, it is mainly the negatives that stand out to me. The recycling of a few devices from previous novels gets pretty tiring as does Nesbo's use of wordplay to suggest a terrible fate is about to befall a character only to swoop in with a "gotcha!" in the next sentence (it was fun/funny the first couple times, but became predictable and eye-rolling after that). Also the book lacks a central character until around the halfway point, and though the concept is intriguing, in practice it is more damaging to the flow of the story since there is no real focus. My other major grievance is that at the climax of the book, it's hard to care about the characters in danger because they hardly showed up in this story at all. There's no real emotional attachment to characters who did absolutely nothing in this story, and it just ruined what was obviously supposed to be one of the most gripping parts.(less)
This volume picks up the series after Grant Morrison's 16 issue run on Batman and Robin ended. With Morrison gone, different writers are left to pick...moreThis volume picks up the series after Grant Morrison's 16 issue run on Batman and Robin ended. With Morrison gone, different writers are left to pick up the series in his absence. There are three storylines here, each a three-issue story arc by a different writer.
Out of the three storylines, Tomasi's "Tree of Blood" is easily the best (which is probably why they titled the book after it and used one of its issue's covers as the cover for this collection). The plot starts with people being dressed as angels and plummeting to their death in apparent suicides. Of course, once Batman and Robin investigate they think otherwise and eventually engage with the villain behind this. The villain himself is really great, and I would definitely be up for seeing more of him in the future. My only real complaint is that his backstory is pretty rushed and not that interesting. It could have been a lot worse though, and especially when juxtaposed with the other two villains in this volume, it's easy to overlook this flaw and just enjoy the rest. Other than that, part of what makes this story shine is the great interactions between the heroes - especially the opening scene before all the villainy and superhero business takes over. It's no wonder that after the New 52 reboot, Tomasi took over as the regular writer for the series and continued to make Batman and Robin the best Batman book currently running.
Out of the other two storylines, there isn't nearly as much to enjoy. The first storyline, "The Sum of Her Parts," falls flat because the villain is just bad. Her entire concept/design is ridiculous and hard to take seriously and the hamfisted way you are hammered over the head with the "missing things" theme is just not handled well. The last storyline is equally bad for the same reason, essentially. Out of all the different interpretations and characterizations of Jason Todd over the years, this was one of the worst. The plot to the arc is also very bland, not much to really talk about since it's very run of the mill.
What saves these two stories from bringing the entire volume down is that when they aren't fumbling around with their awkward villains, they do write very good dialogue between Dick and Damian. This, combined with the short length of each arc, makes these otherwise mediocre stories palatable. So although this book doesn't have the same amazing qualities of Morrison's run and isn't nearly as coherent when put together, it is still worth reading if only for the Dick/Damian interactions and Tomasi's "Tree of Blood." (less)