100 Days, 100 Comics #27: ‘Batman & Robin’ #5

Batman & Robin #5Well, the shell game with the Red Hood’s identity finally concluded in rather lackluster fashion in this issue, which gets the lowest marks from yet. I didn’t think Philip Tan’s artwork was nearly as detrimental to the story as Brian Cronin did, but I did feel like the payoff in the story itself was underneath the bar Morrison set in the first four issues — mostly considering the two big reveals are 1) The Red Hood’s identity, which was about as casually unveiled as as possible with an absolute minimum amount of suspense and zero surprise, since Dick Grayson called him out in the last issue, and 2) Flamingo, another new villain, who basically seems to be the Punisher, only he works for the mafia because they installed a computer chip in his head, and he carries whip.

The saving grace of the story is that Morrison delves into Sasha’s character a bit more and works Jason’s red hair color into his history in a mildly clever explanation.

I will agree with Brian’s review of Tan’s artwork in that it’s not nearly as effective as it could be with the faster action scenes. Body’s, costumes and shapes tend to amorphously spread out in his panels, which tends to give the impression that everything has this same wavy, gritty texture — skin, cloth, spandex — and it all bulges out into the space with hyper-close-ups and ambiguous angles to the point that there’s often not a clear sense of motion.

I’m still along for the ride with this series, but by the end issue #5 was the weakest Batman & Robin yet. Here’s hoping for some payoff in #6.

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