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Batman and Robin #19 | Comic Reviews | Nerdy Nothings

Batman and Robin #19

Batman and Robin 19


Taking over the epic Batman & Robin from Grant Morrison could not have been an enviable task for writer Paul Cornell, especially considering his three-issue arc was merely meant to act as a stopgap between Morrison and the series’ new ongoing writer, Peter Tomasi. Less enviable still, DC has paired Cornell’s script with Scott McDaniel‘s pencils. Odds were basically stacked against “The Sum of Her Parts” being a satisfying story from the beginning, and the release of the final issue has only confirmed that at best it’s a forgettable entry into the Caped Crusader’s canon.

For those who haven’t been following, “The Sum of Her Parts” features high-society woman Una Nemo on a mission of revenge. After she’s robbed, shot and tossed into the Gotham River, Miss Nemo finds herself with a curious problem: a giant hole runs straight through her head. Filled with rage, she vows to get even with those who’ve wronged her, starting with her might-have-been boyfriend Bruce Wayne, and his brand new “Batman, Inc.”

Let’s start with the art. It seems like it ought to be a generally-accepted truth that Scott McDaniel is just not a good artist. Batman & Robin is probably the least offensive work I’ve ever seen from him, but that’s not saying much. McDaniel practices that sloppy, broad style of drawing that doesn’t mesh with most superhero books, a genre which for better or worse usually strives to convince us of its reality. His characters severely lack any significant distinguishing details. For instance, check out Una Nemo’s face: it’s 100% perfectly smooth, like an egg with some piercings. McDaniel’s style should possess an upside, namely that his swift lines electrify any action sequence he touches. I think there lies a point, though, at which momentum does not make up for sloppiness, and McDaniel’s work falls too far on the bad side of that line. One has to imagine he’s an incredibly quick artist who consistently hits his deadlines, because he keeps getting work. But I just keep on not wanting to look at it.

And then there’s the story. Paul Cornell is a writer I really, really like. I appreciate that he tried to do something interesting with his brief tenure on Batman & Robin by creating a new villain that: A) has a mostly-unexplored psychological bent (Bruce treats women badly!) and B) a really weird medical condition based in real science (there’s a hole in her head!). Would that all fill-in writers had that kind of ambition. I find his execution lacking, though, especially in this final issue. Cornell comes from a television-writing background and here it shows; his main characters are reduced to attempting to defeat the villain by out-talking her while strapped to a torture device. Again, points for doing somethign different, but when a comic arc climaxes in ten pages of almost zero motion, I find the momentum of the story completely derailed. And bringing it back to the art, the last thing you want Scott McDaniel to draw is two people tied to chairs while a third harangues them. A pleasant read does not that make.

Una Nemo’s not a bad new character, necessarily, and I like the attempts to build a new antagonist out of a part of himself that Bruce Wayne still can’t seem to manage. I do think, though, “The Sum of Her Parts” took a rather clumsy path to get there, and an ugly one at that. I suspect Una shall one day return, but I also suspect that won’t have anyone clamoring to return to these three issues of Batman & Robin. In the end, much like the absence-obsessed Nemo, I find myself feeling nothing.

tags: batman, batman and robin, paul cornell, scott mcdaniel

  • Anonymous

    Just to make it clear – everything I post in these reviews is my own opinion. It’s certainly not a fact that Scott McDaniel’s art is deserving of your scorn, despite the harshness of my wording. He works hard doing what he loves, which is absolutely respectable. Just because I’m not a fan doesn’t mean that no one should be. It’s easy for critics to get carried away with things like that, and it’s not always fair to the creators.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Has anyone read anything about the sudden logo change with this issue? I quite liked the previous B&R logou2026

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