Bruce is the sole bat, Damian’s the kid brat, and Alfred’s gonna eat his hat in this month’s Batman and Robin #1! (Spoiler alert: Alfred doesn’t actually have a hat. But the guy killing Bat-men has a cool looking mask!)

BATMAN AND ROBIN #1
Writer: Peter J Tomasi
Penciller: Patrick Gleason
Inker: Mick Gray
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Cover: Gleason and Gray
Assistant Editor: Katie Kubert
Associate Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Batman and Robin: Bruce Wayne had an out-of-continuity son with Talia al-Ghul, Damian Wayne. After having Damian trained by the League of Assassins for a number of years, Talia convinced Grant Morrison to write him into continuity, and proceeded to drop him off at Bruce’s doorstep. Damian then took it upon himself to become the world’s most obnoxious Robin, surpassing even the retconned hubcap-stealing Jason Todd. Dick Grayson managed to tame him a bit, but now that Damian is Bruce’s Robin, we can expect the dynamic to shift a bit.

THE BRAT PACK

And shift it does. Damian’s obnoxiousness jumps off practically every page, which makes for hard reading at times. The story is pretty straightforward; we see a masked figure attacking a Russian who claims to be an ally of the Bat (implying Batman Inc is still going forward, though in a different form perhaps). We then get Bruce deciding to take Damian out with him to Crime Alley on this night, the anniversary of his parents’ death. Damian of course couldn’t care less about his dead grandparents, and is suitably impertinent in the chat with his father. Bruce has decided this is the last time he will revisit Crime Alley on the eve of his parents’ death, and instead honor and remember them on their wedding anniversary; a significant step in the character of Batman, especially since this relaunch is seeking to set the tone for the character (though so far between this, JL and Detective we have seen three fairly different Batmen, two of which are supposed to be taking place at roughly the same time).

This book feels like more of a number one issue than most of the relaunch titles so far; Tomasi’s dialogue gives us a lot of exposition, and some of it seems a bit forced. Damian’s character has definitely taken a BIG step backwards, being closer to the Batman and Son Damian than the end of Batman and Robin Damian; I am hoping it is just the pressure of wanting to live up to his father’s legacy that causes him to be so impetuous, but either way we are liable to be forced to endure Damian maturing again. Hopefully it will happen quickly, because the character is only tolerable in small doses with this attitude.

A PILE OF HOMAGES

The first thing that stood out to me with the art in this issue is the several homages to previous DC scenes. The first time we see Bruce in this issue, he is sitting in Wayne Manor in the darkness in the same scene famous for him being inspired to become the Batman. Gleason frames the shot in the same way, such that I half expected a large bat to come crashing through the window. Later on when we first see Bruce and Damian in full cape and cowl together it reminds me of the Frank Quitely scene with the two of them in the Batmobile (or Batplane; I forget which it was at the time). Interestingly, Gleason didn’t take the opportunity to draw the stereotypical Bruce standing over his dead parents when the pair went to Crime Alley–it fits in well with the tone Bruce is taking with regards to the whole sordid affair, wanting to remember them for their lives rather than their death (a bold step for Tomasi to take, and an opportunity for him to leave his fingerprints in the Batman legacy).

Gleason’s pencils have their highs and lows; I like how he draws Commissioner Gordon and Batman, but I haven’t fully decided what I think of his take on Damian. An important plot point to the issue is that currently, Bruce doesn’t consider Damian to be Robin–he’s just his son, and has to earn the right to be Robin. As such, we can consider him to be just a kid in a costume, and that’s how Gleason’s art of Damian in the Robin costume comes off to me. It never quite looks like the costume fits him right, and if that’s what Gleason was going for, then he did an incredible job. Some of his other art comes off a bit wonky to me (see: the kid in the foreground of the pool scene when Batman drains the pool), so I don’t know if the Robin aspect is intentional, but I really hope so. Overall I liked the art; the villain is delightfully creepy, and the Russian ally of the Bat was a neat character design, even if he appears to be dead already.

BOTTOM LINE: Of all the Bat-Titles in the Relaunch, It’s Certainly a Bat-Title

I liked this issue, though maybe not as much as Batwoman this week, and certainly not as much as Demon Knights. Tomasi has done good stuff with Batman and Robin with his White Knight arc, but I am not sold on his interpretation of the Bruce/Damian dynamic. I am cautiously optimistic, and as such give this issue three stars.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Author

Jimmy

Jimmy

Once upon a time, there was a boy. This boy grew up reading classic literature--Moby Dick, The Time Machine, Robinson Crusoe. At age six, his favorite novel was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He devoted his time and efforts into being an incredible nerd, mastering classical literature and scientific history for his school's trivia team. Then he got to college, and started reading comic books. It's been all downhill from there.
Jimmy's favorite writers include Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Gail Simone, Grant Morrison, Chuck Dixon, Mark Waid and Bryan Q. Miller. His favorite artists are Kevin Maguire, Amanda Conner and Alex Ross, and his least favorite grammatical convention is the Oxford Comma. His most frequent typographical gaffe is Randomly Capitalizing Words.

You can follow his lunacy on Twitter at @JimmyTheDunn

Previous post

SOLICITATIONS: Image Comics for December 2011

Next post

NEW 52 REVIEW: Deathstroke #1

14 Comments

  1. Trey
    September 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm — Reply

    I hate this Robin so much. He is everything people despised about Jason Todd and worse. I am a huge Batman fan but if nothing changes by the end of #2 I will drop this issue from my pull list.

  2. September 16, 2011 at 4:53 pm — Reply

    Batman was also in JLI, which seemed to be a different take than the one in JL. Didn’t actually read the Bat-titles. Haven’t cared much for Batman in his own books for a long time.

    Sad to see Damian regress, though.

    Have we seen or heard any mention of Tim?

    • TaZ
      September 16, 2011 at 5:06 pm — Reply

      Tim’s first appearance as Red Robin that I saw is in Superboy #1. Apparently they’re tying in the Teen Titans to Superboy’s origin in this relaunch in a line sort of similar to Young Justice.

    • Jimmy
      September 16, 2011 at 5:16 pm — Reply

      Yep, forgot to mention JLI Batman. He seems to be reasonable to be the same Batman as this title though, but in terms of personality I don’t see that meshing with Detective Comics yet. I have no objections to different takes on the same character, but not if you are trying to build a universe from the ground up that has the same characters.

      Also I forgot to mention, this issue cleared up an important piece of continuity: All four Robins (Dick Jason Tim and Damian) have worn the domino mask, though we already knew that. Dick was Batman for a period, and Damian was his Robin (which makes his regression all the worse, but as long as he grows suitably in the next few issues I am alright with a temporary setback)

      • Damascus
        September 17, 2011 at 12:40 pm — Reply

        It’s hard to say with this one issue if Damian is really experiencing a setback or loss of maturity, because it seems like the high standards of Batman might create some animosity from Damian. If he feels like he was somewhat treated as an equal by Dick and then Bruce shows back up and he’s back to “auditioning” for the role of Robin, maybe he’s being impertinent just out of spite. Having to listen to the father who was never around, and having him tell him what to do and how to do it. I’ll hope it’s something like that more than just being a snotty brat. Maybe that’ll get me through a few more issues before it drives me crazy.

        • Jimmy
          September 17, 2011 at 10:14 pm — Reply

          I’m giving things the benefit of the doubt and assuming it’s because of the fact that it’s Bruce; as I mentioned in response to Dan Hunter’s comment below, it’s like going from the more lenient “Uncle Dick” to the more disciplinary schooling of the dad. If Damian’s not better by issue three or four, I’ll be dropping the title for sure.

    • September 16, 2011 at 6:42 pm — Reply

      Have we seen or heard any mention of Tim?

      Tim is in Teen Titans as Red Robin.

  3. Ian
    September 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm — Reply

    Damian is annoying

  4. Dan Hunter
    September 17, 2011 at 1:11 am — Reply

    I like Damian, it’s nice to have a Robin that’s not a copy of those who have gone before him. His character hasn’t regressed, it’s a different universe/continuity thanks to Flashpoint

    • Jimmy
      September 17, 2011 at 12:08 pm — Reply

      And yet supposedly he still had his time as Dick’s Robin.

      In my own personal canon, Damian still had his time of growth and maturing with Dick, but since his father’s come back into playing a major role in his life he’s grown a bit petulant, as he doesn’t have nearly the amount of freedom to be himself he did when he was free-wheeling with his “Uncle” Dick.

      But either way, he has regressed in that he’s gone back to being the same character he was when he was first introduced, which was a (to me) unlikable brat that I already had to grit my teeth and bear through his maturing once.

  5. Damascus
    September 18, 2011 at 1:02 am — Reply

    Also, I just remembered, there were two random names used in the book that stuck out to me and I wondered if anyone else thought they were meant as homages or not. One was they mentioned the Miller Building, which obviously made me think about Frank Miller and the person swimming that the coach yelled out to was named Adams, which had me thinking about Neal Adams. Just wondering if anyone else thought those might be thrown in there as little homages to those that’ve had an impact penning The Bat in the past?

    • Jimmy
      September 18, 2011 at 9:27 am — Reply

      I definitely think the Miller building was a Frank Miller shout-out, and did catch that one on my reading. I didn’t catch the Adams reference, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if that was referencing Neal Adams. This issue had a lot of fun homages and shoutouts with the art-work, so that’d be fitting

  6. kevinpbreen
    September 18, 2011 at 11:44 am — Reply

    At least this issue had a plot (the nuclear thieves) that was resolved, even if there are bigger story arcs in the wings. I liked that we may be seeing the beginnings of a new Batman who’s not so obsessed and self-centered (haven’t read JLA or the others so I don’t know about the different takes on Batman). Damian just seemed obnoxious, where in the past he could be amusingly sarcastic. Still, from an attracting-new-readers standpoint, more about Damian should have been explained for readers who are expecting Dick Grayson.

  7. brenton8090
    September 25, 2011 at 7:58 am — Reply

    I liked the plot, mostly, the Bat-Rob parts were good, and the Bat-ghost-killer guy was good (and props on the art for that first scene. It’s not easy to draw a fight with an invisible man and still get your point across)

    But I just didn’t understand the nuclear theives. They’re stealing containment water? And there’s a nuclear reactor in this Miller Building? And above the nuclear reactor is a swimming pool full of children? And the reactor is going critical and Batman exposes the children to the radiation? Didn’t make sense to me.

    However, I really liked the issue, and seeing as how those a re little things that won’t be back to bother me next month, I’m on board.

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section