REVIEW: Batman and Robin #0

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Bruce Wayne has a son, a genetically engineered cold-hearted offspring of him and Talia al Ghul. Hoping to deprogram Damian Wayne from the teachings of the League of Assassins, Batman enlists his son’s help on his crime fighting adventures as Robin. Can Robin curtail his murderous tendencies to achieve his goals of being a hero like his father?

Batman and Robin #0
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Colorist: John Kalisz
Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Batman and Robin: Terminus and his Branders have taken Gotham City hostage and only Batman and Robin can stop them. While an armored Batman tangles with Terminus, Robin takes care of the Branders with the help of Nightwing, Red Hood and Red Robin. Defeated, Terminus unleashes his last ditch effort, a warhead containing weapon-grade toxins heading towards Gotham City. Batman flies to the missile and navigates it to Gotham Harbor, saving the city from destruction.

BECAUSE HE’S (THE SON OF) BATMAN

Batman and Robin takes a break from the current storyline to bring you the story of Damian Wayne before he met Batman. Issue #0 documents Damian’s quest to find the identity of his father. It also chronicles his upbringing, trained by his mother, Talia al Ghul, and the League of Assassins. First, let me say this: I am not a fan of Damian Wayne as Robin. Compared to Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake, Damian is very different from the conventional Batman sidekick role. Rather than being thrust into the role, he has been groomed as a child to be Batman. To Damian, who grew up without a father figure, being Robin is the first step in inheriting his birthright. Peter Tomasi relies on this allegory heavily. With all the hints, I am surprised young Damien did not come to the conclusion that Batman is his father. Unfortunately, Damian’s childhood memories seem too surreal.  I would have preferred more human moments between Damian and his mother. Instead you get panel after panel of over-the-top narration and plenty of bloodshed. Apparently, the members in the League of Assassins are easier to kill than Stormtroopers. The comparisons to Alexander the Great are interesting, but it makes Damian seem more like a spoiled brat than a would-be world conqueror. Although I admire Damian’s determination to learn the truth, his characterization does not fit the role of Robin. Robin represents the “common” everyday kid; a character who teenagers can relate to as the coming-of-age hero. Damian’s portrayal in this comic detaches him farther from this representation.

BATMAN’S ALIEN OFFSPRING

Much of Patrick Gleason’s artwork is dedicated to Damian’s rearing and training. From baby to adolescence, we see Damian’s eyes widen and shrink on an epic scale. It’s distracting to see the future Boy Wonder have eyes that cover half his face. As mentioned earlier, there is a ton of violence, which is represented well throughout the issue. However, the panels require you to suspend belief. For example that a 10 year old boy has the strength to shoot two machine guns without recoil or lop off the wings of a Man-Bat with one slice. There is an anime influence to the art that would work if I was reading a manga and not an American comic.

BOTTOM LINE: IT’S BEEN DONE

I started reading this comic when it came out after Battle for the Cowl. I loved the Dick Grayson/Damian Wayne pairing that made this comic dynamic and groundbreaking. Then, Bruce Wayne came back from the dead, the new 52 rebooted the comic and the series has not been the same since. This issue is pointless because it just retells what we know about Damian from previous stories. If you’re looking for information on Batman in the new 52, like Batman #0 and Detective Comics #0, you will be disappointed. 2 stars.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆