Batman and Robin Annual #2 Review

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When Damian first appeared, I literally loathed the character. He was arrogant and oh so different from any Robin that ever stood by Batman’s side. If there had been a vote as to whether he should live or die (as with Jason Todd), I would have voted multiple times for him to kick the bucket!

Now, I hope he’ll be back at some point.

BATMAN AND ROBIN ANNUAL #2
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Cover: Mike McKone
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

Previously in BATMAN AND … :  “A YEAR ONE ADVENTURE OF DICK GRAYSON AS ROBIN! Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson have shared a distinctive crimefighting role:Both have played Batman to a young Robin, so when they discover something important that Damian left behind it leads them to relive one of their first adventures in Gotham City as Batman and Robin!”

HISTORY CONTINUES TO GET AN UPGRADE

As we’ve seen in Batman and other books in the Bat-family, the origins of the Dark Knight and his co-horts are getting updated to make more sense to today’s readers.

In this annual, the mourning for the loss of Damian continues mostly in this title. We see that Damian had a special kinship to Dick, who was Batman when he first took on the mantle of Robin. The funniest bit to me was when Damian refers to it as the “Robin” cave!

While the framing of this story has to do with Damian, it mostly re-tells the early adventures of Dick Grayson as Robin.

Turns out he and Damian really weren’t so different after all. Both bucked Batman as much as possible and didn’t follow orders at first. They also thought they knew everything even though they had a lot to learn.

Sidekicks are really becoming a thing of the past, but I remember what it was about Robin at Batman’s side that I have enjoyed over the years. Don’t get me wrong … Batman on his own is terrific, but there are some stories in which having someone work with the Dark Knight makes things more interesting.

Tomasi has always understood how Batman and Alfred interact in particular, but this annual shows that he knows Dick Grayson extremely well, too.

There’s a touching farewell to Dick from Damian at the end that I liked. Hey, it’s a guy thing not to express emotions verbally but to show an understanding of the other person’s life in a way only he would understand. Great job!

MAHNKE’S ART IS BOTH POWERFUL AND DRAMATIC

The cover is particularly cool, and there are two-page spreads that I’d love to have hanging from my wall, honestly.

Mahnke has always been a favorite of mine when it comes to action, but he struts his artistic stuff this go-round with the expressions of the characters. I really enjoyed his ability to indicate what each person is feeling regardless of the circumstances.

My favorite panel in the book happens when the aforementioned shooting takes place. I literally gasped when I saw it. But I also really liked the final sequence in which Jackson starts to understand just what the job is that he’s going to work on – kind of grisly, seems to me!

COULD DAMIAN STILL BE ABLE TO RETURN TO THE LAND OF THE LIVING?

We’ve been pretty much through the stages of grief with Batman and all since Damian died. But somehow, we still can’t let him go.

The last page of the issue shows Bruce, Dick and Damian swinging through Gotham in their most recent costumes. Could this annual and that panel be a hint that Damian’s not long for the land of the dead? I still think he could have ended up in the Lazarus Pit in time, and is waiting in the wings (so to speak) to become Robin again.

Hey, I’d buy it!