Comics / Comic Reviews / DC Comics

Batman and Robin #1

By Dan Horn
September 14, 2011 - 15:09

When iconic writer Grant Morrison announced his departure from the pre-reboot Batman and Robin, he had made a last wish that Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, creative team behind the burgeoning success of the Green Lantern Corps series, take the reigns. Tomasi and Gleason did in fact hold a short and interrupted tenure on the series, though Paul Cornell and Scott McDaniel seemed to have a run that was equally as short-lived and just as entertaining. Both of the aforementioned pairs of creators really did some great and imaginative work in the small window of time allotted their endeavors, but it's safe to say that neither team ever really recaptured the strangeness of Morrison's first sixteen issues of Batman and Robin. Tomasi and Gleason's stint, as well as Cornell and McDaniel's, was thusly underrated by many critics and readers. Perhaps no one can ever replicate the weirdness that is Grant Morrison, and maybe it's a blessing that Tomasi and Gleason tend to structure their sagas more comprehensibly. In Batman and Robin #1, however, what we get from Tomasi and Gleason may be a bit too kosher.

After a brief introduction to a new villain, which seems to have a rather trite skill set, the story opens on the anniversary of Thomas and Martha Wayne's deaths. Bruce commemorates the occasion with his once-illegitimate son, Damien, the new Robin. We begin to see the father-son dynamic here, perhaps truly for the first time, unfettered by events and rebirths and other boilerplates. It's engrossing, even if Bruce seems a bit out of character. This is a shoe-gaze Batman; the way he rambles on dramatically about his parents' murders is something that will certainly seem strange to the Batman-educated, but may not affect the perceptions of the newly-anointed comic book reader.

A heist at a nuclear power plant unexpectedly calls Batman and Robin away from their sober reveries, and the father-son dynamic is explored once again, this time via trial by fire. Damien's violent and impetuous proclivities make this duo slightly less than dynamic as Bruce, a calculating tactician and non-lethal enforcer, is constantly butting heads with his brash, amoral son. At one point Damien asserts his individuality by shouting, "I'm not like Tim, or Jason, or even Dick," but in reality this benign/malignant motif does sound remarkably similar to the relationship between Bruce and Jason Todd, the second Robin and present day Red Hood. The result of Damien's impish actions, which I won't spoil here, is pretty unnerving, though I doubt it will hold the same weight for readers new to Damien Wayne as Robin.

The closing page is really unsettling, adding a dash of the weirdness that I was expecting from the very beginning. This issue lays a solid foundation if nothing else, rife with action (which unfortunately makes for a short read) and character development and intrigue. We're not really given a clear link between the heist and the new villain, though, and that is definitely a mark against this debut: a missed opportunity to deepen the book's cliffhanger. Gleason's art is on point; really some of the best work he's done to date, which has me wondering if Mick Gray might have quite a bit to do with the look of this book's interiors. I think the rest of this series is going to age to perfection quickly and will be a dependably satisfying addition to any reader's pull list.

Rating: 7.5 /10

Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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