After the relaunch, I did not continue reading Detective Comics or The Dark Knight because I was not impressed with the prior creators’s work. It wasn’t my tone. Batman and Robin has hit the sweet spot for me.
When Grant Morrison introduced Damian as Batman’s son with Talia al Ghul, he was a jerky kid who had a chip on his shoulder. He didn’t think anyone could teach him anything and had the ego of a boy that had a psychopath as a grandfather and a mother…
Let alone a vigilante as a father.
And that is the story of Batman and Robin. Damian has been Robin since Batman “died” and he was Dick Grayson’s sidekick. Their relationship was great because Dick as Batman was more laid back and Damian did not respect him as a leader. Throughout the precursor series written by Morrison and art by various artists, including Frank Quitely, Philip Tan, and Cameron Stewart, among others, they developed a respect for each other. But Damian was still a loose cannon. And now his dad, whom he really does not know, is back.
Bruce Wayne is a powerful figure. Damian seems afraid of him, like many sons fear their fathers. Not a fear of punishment or pain, but of not being what the son believes their father to want. This story has been told multiple times in literature, on film, and even in comics. But not with Batman.
Peter Tomasi (writer), Patrick Gleason (pencils), Michael Gray (inks), and John Kalisz (colors) have created a beautiful story in the first eight issues of the new 52 Batman and Robin.
First, the art is dynamic but also very telling. The touching scenes between Bruce and Damian (and usually Alfred) are beautifully portrayed. The color schemes and inking appear to change with the tones of the room. If they are angry, the art gives it away in more than just the pencils. When they are Batman and Robin, there is that sense of kinematic fighting as well as dilemma. In this last issue where Batman has to rescue Damian, the reds are amazing. The expressions on Bruce’s face as he rushes into the Batcave with a waiting Dr. Alfred and touching and really provide a beautiful set of images.
Now, the story, as I noted above, is not original. But it doesn’t matter. We all understand the feelings of wanting to satisfy a parent or to watch one of our children try to match what they think we want. Tomasi has created a faulty dysfunctional family built around violence. We believe Batman to be a good man who is trying to stop crime in his city. But does that same intentions create a good father? He enlists young men to be his sidekicks to fight insane people in a little costume. At every turn, Alfred is trying to remind Bruce that Damian is still a boy who needs a childhood, even though both of his parents have been advancing him in age unjustly. To have the surrogate father act as a grandfather to slow down Bruce is an amazing storytelling technique.
This book has moved to the top of my pile and has become a must read. Way to go, DC Comics!