DC NEW 52: Batman And Robin - dynamic dysfunctional duo

 

BATMAN AND ROBIN  #1 – 4  (DC Comics)  Peter J. Tomasi, writer.  Patrick Gleason, penciller.  Mick Gray, inker.  John Kalisz, colorist.  Patrick Brosseau, letterer.

This book was a nice discovery for me as well as a welcome surprise.

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What interests me most about this title is the relationship between father Bruce Wayne and son Damien Wayne.  It’s about respect, trust, teamwork and bridging the generation gap. It’s very much like any real-world family once the children begin to mature and think for themselves,  which usually occurs at the same time they begin to feel a little self-confident and independent.  Writer Peter J. Tomasi has a young son to help influence his characterization of Robin - - and that kind of high value experience helps to make the father-son exchanges in this book seem realistic. 

So, what happens in BATMAN AND ROBIN?:

In the opening Bruce decides to make an about-face and stop reminding himself so much of the date, time and occurrence of his parents’ death and instead celebrate their anniversary and life.  This news is meant with bored indifference by son Damien, which sets off a heated discussion about equal partnership in the team, respect and trust.  A villain named Nobody who possesses stealth technology dispatches the Batman, Inc. agent in Moscow and then makes his way to the U.S.  He aggressively dislikes the  Batman “franchise”  and intends to take his scorn directly to the source.  He renews his acquaintance with Bruce, meeting him as “ Morgan” and letting  Bruce know that he feels the “mission” has been distorted and he (Nobody) is here for “intervention”. (I’m trying to avoid being a spoiler here by revealing too much.)   The setting for his confrontation/lecture to a bound Batman and Robin at an abandoned drive-in theater is classic, in both style and imagery.

What did I like about it?:

1)Tomasi also ties the storyline directly into that relationship so that it becomes the driving force of this series so far. Otherwise, villain Nobody would be non-memorable - - just another temporary threat that Batman should be able to handle.  Instead, Nobody intends to drive a wedge between Damien and his father and in doing so become the guiding force in Damien’s development.

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2) The opening of each of the various fight scenes throughout the series.  It’s usually an in-your-face one or two page panel with a scary Batman confronting the criminals and an equally scary grim-faced Robin doing his best to match his father’s presence.  This helps give evidence to Bruce’s growing fear that Damien would simply become a monster without his father’s influence and guidance.

3) The frequent discussions between Alfred and Bruce about Damien are very revealing and show that Bruce is in over his head when it comes to this matter.  Alfred tries to be diplomatic and keep his own controlling impulses in check.   It’s almost like another father-son discussion, just with different players.   I also love that Alfred has a very definite role in this series rather than just function as man-servant to the manor.

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4) Patrick Gleason’s art is very fluid, and he does some nice and subtle tributes to various past artists of the Batman throughout the book. (Bernie Wrightson comes to mind in Issue #3.)  There are some amazing panels throughout these issues.  And the rest of the art team does everything they can to further enhance the effect.  It shows. 

5) The covers.  I am very pleased with the cover art on almost all of the DC books.  They seem to understand what commands attention and will draw curious readers to the books.  Unlike a lot of Marvel covers I’ve seen lately that just look like arrogant posing of the characters.  Check out the symbolic cover to Issue #4 - -  one of the best New 52 covers I’ve seen - - and there are many good ones.

What didn’t I like about it?:

1) No gripe with the book.  I’m just unhappy with myself because both writer and artist were unfamiliar to me before reading BATMAN AND ROBIN.  They both are DC stalwarts and veterans, especially Tomasi who signed on as an editor in the 1990’s and has been writing for DC since 2007.  Gleason has also done work for Marvel and Image.  It’s just that I’ve never picked up any books that they were involved with before  (that I can remember).  Hard to image that I could miss them, but it’s true.

230px-9_14_11PeterTomasiByLuigiNovi1          230px-6_8_08PatrickGleason1ByLuigiNovi

Do I love, like, feel indifferent, dislike, or loathe this title?

I like this very much.  It’s close to love.  It’s going to depend on where this goes after the first story arc concludes over the next several issues.

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