Batman and Robin Annual #2

Batman-and-Robin-Annual-2

 

O.G. Dynamic Duo

If you’ve been reading Batman and Robin for the last year or so, you may have noticed that something was missing… Yes, indeed, since the death of Damian Wayne, Batman and Robin has been a little quirky, including a series of one shot stories starring just about everyone in the Batalog, including a rather lengthy story arc involving Batman and Two-Face, that has actually yet to be completed. I hope I’m not the only one who still reads and enjoys this book. Batman and Robin has been one of my all time favorites since Morrison started the title up with Grayson and Damian a couple years back, and it has had its twists and turns, and when Damian died in Batman Inc., I thought all hope was lost.. Fortunately, even though these one shot stories were gimmicky and the Batman and Two-Face is kind of strange, I definitely still recommend picking them up and giving them a read through. Tomasi and Gleason have been masterfully playing their hand of late, showing that a book about Batman and Robin can have 50% of its principle cast absent and still be a stellar book.

In the title’s second annual, Peter Tomasi works with artist Doug Mahnke alongside is usual partner in crime Pat Gleason, with the assistance of five of inkers in addition to Mahnke. These creators are all working together in order to tell a story that attempts to bring Damian and his style back into the pages of B&R, and in my opinion, they do a great job getting his wit and way back into the book, and tell a great story that I was not familiar with about the first days Grayson spent as Robin.

Basically, the creative team want to quickly revisit the roots of what B&R has been about for the past several years, without discrediting the work they’ve done since Robin’s death. I think it was a brilliant idea, as a huge fan of the title both before and after Damian’s demise. What I mean about keeping Damian alive in this book is that Tomasi has written a story about an artifact left behind in Wayne Manor that was never found until now. And this artifact was found by Bruce and was addressed to the original Robin and left behind by the most recent.

The artifact itself is wrapped up, and carries the message “Payback for Grayson telling me that long boring story about his first week as Robin.” Of course Bruce immediately requests to be told the story in the exact same way he told it to Damian before. Thus the story begins. Now, as I said before, it’s a story I’m unfamiliar with. I’ve not read much of the history of B&R, so I don’t know if the story told here is accurate to what really happened to Dick on his first week as Robin. I hope that it is because it’s always nice to see a new and modern spin on a classic tale. Just see Detective Comics #27. Having read the entire runs of both Morrison and Tomasi on B&R, I can say that there are a lot of shared themes in young Dick as there were to Damian on the job. Boredom is a huge one. I remember Damian never taking his punishment well, especially adding the whole father-son dynamic to the mix, but Grayson suffered from similar circumstances. He spent all day at school, counting the seconds til he could don the cape and cowl, only to have his dreams shattered by Bruce when Dick broke a simple protocol. Obviously, the members of the Bat Family always find a way to make things work, but I really thought this story was a great way to show that when Damian was alive, he wasn’t the only one who struggled to fill the green booties.

Overall, I’m usually annoyed by annuals. They are expensive, usually feature writers and artists that aren’t the usual creators and their stories deviate from the current story arc. I’ve never seen the point! But the two annuals that have come out so far for B&R have definitely defied my expectations for annuals, giving me a lot of hope for the future. Their art has been great, the stories have been written by Tomasi and even though they deviated, they still featured every bit of charm that B&R usually showcases. And in the case of Annual #2, we even got a brilliant glimpse into the past, seeing one of our favorite dearly departed friends.

I strongly recommend reading this book, picking up the title from here and subscribing at your Local Comic Store.

–John