Batman and Robin 12

The final showdown between the Dynamic Duo and Terminus!

This was the first issue of Batman and Robin I’ve ever picked up.  I hear about it all the time: on Reddit, from my co-poster John, from all corners of the comics world, people seem to be lauding Tomasi and Gleason’s run.  And the reason is clear:  while the writing and plotting are top-notch and the art is subtle without losing any kinetic power during the fight scenes (issue 12 is one long fight scene), the reason everyone loves Batman and Robin is Damian.

I don’t have much to say about the story, because there isn’t much to comment on.  Like I say, I came into this issue cold-turkey, not having read issues 1-11 – though I think I might now – but I did know about Damian.  He’s the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al’Ghul and, obviously, the new Robin.  He also has something to prove to the world, it seems, as he’s made it his goal to take down all previous Robins in combat.

What I love most about Damian is what he brings to the Robin tradition.  As I’ve mentioned before, I adore mythology behind a story, and the Batman universe has always been full of backstory.  Batman and Robin 12 is full of backstory if you know where to look for it.  One of my favorite individual panels of the new 52 occurred in this issue:

All four Robins (who weren’t retconned in the 52 shift) are collected here, in their various personas, watching their mutual mentor saving Gotham from an incoming warhead delivered by Terminus.  If you don’t know who they are:  the fellow on top is Dick Grayson, the first Robin and now Nightwing; one down to the right is Jason Todd, the second Robin — presumed dead at the Joker’s hands — now operating as Red Hood; after Jason there is Tim Drake, the third Robin and now Red Robin; and finally there with the symbolic R on his chest is Damian Wayne, taking his place among the legacy.

Damian has made it his mission to best all of the past Robins, but here he realizes that the Robins, like the rest of the supporting Bat-cast, are a family and not a competition.  At the end of the issue, Grayson readily hands one of his batons to Damian as a trophy, saying “You don’t need to try so hard, Damian.  You’re already wearing the ‘R’.”

In terms of the story for this issue in particular, I felt it was a little dry.  Terminus seems a weak villain, too easily defeated and Batman saving Gotham from a warhead….? Looks like a job for Superman in my opinion.  However, there were a couple of cool moments in the comic, like Batman activating the emergency undercarriage chute in the Batmobile for a quick suit change, and the Augmentation Suit, which granted Batman superstrength (allowing him to tear up the warhead).

I was also surprised by Gleason’s art, which I found very smooth.  It is reminiscent of Frank Quitely, but in a way that doesn’t offend me so much: I don’t like Quitely, I think his people look like fish or something.

– Henry