Batman and Robin Annual #1
Damian dupes the Dark Knight, bringing them closer than ever before
This annual begins with an unexpected gesture from Damian to Bruce, a friendly invitation to join him on a hunt for Wayne family treasure. Damian has recorded a message for his father via iPad, instructing him to begin the scavenger hunt in London. In this segment of the story, we see Bruce and Alfred meeting the past and putting aside their busy Gotham City lives to enjoy themselves and do a bit of self exploration. Bruce continues the hunt through Spain and Greece while Alfred remains in London to rekindle his relationship with his lost love Catherine, while also renewing the spirit of The Bard within himself.
Little do they know that Damian has cleverly laid out these steps for them to take in advance, all so he can spend a few nights patrolling the streets of Gotham without the Caped Crusader by his side. As we’ve seen in the past with Batman and Robin, their relationship is tenuous, and often times without trust, so the reader knows that this will most likely have some serious consequences.
Each character goes through the motions as we would expect. Bruce finds the evidence of his mother’s sole attempt at painting in London (with his own special signature clearly marked), a landmark from his parents honeymoon in Barcelona and a relic of Thomas’ proposal to Martha in Spain. Bruce is touched by his son’s tenderness at each of these gestures. It all helps him ignore that fact that he noticed the green screen in Damian’s messaging from the beginning of the facade. He puts it aside for once and decides to take this as it was meant to be: a genuine attempt of love and compassion from son to father.
Back in Gotham, Damian is hard at work trying to fill his father’s big, empty shoes. One thing that I just have to remark on is Damian and Titus’ (possibly better known as Bat-Dog) affinity for leather in their new costumes. Titus looks like an S&M fetishist while Damian looks like a 10-year-old biker. I guess that’s what you get when you let a preteen design his own costume!
Damian has never wanted in the way of intellect, so he takes to the streets, following clues and evading the GCPD in order to catch a freakish criminal who has been stealing fuel. He solves the crime and takes down a handful of criminals along the way, enough to prove to us that he could take up the cowl if he wanted to. But there was no fooling the citizens of Gotham. Everyone could see through the young knight’s mask, Jim Gordon among them. My favorite moment of the book was seeing Damian swinging to save a child from some burning wreckage, all while the kid was screaming “Best! Batman! Ever!” His mother promptly thanks Damian, “Thank you…umm…Bat Boy.” Damian has crafted his rendition of the Dark Knight dialect, and in the lowest possible voice that I can possibly imagine a 10 year old can make, he responds with, “It’s Batman. And I hate kids.” This is one of the reasons Damian is my favorite DC character.
So this issue had a lot going for it. I loved the father/son dynamic that Thomasi has always been able to execute so well. It’s definitely one of the reasons I keep coming back to B&R. It’s like nothing I’ve ever read in a comic. The seriousness of Batman fighting to clean up the filthy streets of Gotham, while trying to be the father of a 10 year old kid! It sounds like a bad sitcom, but there is some honest heart in these stories and I will keep coming back to this comic month after month.