Batman and Robin #1 is the least new-reader friendly of all the bat-books. If anything, it feels like it should have been the Batman and Robin #27 that never happened because of the New 52 relaunch. If you haven’t heard of Batman Incorporated, you’re going to be confused. If you didn’t know that Bruce Wayne had a son named Damian who took over as Batman you’re going to be lost. And if you didn’t know Bruce Wayne was “lost in time” for a year, then, well, you’re better off just spending a day on Wikipedia catching up on all of this!
Now, if you’re familiar with the goings on of the Batman universe over the past couple years you’ll be right at home and happy to hear that this is a great issue. It sets up a new villain named NoBody who could turn out to be something special. NoBody seems to have something against Batman Incorporated and is picking off Batmen around the world. He also wears a suit that looks like a humanoid version of a Sentinel from “The Matrix” and he has the power of invisibility. But the whole “NoBody” storyline is going to be an issue for Batman and Robin down the road. But before you can deal with trouble down the road, you have to take care of the problems that lie on it. The biggest hurdle for the dynamic duo is their tense father and son relationship.
In the 26 issue run of Batman and Robin we saw a lighter Batman and darker Robin, which was a really fascinating change of pace for the Batman mythology. Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne didn’t get along at first but after a while they grew to respect one another and they felt like brothers. Now, Damian is working with his father only Bruce doesn’t view him as a partner or an equal as Dick did. As far as Bruce is concerned, Damian has a long way to go to earn his respect when Damian constantly wants to escalate the war on crime and Bruce, it seems, is trying to find a way out now that he has a son.
Batman and Robin has one of the best scenes of any of this month’s Batman titles. It’s a very poignant moment between Bruce and Damian that takes place in crime alley, a locale batfans are all too familiar with. The usual, paying respects scene is approached in a brand new way that feels fresh and shows that Bruce wants to change. He doesn’t want to be that constantly brooding figure who dwells on nothing but death and vengeance anymore. The tragedy here is that we know Bruce is never going to be happy. An evil force will always rise to pull him back down into the darkness. But it’s good to see a hopeful Bruce Wayne for a change.
Batman and Robin #1 is well paced book with a small dose of action, great dialogue, a memorable new villain, and great work by the art team. This story may not have a lot of plot (though it’s clearly setting up something big in future issues), it makes up for it by applying heavy focus to the characters and their relationship with one another. If you haven’t been keeping up with the Batman books over the past year or so you may be very confused by the opening pages, but I think the Bruce/Damian material is handled carefully enough that even if it does raise questions none of them will be overly distracting. This issue is a definite buy.