It’s kinda hard to take Bruce Wayne seriously when on one page he is voicing his concerns about being a good father to Damian and how he fears dying in battle and leaving him behind when on the following page he tells Damian “The weapons shipment we’ve been waiting to take down is finally on the move.”
But this is a different kind of father son dynamic. Bruce is a bit crazy after all and he’s not looking to change Damian into a normal 10 year old boy. Instead, he’s just wanting to mold him into a more even tempered crime fighter. However, worrying about what sort of man Damain would become without Bruce’s guidance doesn’t hold much weight. We’ve seen what would happen! Bruce was gone for like 2 years and Dick was doing a way better job molding Damian into a good human being. If anything it appears as if Damian has regressed back to his homicidal tendencies even more. One scene in the batcave is especially chilling.
If you liked Damian’s original backstory, you’ll be pleased to find out that nothing has changed. Batman’s timeline has been one of the iffiest in the new 52 since his “reboot” was a selective one. There’s a 2-page spread at the beginning of this book that proves most of the Grand Morrison stuff from the past few years still holds true. Even the man-bat army. But there are some changes to bat-history that take effect in this book. For instance, Ducard, a previous mentor of Bruce Wayne, is mentioned and he sounds more like Liam Neeson’s Batman Begins character than his previous incarnation in the comics. This important name-drop happens when we finally meet the 1st issue’s villain “Nobody” outside of the suit. I found it funny how his costume looks like a humanoid sentinel from The Matrix but he actually looks like Morpheus underneath. He’s a refreshing villain, too. It seems like every month or two Batman has to face some new mysterious villain who is working behind the scenes to destroy the Dark Knight and Batman must race to find out why and how to stop this new foe. Not this time. In one of the best scenes of this book we meet “Nobody” and he basically just comes right out and says “Hey, remember me? Well, I’m going to bring you down and here’s why.”
Be on the lookout for a popular Batman character to be introduced for the first time in the New 52 timeline. Or at least, it seems like it’s him—you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see him!
The art looks good when it comes to characters, but backgrounds are a bit lacking in detail. Whether the story is taking place on the streets of Gotham, the caverns of the Batcave, or a pastoral setting at the book’s conclusion, the coloring is brilliant, but the illustrated backgrounds are all too often left completely blank.
So, I liked the characterization for the most part, I liked the new villain, and I liked the art (minus the overuse of blank backgrounds). What I didn’t care for was the brevity of the story. It took no time at all to read. And it was made even worse by these “Batman: Noel” previews accompanying half the DC books out this month. I find myself getting engrossed in a book like “Swamp Thing” or “Animal Man” and I can feel the weight of the paper in my right hand. I know on a subconscious level that there’s still more story to go…but then I turn the page and I’m faced with a 6 page advertisement. It’s a punch in the gut every time and the same thing happens here, only it was a double whammy of a brief-story and the ad pages. Batman and Robin #2 makes a strong case for comic books being over-priced. Had the pages been laid out more economically, more content could have easily been added. Comics used to be around 40-50 pages and cost 10 cents an issue, folks. You take inflation into account and that’s about $1.60 or so today. This book is about 20 pages long, costs $2.99 and can be read in about 5-10 minutes. I can’t recommend this as a buy because it does little to advance the story except for that one scene at the end where we meet the villain and even that leaves you with more questions than answers. And although the Bruce/Damian stuff was okay, it just reiterated what was in issue #1 in a far less interesting way than the paper-boat scene. I’m giving it a 6/10, but let me know in the comments if you think that’s too harsh. After giving a 5 and a 6 recently, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m growing more cynical with every review I do!