Batman and Robin was one of my favorite titles and was one of the main reasons I got into monthlies. I was heavily invested in Grant Morrison’s entire Batman run and stuck with B&R even after the change from Morrison to Tomasi and Dick to Bruce. Batman and Robin was a colorful exploration of the relationship between father and son as the Dynamic Duo learned to trust one another, pulling themselves closer and away from their extreme polar opposites. The title was a visually stunning, emotional roller coaster that really personified the bond between the new Batman & Robin.

Naturally, I was saddened when that run had to end, but I was excited that Damian’s story would continue in the pages of Robin: Son of Batman. Back in 2013, Andy Kubert had released Damian: Son of Batman. I was really excited for that title because 1) Andy Kubert (or any of the Kuberts to be honest) is amazing when it comes to his pencils and 2) I was just happy to see Damian in a title with his tragic death coming months prior. That mini series was a look into an older Damian assuming the daunting role of Batman. Unfortunately, Kubert’s writing did not match his impeccable art, and readers were left with a sour taste in their mouths for the young al Ghul. It was only four issues, but I could only stomach two.

For Robin: Son of Batman, artist Patrick Gleason is trying his hand at writing as well as the pencils. I was a bit worried after being let down by the other Damian title, but the fact that the art team from Batman and Robin were joining Gleason on his new book helped ease my worries just a tad. Peter J. Tomasi was excellent in his storytelling and capturing emotional moments, but I’m positive that Pat worked closely with him in creating the stories. Not to mention, Gleason, Mick Gray and John Kalisz all helped bring those tales to life.

So with all of that out of the way, let’s dive into Damian’s new story. I’m not sure if this will be the case for the most of the book, but most of this issue takes place outside of Gotham City. We join Damian in the fictional country of Bialya. Apparently, his pet griffin Goliath helped himself to a few of the ruler’s blessed cows and was captured as a result. After a failed negotiation between Robin and the Bialyan ruler Abush, a fight ensues and the Boy Wonder and his enormous Man-Bat…I mean griffin, bring the thunder!

A full glimpse at the size of Goliath
A full glimpse at the size of Goliath

The story takes a quick turn into a flashback to show Damian training ferociously in the Batcave. Robin’s pets make an appearance during this sequence as well. I’m not sure why, but I love seeing Titus, Alfred the Cat, and Bat Cow. I guess because I look at them as remnants of a time when the Bat family and their allies were all together. Anyway, Damian retires to his quarters and finds a note with a humongous sundae waiting for him. The note states that someone was going out alone and that even the Son of Batman needed his rest. I assume the note is from is father, but I’m not 100% positive.

Spoiler
I read DC’s interview with Patrick Gleason about this book, and he stated that this book focuses on Robin and his journey, and doesn’t really comment on Bruce’s current state; at least not initially. The letter Damian found in his room voids my theory, but I thought it’d be a nice touch if this picture was a brief moment of Damian grieving for his father.

[caption id="attachment_21046" align="aligncenter" width="1073"]Tears for a fallen bat? Tears for a fallen bat?[/caption]

The story returns back to the present as it shows what happened right before Robin headed to Bialya. He needed to retrieve his whistle that he uses to reign in Goliath. This was a very cool set of panels because it shows Robin’s new base of operations on al Ghul Island. This is the same island where he released his deformed clones at the end of Batman and Robin. Hopefully those Sons of Batman come into play later on. The main reason for showing this island, and what seems to be the focus for this arc is a vault in Robin’s lair referred to as the Year of Blood. The Year of Blood was part of Damian’s training years before heading to Gotham after his 10th birthday (they actually state Damian as eleven in this book. Finally, the boy has aged!). During the Year of Blood, Damian killed a large number of people and collected various items from them as “trophies”. He kept them locked away in this vault. Damian was very reluctant to even touch the door as those memories now haunt the reformed child. He then heads off to retrieve his griffin. That’s when we return to the fight in the beginning scene. Robin and Goliath crash through the window and make a daring escape. Robin passes out due to Goliath flying too high, but not before he instructs the beast to take them home.

Gleason writes and illustrates a very nightmarish scene while Robin is knocked out. This was something that he did really well in B&R. It is an incredible scene that really speaks to Damian’s fears. One thing that was awesome about is that we get a reunion of Dick & Damian. I was really happy when I saw that. It actually took me a second to realize that it was a dream sequence.

Spoiler

[caption id="attachment_21048" align="aligncenter" width="1076"]Damian has some creepy nightmares Damian has some creepy nightmares[/caption]

It’s great that Mick Gray and John Kalisz have contributed to this project. They really are a formidable team and their titles usually have some of the best art out on the shelves. The small little details that Pat illustrates in the book really are a treat. Like I mentioned before, they show the island where Damian freed his deformed clones. You can even spot two of them when Robin arrives. Also, while in his room you can see two “trophies” that Damian claimed when trying to prove he was the best Robin (Jason Todd’s mask and one of Nightwing’s Escrima sticks). These small little details really add to the overall feel of the story. As per usual, the creative team knocks it out of the park in the art department.

Recommended if:

  • You enjoyed Tomasi Gleason’s Batman and Robin 
  • You’re a fan of Damian Wayne
  • You wish you had a pet bat griffin Last Guardian type pet
  • You want to find out more about this YEAR OF BLOOD.

Overall:

Honestly, there’s a lot going on in this book. Robin is hoping to make atonement for his Year of Blood, but unbeknownst to him, someone is plotting their revenge. A mysterious figure from Bruce’s past named Morgan Ducard aka Nobody was killed by Damian in volume one of Batman and Robin (Morgan was the son of Bruce’s mentor, Henri Ducard). Morgan’s daughter has apparently taken up the Nobody mantle and vows revenge for the death of her father. As if that wasn’t enough, Talia al Ghul has also returned to the land of the living (seen alive at the end of B&R). However, she’s attacked by something, and I had know clue what exactly happened. You don’t get to see who attacked her, and she also greets him in another lamguage. Quite a bit is crammed into this book and it may take a couple reads to really get a grasp on everything, but this was definitely a step in the right direction. I’d like to see where Damian first came into contact with Goliath. Also, when did he actually set up base on al Ghul island and get his own servant in the form of Ravi? I’m trying to remember if this was an old servant from when he lived with his mother, but it doesn’t ring a bell. Hopefully, the team work hard to keep churning out top quality material.

SCORE: 8 / 10