As we begin to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Robin, the Boy Wonder’s future is shining brighter than ever. Along with Damian’s solo title, past and present Robins are receiving the limelight in upcoming titles. Harper Row, Cassandra Cain, and the spectacular Dick Grayson will feature in the recently announced Batman and Robin Eternal, which is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Also released from DC during San Diego Comic Con was news of the crossover story, Robin War. Damian returns to Gotham to discover a new Batman and a troop of young teens who have started a movement inspired by the Robin persona. The crossover spans over three titles, and will serve as a Robin centric event that will hopefully incorporate all of the Robins. While all of this is on the horizon, the sun is just rising on Damian’s solo adventure.

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Following last month’s debut, Robin is setting out on his journey of atonement. Making up for the crimes he committed during his violent Year of Blood, issue #2 delves deeper into this dark chapter of young Damian’s life. I already knew I was in for a treat as soon as I saw the first page. A visibly younger Damian stands over his mother in a victorious pose, having defeated her in one of her many tests of the adolescent assassin. A similar scene has been shown before in Batman and Robin #0. Every year for Damian’s birthday, Talia issues a very deadly test for him to pass to advance to his next level of training. If you can recall Damian’s origin, he met his father after his tenth birthday. In this flashback, the future Boy Wonder is at the dawn of his ninth birthday–the Year of Blood. They proceed with a ceremony to mark the occasion with Talia, Ra’s, and the League of Assassins all present.

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The dichotomy of the story is the key concept in the issue and the title in general. I really enjoyed how Gleason took the opportunity to explore Damian’s past and contrast it with his present. As part of his atonement, Robin returns the head of a stone guardian that he stole during the his trial year. The guardian protects the South American village, but with its head gone the stone defender has remained dormant. However, once whole again, the temple guardian comes to life, and assaults Robin and Goliath. It’s attacks have the ability to turn their targets into statues for the temple. A crowd of villagers look on in disbelief and awe as Robin and his pet griffin wage battle against their town’s protector. As the fight drags on, Nobody II is seen watching from the sidelines. Robin catches a glimpse of her when he recognizes Nobody’s signature eye mask pattern. I assumed it was similar to how Predator looked in the movies when his invisibility cloak was activated. Nobody II is forced to intervene once innocent bystanders are at risk of injury. That’s an interesting twist for Nobody and her motives. Her father, the original Nobody, was driven by hatred and revenge against Bruce Wayne. Nobody II harbors hard feelings against Robin for crimes he committed as Damian al Ghul, but she seems more noble in her cause. Her father was undoubtedly a villain, where Nobody II has a vigilante spirit about her. This provides a compelling plot device to work with as the two rivals traverse through the arc.

Spoiler
During Robin’s first visit to the temple, he steals a priceless sword that is reminiscent of those big Final Fantasy swords some of the characters sport. Later, on his second visit, Robin explains to the temple guard that he no longer had the sword, but would attempt to return the treasure when he was able. The guardian informed him that the sword was not the treasure, that it was something deeper. I viewed this as a metaphor. A sign for Robin to keep searching, look for something deeper. Something that truly matters and that he can treasure.

Without any surprise, I find Patrick Gleason’s pencils to be beyond amazing. Robin’s uniform hasn’t greatly changed from Gleason and Tomasi’s Batman and Robin title, but little small accents on his tunic and cape give it a regal feel. Small attention to detail such as this adds to Damian’s personality as he flies solo to really come into his own. Robin: Son of Batman is a colorful book compared to the dark streets of Gotham. When Damian, Nobody II, and Goliath are attacked by the temple guardian, an array of fiesta colors cover the panels. Havimg rhe characters turn to stone was a stunning sight for the eyes. The pages look amazing. Honestly, they’re funny looking panels. Damian even complains about going out in this manner, and being disappointed if it actually happened. Colorist John Kalisz receives some help from Jeremy Cox, and the two splash the pages with the perfect hues to enhance Gleason and Mick Gray’s work. You have no idea how happy I am to have an amazing Damian/Robin book that has great dialogue and even better illustrations. There’s a very neat scene that shows Robin fighting while smaller panels show Nobody II rescuing South American citizens simultaneously. The battle with the guardian and the unexpected team up with Nobody are very entertaining, especially with help from the amazing art team.

Psychedelic Robin
Psychedelic Robin

Recommended if:

  • You’re a fan/interested in Damian or Robin
  • You dream of owning your own pet griffin
  • You want to explore Damian’s past
  • You enjoy festive colors

Overall: 

The Born to Kill arc in Batman and Robin was one of my favorite volumes not only from the New52, but in general. Gleason adding another layer to that storyline is smart. That was a pivotal time and Bruce and Damian’s life, so as of now, it’s working well during this important time in Robin’s life. Digging into Damian’s past is a highlight for me, so I’m all onboard for issues such as this. I’m excited for what else is in store during the Year of Blood, and more importantly the Year of Atonement.

SCORE: 8 / 10