My initial knee jerk reaction to this story was one of slight annoyance. Are we seriously going to have Alfred and Damian together and not have them discuss Bruce? Had a Batman-News commenter not filled me in on the behind-the-scenes workings for this particular issue, you’d be reading a mini-rant right about now. It turns out that Gleason, the primary writer for this series, got sick over the holidays and in order to stay on schedule with releases, they had Fawkes step in to handle things during his recovery. Knowing this, I will be much more lenient than I might have been otherwise. But I’ll tell you this much: if I don’t get to see some relevant Damian/Alfred stuff fairly soon, you can bet that little rant will still be forthcoming. As it stands, I am hoping DC merely decided to postpone the interaction I was looking for and is allowing Gleason to handle it instead of his stand-in. Now, onto the issue.
If you missed-out on the first 6 issues of Robin: S.O.B, then Heart of Ice is the perfect story to give you a taste of what you missed. Fawkes essentially follows the formula established by Gleason during the Year of Blood story arc. Since this issue is more of a placeholder than anything, it was smart of Fawkes not to try and do anything too radical. This way, regular readers aren’t thrown off by an out of left field story, and as I already stated, new readers get a sense of what the book has been about. It’s both safe and referential.
The Year of Blood story arc was about Damian atoning for his past transgressions; years ago, during his training, Damian had a year long mission given to him by his mother and grandfather in which he stole many artifacts from civilizations around the world in order to prove his worthiness. The initial story arc from this title was all about returning those items to their rightful owners in order to wipe his slate clean. This story is essentially about Damian telling Alfred a story about him returning the Spear of Bing Lei to it’s rightful owners…in which he also tells Maya a story about how he stole it in the first place. That’s a lot of stories within stories within stories. But don’t worry, I’m making it sound more confusing than it actually is.
While I’d like to take the time to break down the intricacies and nuances that make this story pop, the truth of the matter is, it’s quite simple. Fight some bad guys, make some jokes, and have a battle royale with your inner-demons. Saying that it’s simple might not be a praise, but it also wasn’t meant as an insult either. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back, relax, and read a good old-fashioned comic that’s sole purpose is to entertain…and maybe teach a small lesson for those willing to hear it.
Is her mask wincing?
Ramon Bachs handles art for this issue, and I could be wrong here, but I believe that this is the Ramon Bachs who handled several different DC properties throughout the 2000s. Credits included: Detective Comics, LotDK, Streets of Gotham, Azrael, and Red Robin. If it is him, I find it serendipitous that he is working on Damian/Robin, who is also an Al Ghul. You see, his work on Red Robin involved Tim against Ra’s Al Ghul. There is just something about cyclical nature that I find very fulfilling. But this little trip down memory lane is neither here nor there. Let’s talk about the art!
That statue monster totally looks like something from a Norm Breyfogle issue.
There is something about the art that I find delightful. It’s not hyper-detailed, but also not without solid form. And nary a page goes by without some kind of action or motion line filling a panel or two. It’s nostalgic looking, animated, simple, and fun. It just speaks to the child in me. While I’m not going to tout this as the next best thing, it’s definitely better than just standard.
Maybe it’s just me, but I was totally getting a Padme vibe from Maya’s winter gear.
- Heart of Ice was also the title of the 14th episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It featured the first appearance of Mister Freeze within the series.
- On my second read through, I noticed this line of dialogue.
- Seems like this is another hidden reference to an alternate Mister Freeze episode from Batman: The Animated Series?
- Am I just looking for this stuff and that is why I find it, or do you think these are intentionally hidden Easter Eggs? Last week’s issue of Batman and Robin Eternal also had several titles hidden among the dialogue.
- You wanna read an old-fashioned story that isn’t tied up in the awesomeness of itself, but just wants to show you a good time.
While nothing in this story is truly ground breaking, it’s still a fun little done-in-one. Full of action, humor, introspection, and the ever popular; battling ones own inner-demons. If your looking for something earth-shattering that will move you to your very core, I suggest you move along, but if you just want to read a nice solid comic for entertainment’s sake alone, this will do just fine.
SCORE: 7.5 / 10