Robin: Son of Batman #9 review

Robin 9

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The Boy Wonder is back in town!

This issue was a real pleasant surprise.  Last month, it was indicated that Damian wasn’t finished returning stolen artifacts to their rightful owners.  While I enjoyed the opening salvo that Son of Batman had to offer, it seemed to me that the story arc had wrapped up and I was ready to move onto something new.  Imagine my shock upon opening this book and not only finding out that it wasn’t about artifacts, but that it actually addressed some of my more lingering concerns.

Right from the start, the book had my complete attention.  It opens with an inverted image of Damian swinging over Gotham City.  I’m not sure what prompted this choice, but it really worked for me.  Sometimes when I read a book, I’m distracted by daily tasks that need to be accomplished (like deciding what to have for dinner or fitting in time to do laundry).  With this image, I couldn’t just start reading the book while other thoughts were lingering in the background.  I had to stop and solely focus my attention on what I was looking at.  It allowed me to enter the book, free of personal distractions, and I found the tactic utterly simple and yet equally graceful.

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After that, we finally get a glimpse into what Damian thinks of the fate that has befallen his father, and it was my absolutel favorite part of the entire book.  It presents an emotional longing that cannot be filled; child that will do anything to meet the expectations of his father.  Even though a majority of the Damian/”Bruce” scene is silent, Gleason still manages to clue us in on Damian’s thoughts through the visuals alone.  It’s very powerful and moving.  In a way, it almost feels like the companion piece to Batman and Robin #18.  Except this time, the positions are obviously reversed.  SHOW SPOILER ▼

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Darn.  That’s pretty hardcore!

While out on patrol, Damian runs into a rather bizarre trio of characters.  For those of you not familiar, these are reoccurring Tomasi/Gleason characters.  Bootface is absent from this particular showing, but if you want to brush up on them, you can find their first appearance in Batman and Robin #11+12 (2012).  Personally, I never saw these as the kind of characters who would become a staple for the Batverse.  At the same time, it’s nice to see a callback to the previous series.  Having them here helps tie together the world that Gleason has established.

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I love the way Damian talks.

After Damian hands them their butts, the scene transitions into an encounter with two high-tech wielding weirdos.  This was my least favorite part.  First, I wasn’t too fond of the way in which Damian just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  It just seemed way too convenient.  Then, I was further distracted by the fact that Damian doesn’t use his rebreather during the entirety of a 5 page long underwater scene.  I just couldn’t shake the voice in my head telling me that there was no way he could be holding his breath that long.  While time is not always the easiest thing to pin down in comics, there are some factors to help us out.  One would be the dialogue exchanged.  At the minimum, the scene has to be as long as it would take to say all the words.  From there, you also have to consider the time it takes for actions to occur from one sequential panel to the next.  Everything that happened most likely took between 4 and 5 minutes.  While there are record holders in the real world who can hold their breath for 15 minutes (3 being standard), they do it under optimal conditions.  Damian was swimming…and fighting…and getting hit.  With everything that was going on, I just couldn’t accept what Gleason was asking of me.  SHOW SPOILER ▼

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Pennyworth is unimpressed…

The issue wraps up with Damian returning to the cave, and we have a grand reunion with all his furry little friends.  I’ve always loved the fact that Damian has so many pets.  Maybe he is a trained killer with a dark condescending exterior far beyond his years, but somewhere in there is a little kid that just wants to play with animals.  It’s very endearing.

It should be noted that this issue is slightly out of chronological order with other books.  In the main title, Batman just got his memory restored, but here, we still have a memory wiped version of Bruce.  I’m not holding this little hiccup against the book because this story was supposed to be published last month prior to Batman #49, but was delayed till now because Gleason was sick.  Besides, compared with the typical continuity juggling one has to contend with in order to make sense of the DC Universe, this was no obstacle at all.

Interesting Facts:

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  • The Neal Adams variant cover for this issue.

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  • Original cover alongside Adams’ pencils for the variant.
  • Check out the price point on the original.  $2 for 76 pages!!!!!?!?!?!?!  Nowadays that would run you an easy 10-15 dollars.  How times have changed…..

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  • On the standard cover for this issue, Damian is seen wearing his introductory costume from Batman #655-658 (2006), “Batman and Son”.  I’m not sure why this is on the cover, but it’s still a nice callback.

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  • Damian swearing Goliath into the Batfamily.  Not only does this shot show Damian honoring Batman’s legacy, but shows Gleason honoring the visual legacy of the character as well.  To the right can be seen the original oath taking of Dick Grayson and an homage to that moment done by Alex Ross.

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  • This issue features the entire Damian Wayne menagerie.  Titus the Dog made his first appearance  in Batman and Robin #2 (2011). Everyone’s favorite, Bat-Cow,  came on the scene back in 2012 during the premiere issue of Batman Incorporated.  Bringing up the rear is Alfred Pennyworth the Cat.  He meowed his way into Damian’s heart back in Batman Incorporated #6 (2013).

Recommended if…

  • You want to see Damian finally sound off on his father’s plight.
  • You love Patrick Gleason’s art.
  • You want to see a bunch of great Damian-esque moments and dialogue.

Overall:

I was very pleased with the direction that Gleason choose to take this story in.  While I was expecting to get more artifact recompense, I was instead given a heartfelt tale filled with classic Damian minutiae and outstanding art.  Although it does boast a hoard of quirky villains that some might find off-putting, the trade-off is an excellent scene between father and son that had me begging for more.

SCORE: 8.5 / 10

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