Quarantine Book Club – The Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet

Welcome back to the Batman News Quarantine Book Club, everyone! We’ve got a unique story today in the form of Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet, written by Bruce Canwell and pencilled by Lee Weeks, with colours from Matt Hollingsworth. This story is a one-shot issue that features Dick Grayson as Robin, the day before he’s given the green light to operate as Batman’s sidekick. This book caused a lot of in-depth discussion that went beyond the scope of the comic itself, so definitely check it out if you’d like to hear some dialogue on the state of superhero comics right now – or, most importantly, if you want to hear us gush about a great Robin comic.

Josh: So, what were your thoughts on selecting The Gauntlet? Were you excited to read a Robin-centric story? Specifically a Dick Grayson/ Robin story? I read this book years ago, and I loved it, so I was excited to include it in our Book Club, especially since there aren’t a lot of great, Dick Grayson/ Robin stories out there. 

Nick: I can’t recall the first Robin I really grew up with – possibly Tim? – but Dick Grayson being such an old but integral part of Batman’s journey meant that I’ve always loved seeing him, and considering I don’t know many great stories with him as Robin, this was one I was excited for.

Matina: I was excited to read this! Dick was the first Robin I really recognized, and I tend to really enjoy stories about him, so I was looking forward to this one.

Michael: Damian was probably the first Robin that I read a lot of stories about, but Dick has always been my favorite Robin even if I’ve read far more Nightwing stories. Dick’s tenure as Robin is actually kind of a blind spot in my reading history so I was pretty excited to see he was the lead. 

Josh: Yeah, I think our age, and the fact that Jason or Tim were Robin when most of us were born makes Dick’s tenure as Robin a blindspot for a number of us. I mean, since I’ve been working in comics, I’ve read quite a bit of him as Robin, but I would say 80% of that are stories I wouldn’t have read naturally, outside of the site. Prior to joining Batman News, most of my knowledge of Dick as Robin was from Batman the Animated Series. 

Casper, I know you’ve got a pretty vast reading history. Have you read The Gauntlet before?

Casper: I read this story years ago as well. I honestly couldn’t remember anything about it, but when I reread this, everything clicked and I remembered what this was about. I think I enjoyed rereading it even more than when I read this the first time, and I feel like now this story will stay with me, whereas after my first read I ended up forgetting all the details. It’s a really cool story, too! I’m glad that I got to revisit this.

Josh: Oh, yeah, I’m right there with you. I’ve read this a few times since my first read, and I think I’ve come to appreciate it more and more every time. 

Alright, let’s jump into this. So, the general concept of this story is that before Bruce will let Dick officially become Robin, he has to pass one final test. The point of the test is for Dick to prove he’s capable of not only taking care of himself, but navigating and handling the city…Oh, and he’s going to have Batman on his tail, but he can’t be caught, otherwise he fails. And, because we can’t make this easy, there’s naturally going to be some criminal action involved as well. 

I, personally, love the concept of this story, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Nick, why don’t you start. 

Nick: I like the challenge that Batman leaves for Robin, and while I understand that the added complication of mixing up Robin and Declaine results in a cool dynamic, I also kind of wish we’d seen a story that was solely about the chase between Robin and Batman. I feel like that in and of itself could take up an entire issue, though that’s certainly not objecting to where they went with it here. 

Josh: Uh, I’m not sure I would’ve wanted just that, but I would’ve taken more of that. It is a fun idea. 

Michael: Batman’s challenge for Robin is such a great set up, but the mobster twist I think overall helped Robin’s arc as a crimefighter. Robin trying to outwit Batman an entire issue would’ve been a very nice, heartwarming story, but I really like how Dick finds himself in a real crime situation in the middle of Batman’s test. 

Nick: That’s true for sure, but I guess the concept of Batman really trying to hunt Robin down and Dick pulling out all the stops to evade him really jumped out at me. Maybe that’s another story someone can do?

Matina: I think it added a lot of tension to the story in a way it kind of needed. Without a real threat I think it would have been fun, but maybe not quite as exciting. 

Casper: That’s what I was thinking, Matina. The story definitely needed this.

Nick: Don’t get me wrong, I definitely did like where they went with it! It was cool seeing Robin prioritize doing good over winning the competition with Batman (even though that’s kind of an obvious decision to make), and Batman calling him out for his mistakes at the end. I do think you could make it exciting with the initial premise though; we know Dick’s making it out at the end either way, but we wouldn’t know if he wins or loses the competition. That cat and mouse dynamic is always really fun for me.

Matina: True! Very true, I think it could make a good story. It actually reminded me a little bit of that Injustice flashback where Batman sets Damian out on the town. Though, that’s not the same kind of test. But I think the general idea of testing Robin, and Batman trying to find him is a good one. It’d be another chance to really show off how both of them are different, and why they work so well together.

Casper: While I’d probably enjoy just seeing Batman chase after Robin and all that, I just don’t think it would work for me personally. I just don’t see this chase working when any kind of criminal element is left out. Yes, it would be a fun story, but I don’t think it would make a lot of sense if these two go out into the city to play a cat and mouse game and neglect crime. Of course you could just have them do the cat and mouse and add in some minor muggings that they have to stop along the way, but I think that would be a little bit too basic. Such minor muggings would feel really mandatory and uninspired. So I’d rather have the kind of story that we got in this comic!

Nick: This chase wouldn’t work without the Declaine subplot, yeah; it’d definitely need to be modified.

Josh: You could potentially make it work. It’s been forever since I’ve read this, but Nightwing #25 (pre-Flashpoint) features a story with Dick running an exercise with Tim that he and Bruce used to do. I don’t remember there being any significant threat in the story, but it’s easily one of my favorite issues of Nightwing. So, it is possible, it just needs to be done well. 

I think one of the aspects of “the test” that I liked was Dick’s confidence. I loved that he was leaving clues and riddles for Batman to find in hopes of sending Batman on a wild goose chase around town. I think that’s what I would’ve liked to see more of. 

Matina: Okay I’m going to say it, I love the idea of Robin leaving clues for Batman and leading him on a merry chase. It’s so cheeky and wonderful.

Nick: Yeah! Robin could have spent his time finding a secure place, but instead he wanted to try and taunt Batman, make the night interesting and fun rather than direct; it’s a very supervillain thing to do, which makes it all the more enjoyable when Bruce’s surrogate son does it to fuck with him.

Josh: You say it’s a very supervillain thing to do, and I guess it really is, but I thought, “This is suck a Dick Grayson thing to do.” I love how cheeky he is about it. It’s why I love Dick as a character though. He has a certain sense of joy about him that’s infectious. 

Matina: Haha! Yeah. That aspect of Dick’s personality is something I love about him. He enjoys life, and brings a lot of fun into being Robin. 

Michael: That type of tomfoolery is also what makes me love Dick Grayson as a character. It’s a real fine line between making him a fun loving, likable person and…well annoying and brattish. Nothing he does feels mean spirited.

Casper: It reminded me a little bit of Batman and Robin Annual #1, from the New 52 era, in which Bruce had to follow clues that Damian left for him outside of Gotham, while Damian stayed in Gotham in a small Batsuit so he could be Batman for one night until his dad came home. Both The Gauntlet and that annual are fantastic.

Josh: Did he leave clues in that issue, or was he just acting as Batman because Bruce was out of the country? I guess it doesn’t matter. I just remember thinking that story was excellent! Anyway, carry on. Haha.

Nick: I think Dick represents, in a lot of ways, the kind of vibe people miss from comics; it’s why people were so excited about Rebirth, I think, before it lost direction.

Josh: Oh, absolutely! Rebirth was a return to heroes acting heroic. That’s definitely the same vibe here, and, ultimately, what draws a lot of people to Dick. 

Matina: I agree, there’s something fun, and fresh about him in this. That is the same vibe I had going into Rebirth, and exactly what I miss now.

Nick: Okay, quick sidebar… are we all feeling like comics have been kind of a bummer lately? I don’t know, I haven’t felt refreshed when I read them in a while, with some exceptions. This isn’t to do with the job, I don’t think, because I still get a great feeling from reading older stories, or more creator-driven ones like Harleen or Shadow of the Batgirl… I don’t know. 

Josh: I mean… There is a reason Andrew and I discussed doing this book club. I’m just saying… 

Matina: It’s been something I’ve been feeling for a while too. It feels like so many titles are focused on the doom and gloom, and I want to blame that on all the villain centric events that have been going on, but if I’m being honest they felt that way even before all that started. I know that type of story caters to some people, but it feels like it’s kind of spread through most everything, and as a reader I hate feeling down after I’ve read a comic. That’s why I loved this one so much, it was fun, and fun is why I read comics. 

Nick: Agreed! It’s refreshing to read this story, even if it’s one that was made ages ago.

Casper: Okay, rant incoming, bear with me: My take on the whole thing is that a story like The Gauntlet is very focused and it sets out to accomplish a few things, all of which directly relate to the tone, theme and narrative. It all just connects, and in the end there is a great message of friendship and partnership. Along the way there is adventure, humor, action, tight dialogue, excellent pacing, detective work, and we even get to see Batman being intimidating to criminals. So it combines a number of elements that I like to see in Batman comics, but they never go overboard with that stuff. 

However, in more recent comics — particularly post-Rebirth, but this started well before that — there is so much melodrama, overwritten dialogue, and for some reason creators try to turn so many stories into love letters to older stories or characters that they grew up with. But all that is just a recipe for disaster. I’m not saying that nobody can ever treat a story as a love letter, but when you constantly focus on what you loved growing up, and never think about how to push comics into new territory, at some point comics will kind of stagnate. And sure, Rebirth can be seen as a love letter but, despite that, it still took stories into new directions. For example, Clark, Lois and Jon! That was a great new chapter in Superman’s story, or at least when Tomasi and Gleason were writing it. Case in point: Bendis comes along, and the story regresses into a melodramatic, boring story that many Superman fans are rejecting. The same can be said for recent Batman comics, which I haven’t always been enjoying (although Tomasi’s Detective Comics has been fun). Anyway, tl;dr, stop all the melodramatic, nostalgic love letter crap, and focus on telling a good new story!

Josh: I think you hit two key points here, Casper. And I’ll be brief so we can move on, but, generally speaking, I don’t think the industry has the talent that they used to have. That’s not a dig – there are plenty of talented people in the industry – but we’re losing them as fast as we gain them because they’re moving on to television and film. 

Aside from that, you mentioned nostalgia and focusing on telling a good story. I’m all for nostalgie, and referencing books can be a good way to introduce readers to “old” characters or stories that may fly under the radar… But you have to do something new. You can’t just regurgitate the same story at a lesser quality and expect it to resonate as strongly with people. There needs to be some sort of natural progression (which is also non-existent in comics these days).  And then, yeah, focus on telling a good story. Too many creative teams, editors, or publishers are focused on too many things other than the story. Sometimes you just need to go back to basics. Geoff Johns had the right idea at the launch of Rebirth, and it’s crazy that Didio didn’t carry it forward. 

Matina: This is a sidebar that doesn’t have to be posted, but do you ever get tired of people telling you that if you want fun comics just read the old ones?

Casper: Yes.

Nick: A little. I understand the intention, and there’s a lot of good stuff back there that I haven’t read yet, but if we’re not expecting more of creators here and now, then what are we even doing? Of course you could argue you get the real interesting stuff in the creator-owned scene (which, yeah), but it’s not like superheroes have suddenly lost their touch in the past five years, after nigh a century of content.

Matina: That’s how I see it too, I love that interesting stuff is found in creator owned content, but man? I feel like we should expect the same from the bigger titles.

Casper: I think that the idea of “comics growing up” shouldn’t be about making them darker, and relying once again on that old deconstruction trope from the 80s. If comics are to continue growing up, we have to try new things. I honestly believe that this is still possible. Anyone who claims that it’s nearly impossible to do new things because these characters have been around for so long might have to read and write more stuff that’s outside their comfort zone, and maybe look for inspiration outside of the comic books that they have become so accustomed to. Of course we can’t change the face of comic storytelling overnight, as this is a gradual process, but I believe it can definitely be done in a way that respects the old stories and still pushes these characters into new territories.

Nick: I get excited for a select few stories lately; Three Jokers, Green Lantern, a few of the more standalone books, those are stories that interest me for being bold. But direction – or a lack thereof – is something that readers can pick up on when reading a comic, I think, and recently I haven’t felt much of that across the board. It’s likely just a dip, and comics always have their ups and downs, but man am I ready for the upswing.

Matina: Agreed! (I dunno I feel like there would be a little more direction if writers had a chance to actually tell stories instead of being cut off all the time by events, but that feels like I’m getting very off topic now.)

Nick: Maybe we can ask the readers if they’d be interested in a roundtable about the state of comics right now, and “event fatigue”? It happened with Marvel earlier in the 2010’s, and seems to be plaguing DC right now.

Matina: That sounds like a great idea.  

Josh: Yeah, I think we should just do it. I have a lot of comments on this, but I will end with this. While it might be frustrating to hear, “just read old comics,” there is a point to it. If you stop buying or supporting comics that just aren’t delivering, and you start buying and supporting older comics, then you’re sending a clear message to publishers of the content you desire. That’s why I try to be so vocal with comics that I feel deserve more attention, and quiet about comics that are just mediocre or bad. 

Anyway… We’ll plan some key conversations, but for now, let’s get back to The Gauntlet. We’ve touched on the criminal elements of this book, so I want to highlight them. The antagonist here takes us back to street crime, which is fitting since we’re discussing the “beginnings” of a vigilante in Gotham. So, what did you think of Delcaine and his crew?

Michael: These are the type of mobsters I like to see in comics. They have a lot of personality in their dialogue and even their names. There’s this great page where you have them assembling a hit squad of mobsters to track Robin down and they have names like Kent Hollywood and Mike the Lam. That’s the good stuff.

Matina: Michael, I thought of you when reading the dialogue with the mobsters, I was like “Ah! Here it is, good and proper mobster talk.”

Josh: Haha! I thought of him as well!

Michael: All I’ve wanted out of life is for people to think of me when you see a slime bag mobster archetype.

Josh: You’re welcome. Haha!

Matina: I liked that they were more present here than they’ve been in other stories we’ve read. They really felt well balanced with the other part of the story focused on Batman and Robin, and as the two started to blend together I think it worked really well. I don’t know if this makes sense or not, but they felt like a threat Robin could handle easily, but also were enough trouble for Batman to be involved. 

Casper: The mobsters are great in this. I think the creative team had fun writing/drawing them. Particularly their dialogue was entertaining to read. And these mobsters are big enough to be the villains of this story, but still feel a lot more grounded than most colorful supervillains. With Robin running around in his costume, and Batman lurking in the shadows, and their fun cat and mouse game, I think using these type of mobsters as antagonists is a good choice. Not only because this is still early in Batman’s career, but mainly because a more well-known villain might have been too big for this type of story.

Josh: That’s a good point that I didn’t think about, Casper. Using a bigger name like Two-Face or Scarecrow would’ve definitely taken away from the story itself. 

Nick: Eh, 0/10. No mention of breaking kneecaps.

Josh: I’ll make a special copy and edit that in for you, Nick. 

Nick: Sign it for me! <3

Josh: Anyway, as we all know, the moment the thugs become more present in the story and turn their attention to Robin, the mission itself changes. Let’s discuss this shift in the direction of the plot a little more, specifically, Batman’s observance of Robin, and even interference from the shadows. 

Nick: Batman secretly shadowing Robin and helping him through his test made for some really fun scenes, especially near the end.

Casper: Batman appearing toward the end, without Robin realizing it, to scare the mob boss — that’s my favorite panel in the book!

Michael: It’s also funny how when Batman tries to intimidate Joe Minette from doing anything to Robin, it actually puts a bigger target on his back. I like to think Batman’s emotions got in the way of his logical reasoning there and in any other scenario he’d know that by intimidating Minette he’d only make things worse.

Nick: I kind of felt like Batman should have seen that coming, honestly.

Michael: He definitely should’ve, so I’m giving the script some leeway by coming up with an excuse for it. You’re welcome The Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet. 

Nick: You should be grateful to have Michael, The Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet. Most comic books go their entire lives without having a licensed story justifier™ like him. Heroes in Crisis should be so lucky.

Matina & Josh: Hahaha. 

Casper: I actually like that scene a lot. I chalk it up to this still being relatively early in Batman’s career. He is still getting used to the idea of having a partner, and might be overly protective for that reason. Especially since he let Robin run around the city all by himself. Batman is aware of the dangers, so he wants to do everything he can to keep his boy safe, and in doing so, he makes a mistake. I’ll buy that.

Josh: I’d also add in that since this is far enough into Batman’s career that super villains have arrived and with Batman being less of an urban legend, these fear tactics have often worked with “low level” criminals. So, it didn’t really bother me too much. 

Nick: I’d say the script in general could use some work overall, but that’s coming from the side of me that dislikes cheesy dialogue. That side of me is a coward, and should stay in the dark along with my positive opinions towards Suicide Squad. This dialogue is fun, and fits perfectly with the tone of what the book is going for; even if I had the occasional double-take at one of Robin’s exclamations, or Batman’s intonation.

Matina: I loved the cheesy dialogue, and I agree it does really fit the tone of the book.

Michael: I really like the over the top Batman dialogue in this. There’s something very satisfying in a pure black panel with a big ol’ “THUMP” sound effect and Batman yelling “That’s a promise!” when beating up a thug.

Casper: The dialogue is awesome! It’s very pulpy, and I love that. I’m a big fan of pulp, and especially in a Batman comic I prefer this kind of dialogue over the super realistic dialogue (although it does depend on the type of story — there are exceptions, of course).

Matina: Beyond just dialogue though, I liked that initially Robin stops the bad guys, and then just goes right back to laying out clues for Batman instead of taking the cards to Gordon. It shows how new he really is at all this, even if he’s got the physical skills to handle the thugs. 

Michael: It’s hilarious when Robin finds the “dirty” deck of cards and just thinks that Gordon is into weird stuff rather than realizing it’s a clue.

Josh: Oh, innocence. 

Casper: One other thing that I’d like to bring up is the fact that Batman lets Robin go out on his own for a bit. Reading this story, I can imagine people criticizing that aspect, because why on Earth would Batman let a boy jump across rooftops and potentially get into alley brawls all on his own, wearing a brightly colored costume, no less?! But to me that kind of criticism just isn’t entirely relevant, because it’s a fantastical adventure comic. I think it’s something younger readers can enjoy as well. I know I would’ve loved this story as a 12-year-old! In any case, I was wondering what you guys think about this.

Nick: I really enjoyed how Batman handled Robin this issue. It was cool to see Batman “scold” Robin at the end, showing that he paid close attention to what he did and didn’t do right – but it was more in the form of constructive criticism. I think Batman really did something right when he made Robin, disregarding the child endangerment.

Michael: I always try to justify the whole child endangerment angle by it representing a parent’s struggle between coddling and letting their kid find their way in the world. Obviously, basically everything in the comic world is ridiculously dangerous, but I always get slightly confused when people take it so literally. The final moments between Batman and Dick are very touching, even if it revolves around a pornographic deck of playing cards containing a microdot.

Casper: I like that idea, Michael, that Batman and Robin stories are really just an exaggerated take on a parent’s struggles. Of course it would be exaggerated in the comic book world — everything is exaggerated in that world!

Matina: Yeah, you can really tell that he is proud of everything Dick accomplished, even if he’s got some learning to do. I think this book really illustrates how doing Batman and Robin works though, with a Batman who has a careful eye on Robin and isn’t going to let him be in too much danger. I also think Bruce lays out the reasons well when he’s talking to Alfred about it, it is something Dick needs, and he seems dedicated to making sure it works and Dick stays safe. Which, I think is why he reacts so strongly in Robin Year One when Dick does get really hurt.

Nick: I really need to actually read that.

Michael: I’ve had it downloaded and ready to read for like a month now. I have no excuse.

Casper: Definitely read that. You can read it as a followup to The Gauntlet. Or the other way around, depending which one you read first. It’s a lot of fun! And I agree with you, Matina. Every time that you think Dick is actually in danger, Batman is right behind him to keep him safe.

Josh: I have ideas for upcoming books, so just hold tight. 

As for putting a child in danger… While I do think there are parental aspects with Bruce concerning Dick, I also think Bruce has the mindset that he and Dick are brothers, and kind of one in the same. I’ve always thought that Bruce was blinded to a degree by the desires he felt as a kid when he lost his parents, and that need for an outlet because of it. We know he tends to see Dick in the same light – even though Dick is very different than him – and that he views this as helping protect Dick because he assumes Dick would pursue “justice” in one way or another.

Nick: To be honest, I wasn’t putting much thought into the “child endangerment” thing, other than I find the disconnect of a kid in red and green tights vs a gangster with a gun to be really funny. I agree with all of this though!

Josh: Yeah, I honestly didn’t think much of this during the story itself. I was just commenting since it was brought up. But, yes, a kid in red and green tights is hilarious… especially when facing mobsters. 

Alright, we’re starting to reach that point. Let’s turn to the art – delivered by the incredible Lee Weeks – before we wrap this up with our final thoughts. 

Nick: Yes, onto the art- oh, wonderful! More indecipherable cursive in my comic books. :’)

Matina: I thought the same exact thing, haha! 

Michael: I’ve just come to terms with cursive and zoom in my iPad much more diligently. But yeah, it stinks.

Nick: It got a little better once you got the hang of it, and Robin’s narration was perfectly legible, but it was definitely frustrating. 

Josh: You babies… We’re going to be known as the crew who does nothing but complain about cursive! Haha! LEE WEEKS! Haha!  


The rest of the art really jumped out at me, though – it was a nice blend of realistic and audacious, which is a fine line to walk in superhero comics.

Casper: Lee Weeks for president!

Michael: Weeks’ work here is some of my favorite of all the books we’ve read so far. There’s this splash page near the end with Batman standing on some crates above Robin as he’s confronted by a mobster that I literally gasped at. What I think is so impressive about Weeks’ pencils are that he makes Batman feel like a real human. He isn’t huge with muscles and his poses are almost lackadaisical, but still makes him feel powerful, almost effortlessly so.

Matina: That was one of my favorite moments too, it was phenomenal!

Nick: It’s a talent not everyone is capable of; Mitch Gerads is one of the others that comes to mind.

Casper: Dude, this is by far my favorite art from all the books that we discussed. I honestly had forgotten that Weeks was on art duties here, so when I picked up this comic and saw his name on the cover, I dropped everything to read this.

Josh: Same. I’d forgotten he provided the art, so when I saw his name, I was like, “Really? Hmm… Yep, reading this now.”

Casper: Weeks has such a great eye for sequential storytelling. It’s so fluid. He makes it look easy. I also think it’s kind of funny that Weeks draws Bats in his Year One suit here, which he also did during Tom King’s run after the Mr. Freeze arc. Comparing the two renditions, it’s remarkable how consistent they are. His more recent art is more refined, I’d say, but it’s not like his style has changed much. You look at his Batman then and his Batman now, and it’s still the very same character, instantly recognizable as a Weeks rendition. That’s impressive, seeing as a lot of artists do change their styles over time. With Weeks I feel like he didn’t change it, but rather perfected it — insofar perfection is even possible in art.

Josh: Plus, there’s a certain noir element to Weeks work that I think is fitting for Batman. 

Matina: You know what other scene I thought was just really cool? At the very start when Batman blinds the thugs, I found myself literally blinking at the page! The colors there were so well done and the whole scene was very cool.

Also, thinking about it now the scene with the fireworks at the end is a nice callback to the opening one. 

Nick: Really nice way to end the story – Batman smiling at Robin at different points throughout the story felt really gratifying, seeing Bruce become proud that he made something truly, definitively positive out of the ordeal he suffered long ago. Weeks captures that perfectly.

Josh: I couldn’t agree more! Alright, final thoughts. 

Matina: It’s a good book, go read it. 

Nick: It’s a good book, go read it!

Michael: It’s a good book. Read it. 

Josh: I guess I’ll join the bandwagon. It’s a good book! Go read it!

Michael: Now that we’ve effectively added variety to our final thoughts, here’s some more.

Matina: I had a lot of fun reading this book. It does a great job telling its story in a complete way that also leaves it open for more adventures. And adventure is really what I get from it, it’s a test for Robin yes, but it takes readers on a wild ride through Gotham, has Robin really stepping into the hero role, and gives you a Batman who is both on the case and keeping an eye on Robin. It’s just–fun. I think it really encapsulates the feeling of Batman and Robin that I love to see in comics.

Nick: I think the fact that the book doesn’t overstay its welcome is a big selling point for me. It’s exactly as long as it needs to be, which is great because you get a meaty yet concise read. Its story is simple, but wonderfully-executed, and it has a very satisfying and uplifting feeling about it. Definitely feels like an essential book to introduce you to Dick, as it captures his spirit near-effortlessly.

Michael: The length is absolutely perfect. I think this book is deceptively robust despite its shortened length compared to some fully fledged arcs. The craft is incredibly high, each action scene ups the intensity but also fleshes out the characters, and the tone is perfectly balanced between a hard boiled mob story and an endearing “father/son” tale between Batman and Robin.

Casper: This is my favorite book from all the book club articles that we’ve done so far. It’s focused, it’s concise, it’s fun, it’s entertaining — it’s everything that I want from a Batman comic. There’s detective work, Robin has a prominent role, there are mobsters, the dialogue is really pulpy but so good. And, of course, Lee Weeks is killing it! If you come across it as you look for comics you haven’t read yet, be sure to pick it up. Enthusiastically recommended!

Josh: There are a number of books that I view as “special” in the Batman mythology, and Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet is one of them. This is a fantastic story of Dick Grayson earning the right to be Robin in Batman’s eyes, and is fantastically illustrated by Lee Weeks. And yes, this is definitely a staple in my Batman canon!

Thank you for joining us this week! With the world slowly reopening and things returning to normal, this will actually be our final Quarantine Book Club entry. That said, we will be relaunching in July as the Batman News Book Club! Until then, catch up on any Book Club entries you missed, and check back with us in July! We’re open to suggestions for more content to discuss, and sound off in the comments if you have any thoughts about what we spoke about today.