Batman vs. Robin #2 review

Batman vs. Robin #2 delivers a spectacle of exposition, clearly establishing the stakes and motivations of every character. It’s a risky endeavor, but Mahmud Asrar’s sense of style and Mark Waid’s sense of humor elevate what could have been a dry read into a thrilling, and often funny, chapter.

Right from the start, Waid’s script dives fully into the more heightened aspect of the DC Universe by opening in Atlantis with two of Nezha’s allies attacking the city. The sorcerer Jinx and Tannarak easily take down the Atlantean guards by filling the water with nitrogen, smothering everyone but them. Now armed with a mystic gem that doubles as a portal to the Darkworld, Nezha and his minions are even more prepared to introduce more magical shenanigans to the series. Just like last issue, Waid does a good job of simplifying the stakes and keeping the action simplistic despite the tendency for these types of storylines to get overwhelmed by various mystic powers with vague effects. Asrar’s pencils and Jordie Bellaire’s colors render this Atlantis scene extremely well. Bellaire gives the entire scene a green and blue palette, befitting the setting, which pleasantly contrasts with the eerie red glow of the gem as it emits its aura. Steve Wands’ letters also carry themselves well, especially with the red trimmed dialogue bubbles that enclose the Atlantean guards’ orders, giving them a sense of power and authority. This power is then immediately lost when the dialogue bubbles return to normal as they slowly smother to death at Tannarak’s hands.

Credit: Mahmud Asrar, Jordie Bellaire, Steve Wands

Nezha’s scenes with Mother Soul and Black Alice aren’t immediately as gripping, but it’s good that Waid establishes exactly what the evil duo is up to. After his minions retrieve Ragman’s Soul Suit, Nezha then commands Black Alice to transfer its energy into Doctor Fate’s helmet. This sequence works because of Black Alice’s reluctance to do so, lending some drama and empathy to the scene as Damian watches, questioning whether or not torturing Black Alice is truly necessary. While Waid does his best to inject these scenes with enough bombast and shock value, there is an inevitable desire to return to Bruce and Alfred’s journey. Nonetheless, Asrar’s compositions are just the right amount of otherworldly, subtly using some canted compositions to make the environment and Nezha himself look all the more mysterious and powerful.

Credit: Mahmud Asrar, Jordie Bellaire, Steve Wands

Luckily, Waid then returns focus to Bruce and Alfred as they take down Felix Faust who is being driven mad by a psychic attack. After, knocking Faust out to save him from himself, Bruce and Alfred suddenly find themselves in the front yard of the House of Secrets. While Waid uses magic to simply have the building appear in front of the two, I can’t help but appreciate the quick pace even if it feels a little sudden and easy. The bulk of the issue takes place inside the House of Secrets as Bruce and Alfred are given a tour and promised answers by Abel himself. What follows are several sequences where reality shifts around Bruce and Alfred as they experience illusions that conveniently explain Damian’s experiences in his Robin solo series. This initial flashback “experience” feels a little too clean for Bruce and Alfred to witness and therefore exposes its true mission to catch up readers who didn’t read Josh Williamson’s Robin.

Despite the overt exposition at hand, Waid pumps up the spooky, camp factor up as Bruce and Alfred next take seats in a small theater, led by a skeleton usher, to witness the next major plot reveal. The result is the full explanation of Mother Soul’s plan and exactly how she tricked Damian into joining her side. The ultimate reveal will land with more bombast for readers of Waid’s currently running World’s Finest series, but the result is still satisfying for anyone only reading this book. Asrar’s compositions maintain a consistent, yet tasteful, otherworldly atmosphere with continued usage of canted angles and dramatic figure work. The meshing of Asrar’s terrifying panel of Bruce submerged in Lazarus Resin with Waid’s over the top dialogue nails the near kitsch aesthetic of it all. Waid’s dialogue definitely teeters on the old school, but I quite enjoy seeing Batman question things out loud and repeating key phrases to lend the reader guidance on his thought processes.

Credit: Mahmud Asrar, Jordie Bellaire, Steve Wands

The issue wraps up with more psychedelic craziness as the House of Secrets fully turns on Bruce and Alfred after giving them the information they needed. There’s another fight between Bruce and Damian, except this time Damian fully has the upper hand as he literally puppeteers everything around Bruce to crash down on him. There’s a great moment where Damian concludes that Batman’s confidence is his downfall, as he clearly baits his father into a trap he knows he can’t resist taking on. Despite Damian’s true nature being corrupted, it’s clever for Waid to utilize the bond between Damian and Bruce in their game of cat and mouse.

The book ends with a couple of intriguing cliffhangers. One is Damian being gifted his own Batsuit by Mother Soul and a squadron of “Robins” which consist of (presumably mind controlled) Tim, Dick, Stephanie, and Jason. This leaves me a little wary as I think keeping the focus on Bruce and Damian is the better choice, but time will tell how much of an impact that Bat family really has.

The second reveal is more concerning as the final page has Alfred’s shadow cast the shape of Devil Nezha himself, implying Alfred is under his control, or worse…a fake construct entirely. Even if the series falters by the end, I was hoping Alfred’s return would be the one thing that lasted. This development casts some doubt on that, but anything goes in a magic oriented storyline.

Recommended if…

  • The appearance of The House of Secrets is enough to pique your interest.
  • You don’t mind a well done, but still heavily expository issue.
  • The prevalence of magic and an “anything goes” attitude is up your alley.


Batman vs. Robin #2 is a risky, yet still satisfying expository issue that clarifies most of the nagging questions from last month. You can argue that not much truly happens in the issue, but the backward looking nature of the storyline works when the craft is at such a high level. Despite the story’s grisly high stakes, Mark Waid’s script and Mahmud Asrar’s pencils are so energetic and joyous that the entire endeavor is more fun than dour. There are a couple of worrying developments in the final pages, but Waid has proven that trusting him usually works out.

Score: 7.5/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.