Batman and Robin are back again this month picking up directly where the previous issue left off. Last time, I had some reservations but on the whole felt this book was shaping up pretty well. My question now is, will the creative team build off their groundwork in an interesting way? Let’s see!
The bottom line is, this comic still has its strong points and it’s still entertaining enough that I think it’s worth reading. Nevertheless, it is a bit perturbing how little development we see here. What should be the highlight is Damian’s first day of school. I love stories focused on superhero’s private lives. In fact, my favorite parts of Tim Drake’s 90s series were the moments when he was at school or hanging out with his school friends. Obviously, then, I’m going to be excited to see Damian take on something similar. Unfortunately, what we’ve seen so far isn’t quite living up to my expectations. First, there’s the fact that Damian only spends about ten minutes at school and leaves before attendance is taken in his first period to go fight crime. I’d rather the whole issue was Damian’s first day of school but that was never going to happen. At least I could hope we’d see more than a brief introduction to the principal, a teacher, and a bully; the end. I also wasn’t impressed with the way this scene plays out. So far, it’s reading more like a bunch of 80s high school comedy clichés than an actual lived-in relatable environment. My high school experiences are not going to be the same as everyone else’s but this just doesn’t feel very authentic to me, which is disappointing. Still, we’ve seen little enough that I hold out hope that with further exploration, things will get better.
On the superheroic side of things, we get our first introduction to Shush. It’s rather unceremonious. There’s no big reveal, she just shows up. I don’t have a big problem with that, but I would like to know what her significance is beyond being a middleman between the villains we saw last issue and some offscreen black and green text-bubbled mastermind. It doesn’t help that “daughter of a major villain” is a pretty weak gimmick and her name is laughable.
One last point. In Gotham War, Batman leaves Damian to be arrested which seems to effectively end their partnership in the event. Thankfully Batman continues to be a nice guy over here and that mischaracterization doesn’t reflect. I’m also glad to report there are no references to the event here; hopefully from now on this title will remain apart.
So, we get these hints at where the series is going but no meaty development in this issue. I’m willing to cut the book some slack at this point because it can take time to set up all the pieces in a new series but I won’t be endlessly forgiving. At some point, we need to get down to the nitty-gritty.
As far as the art goes, it’s still a struggle. This issue is even more unreadable than the last. Everything feels looser (as in less precise and more rushed) this time around but the pages are no less filled and the sequential level of the events show here is frequently nonexistent. Often, the choices of what fills each panel feel random, especially on static pages like this one.
It’s simply a collection of different angles of the character. Damian isn’t doing anything significant. His body language isn’t changing, nor are his surroundings. Essentially, there’s very little “sequential” about this page.
I won’t belabor the point because I already talked about it last month, but the fight scenes have the same problem of being difficult to follow and featuring panels that don’t add to the narrative or don’t make sense. Beyond all that, I don’t personally connect with this art. It just isn’t for me. Maybe if the coloring was more naturalistic it would work better for me but as it stands I find it unappealing and of poor quality sequentially. This is significantly detracting from my enjoyment of this comic.
- You’re a Di Meo fan
- Seeing a first taste of Damian in public school interests you
- Nice Batman needs your support
I wasn’t super impressed by this issue but I’m holding out hope that things will pick up. Even still, it’s mostly enjoyable, and as long as the artwork isn’t a dealbreaker for you, I still can comfortably recommend it.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.