With four monthly books starring Batman, it’s nice to see that “Batman and Robin” is not only including sidekick Robin, but making him an integral part to the series. Damian Wayne has been a surprisingly difficult character for people to tackle since Grant Morrison introduced the character, but three issues in I’d say that Peter J. Tomasi’s got him down just right.
A lot of this issue is about Damian trying to adjust to working with Bruce Wayne as Batman, and chafing under those new restrictions. Tomasi plays it well here; we’ve got that combination of arrogance and superiority that makes up Damian, but Tomasi also never loses sight of the additional fact that Damian is actually almost as good as he thinks he is. (Almost, but not quite.) He’s not afraid to have Damian taken down a few pegs, though, and watching Alfred play him like a violin is a nice reminder that this is the fourth Robin that Alfred’s had to help steward, and he’s an old pro at this.
Lest you think this is all just chess games and lectures in the Batcave, Tomasi and Patrick Gleason bring the action here, too. The fight scenes are brisk but fun, and I appreciate that this is a book that doesn’t just rely on, “Who can punch the hardest?” to resolve a fight. And while it’s already been said that Tomasi writes a good Robin, his Batman is on-point here, too.
I’ve been a fan of Gleason’s for years, but I think he’s been on a meteoric rise as of late. From simple portraits of Alfred and Damian, to a silhouette of Batman with an intricate latticework of branches behind him, everyone comes across beautifully here. His Batman on top of the gargoyles is in a wonderfully non-typical Batman pose, all wrapped up and pulling inward instead of large and spectral, and the sneer on Damian’s face when he finds the tracer on his motorcycle is just lovely. And those fight scenes I mentioned before? They’re excellent, from the little flecks of glass raining down, to the way Damian’s boot connects to a hoodlum’s face. If I didn’t know better I’d have thought Kevin Nowlan had stepped in here to draw this sequence, and any artist who reminds me of Nowlan is clearly doing something right.
“Batman and Robin” continues to turn in pleasant, enjoyable issues; Tomasi and Gleason have a firm grasp on their cast, the plot moves well, and the pages are some of the best of Gleason’s career. “Batman and Robin” briefly looked to be losing its way after Morrison finished up his 16-issue run, but the title is clearly in good hands once more.