Make no mistake; this title is definitely about the relationship between Batman AND Robin. It’s not “Batman with Robin,” “Batman and Boy Wonder,” or simply “Batman.” It’s a combination of the two — Bruce Wayne and his son, Damian Wayne — with both contributing to making this story move forward and complicate the relationship as much as possible.
Of course, it’s the work of Peter J. Tomasi that makes the relationship between the titular characters so absolute. For a sample of Tomasi’s treatment of their interaction, check out the preview right here on CBR. In that excerpt, Tomasi defines the levels of trust — and lack thereof — between Bruce and Damian. He also delivers the sternness of a father filtered through the stubbornness of Batman. Tomasi’s ability to deliver this voice through Batman/Bruce without having Batman slip into (for lack of a better term) Bat-dickery speaks volumes of the dynamic between the characters. This is a father-son duo with some fairly major issues to tackle. Batman’s all-business attitude doesn’t blend well with an independently minded son, and the two are as at odds with one another as Damian ever was with Dick Grayson.
Further proving Tomasi’s mettle is the undisputable fact that he’s given Damian an interesting enough perspective to make the character one that I enjoy reading. Damian, like the Red Hulk, is a character that I wanted nothing to do with. Tomasi’s work, in perfect synchronization with Jeff Parker’s take on Red Hulk, has given me a different opinion of the character. Sure, I wouldn’t be devastated if Damian was written off as a fever dream throughout DC books next month. Heck, I’d probably be the first in line to text in favor of offing the brat if DC decided to go through a publicity stunt akin to the Jason Todd call-in of the 1980s. For Tomasi to make me care enough to get over that disdain for this character is applaudable.
Patrick Gleason draws up spot-on videos to match Tomasi’s tale. The entire time Bruce is out of costume — just as when Batman is in costume — Gleason obscures Bruce’s eyes. Even though we never truly see the emotion in Bruce’s eyes, there is no mistaking the communication he projects through his body language. He hulks over Damian during the crux of their argument, with a protruding bottom jaw and bulging neck muscles for emphasis. As amazing as Gleason is with the detail of a prototypical father-son conversation, his battle scenes with the enigmatic Nobody are nothing short of spectacular.
I’ve gone from being a casual Batman reader in the pre-relaunch DC Universe to being a Batfan in this brave new universe DC has been delivering to us each and every month. Snyder’s “Batman” delivers a great story of Batman’s continuing investigation and defense of Gotham City, but the relationships being forged, investigated, and tested in “Batman and Robin” are every bit as compelling and equally fun to read. Of course, like Snyder on “Batman,” Tomasi is leaving the title each month with a compelling ending. The difference is, here, you just never know what Damian will do and it brings me back each month to see how Bruce reacts.