When DC Comics rebooted their line at the end of “Flashpoint,” some characters and groups changed more than others. The Batman family of titles had some of the least changes, with some titles barely batting an eye and moving forward as if nothing was different. So with that in mind, “Convergence: Batman and Robin” #1 feels like this week’s least necessary comic strictly in terms of any sort of desire to check in and see what could have been. Add in the fact that Ron Marz, Denys Cowan and Klaus Janson don’t have any real association to the “Batman and Robin” era that Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and company built, and the comic is all the more perplexing. Here’s the good news, though: Marz, Cowan and Janson give it their all to turn this hard sell into a fun comic.
“Convergence: Batman and Robin” #1 continues the shared narrative of some of the other “Convergence” titles from this week: a Gotham City where Poison Ivy grows food in Robinson Park and where Batman continues to try and defend the city even as unrest continues to rise. It’s not a bad idea, and Marz tries to move things forward a bit by finally having the meeting between Batman, Robin and the Red Hood, where the latter is revealed as Jason Todd. The problem is that it doesn’t quite fit the setup that Marz was handed; in a city literally sealed off from the rest of the universe for an entire year, the idea that it’s taken this long for the two to finally run into one another feels a little artificial. Similarly, with the amount of time that’s passed — and based in part over how Damian Wayne was a character that grew and matured more with each passing storyline, both pre- and post-“Flashpoint” — the character stomping off after Jason’s reveal comes across as a bit artificial. If this had been set mere days after the end of the previous DC Universe, this would have felt a bit more natural. Instead, it just feels hard to believe that it’s taken a year for Batman and Robin to encounter the Red Hood and Scarlet noodling around in a helicopter. It’s ultimately a problem with the story not quite fitting the setting, which is too bad because, set earlier in the timeline, this would have worked just fine.
On the plus side, it’s great to see Cowan and Janson drawing a Batman comic again. The two work great together and with Chris Sotomayor; Cowan’s trademark ridges on characters like Killer Croc are accentuated with Janson’s inks, and Sotomayor is careful to use multiple shades of green so that you can almost feel the bumps and folds of Croc’s leathery skin. The fight scene is energetic, although it contains some really strange poses whenever characters are airborne. Robin is presumably jumping out of the Batwing, but the way that Cowan angled him makes it look like he’s jumping over it from somewhere entirely different. Similarly, the Red Hood’s pose as he kicks Croc in the face would almost work if he was swinging in on a cable from somewhere (perhaps the helicopter), thanks to his legs being at a 90 degree angle from his torso. The problem is that not only is there no cable (and the Red Hood’s hands are full of guns pointing straight up), but the angle in which he’s zooming through the air is actually in an upward angle from the ground; it just doesn’t quite work. It’s too bad, because the portraits of the characters here are great and little touches like Batman’s scars and bruises come to life under Cowan, Janson and Sotomayor.
All of the creators involved are clearly giving this their all, but there are just enough rough spots throughout the comic that it ends up balancing out as just average. Considering the slightly unnecessary hand that they were dealt — the continuation of these characters, with Damian in particular, was more or less unbroken in “Batman and Robin” and “Batman Incorporated” — but it’s still better than one might expect. This is a book that needs a bit more polish to get to where it should be.