The basic thrust behind Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s “Batman and Robin” #10 is a sound one. Tomasi pits Damian Wayne, the current Robin, against all of the previous Robins in his attempt to prove to the rest that he’s the best Robin of them all. It’s very much in character with the self-assured nature of Damian and it sounds like a lot of fun in the description.
The issue itself, though, is a little uneven. Damian’s dialogue — which is admittedly hard for most writers to capture in a consistent manner — is a little too expository and a little too blunt, even for the admittedly tactless youngster. There are times when Damian feels like he’s playing the role of narrator rather than an actual character and it pulls away the attention from the story that’s being told. Then again, the others are a little off-kilter in places, most notably poor Nightwing who yells and shouts like a petulant teenager instead of an actual adult. (“You keep finding new ways to taint the Robin legacy with every mission!” sounds less like Nightwing and more like Lt. Worf from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”)
Even worse is the confrontation between Damian and Tim Drake; once again Damian starts reciting recent DC Comics continuity, but even Tim feels out of character here. It’s a painful scene to read, but not because you feel bad for Tim, but because it doesn’t sound like him in the slightest. There’s something that’s just not quite right for almost any of the characters, and that’s unlike Tomasi’s normal standards.
Gleason’s pencils are likewise a little uneven; the portrait sitting scene in particular demonstrates how drawing a group of dark-haired men all in suits is perhaps not best suited to Gleason’s normally slightly-exaggerated style. Ultimately, you tell them apart here by their heights over anything else. On the other hand, it’s Gleason’s drawings of the new villain Terminus that makes him interesting in his debut here; with his withered, decaying skin he makes an immediate impression in ways that his motivations don’t just yet. (And when we see how Terminus puts himself back together, well, once again it’s the art that makes the scene especially chilling.)
“Batman and Robin” #10 feels like nothing has quite set the way it’s supposed to; all the components are present, but everything could have used just a bit more polish. It’s not a bad issue, but I feel like with a bit more attention it could have also been a lot better, too.