I’m a big fan of Peter J. Tomasi’s run on “Batman and Robin,” which “Robin Rises: Omega” #1 is essentially part of but with a larger page count and snazzy sounding title. Watching Batman chase down Ra’s al Ghul and the missing coffins containing Damian Wayne and Talia al Ghul has been enjoyable, and it all led up to this moment. And then, unfortunately, the story came to a screeching halt. So what went wrong?
First, it’s not an awful comic, not by any stretch of the imagination. Tomasi has entertaining dialogue in places, and Andy Kubert stepping in on pencils means that the book looks good. There’s also a big set-up for what’s still to come in “Batman and Robin” in the months ahead, as this shifts whom Batman is chasing and what the potential cost will be if he fails. So, certainly not bad.
Unfortunately, it’s not a terribly good comic either. “Robin Rises: Omega” #1 is 38 pages of story and art. Of them, 7 pages are a plot summary of everything that’s happened up until now, 26 pages are a massive fight scene, and the remaining 5 pages are the aftermath of that fight. This is a slightly roundabout way of getting to the first problem: there’s very little plot. Up until now, while it’s been a massive chase sequence, Tomasi has always been careful to present a location-specific piece of story in each new installment. It’s something to make what’s happening feel varied, and to add an individual level of buy-in for each stop along the way. That’s unfortunately missing in “Robin Rises: Omega” #1. It’s a lot of punches being thrown, the occasional energy blast, but nothing out of the ordinary. This is a comic with a single purpose — to remove Damian Wayne’s corpse from Batman’s hands — but takes an entire oversized one-shot to do what could have just as easily been a few pages.
Kubert’s pencils are high energy; I’d forgotten how exuberant his comics are. The opening “story so far” sequence works thanks mostly to the art here, with a look that either mimics or actually is having Kubert’s pencils colored; with a washed out, almost dreamy look, it instantly locks in that this is a series of events that already happened. As we jump to the present day, Kubert, Jonathan Glapion, and Brad Anderson snap everything into sharp focus. It’s the little moments that stand out for me, like the view-from-below of Glorious Godfrey tasting the snow with his tongue, or Batman holding the shard close to his face and eyeing it carefully as memories come flooding back. The big battles are drawn well, but it’s a nice reminder that Kubert’s capable of so much more than that.
There are some interesting tie-ins here, both to “Superman/Batman” as well as current events in “Justice League” (just in case you hadn’t guessed the new line-up), but that’s not enough of a lure to read a comic. Tomasi’s capable of far better than this, and this feels like a one-shot for the sake of a one-shot. It’s nice to have Kubert step in and draw part of the next phase of the search for Damian, but there’s far too much padding to make this really sing.