Written By: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils By: Patrick Gleason
Published By: DC Comics
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Damian is a serious contender for best new character to appear in mainstream comics for the past decade. This issue solidifies that statement. After being banned from night patrol by Bruce (who is cautious of a surprise attack by current villain NoBody) for a third night running, Damian decides to go it alone and protect his city whether Bruce and Alfred want him to or not. Even though he is only a 10-year-old boy, Damian is without a doubt one of the most complex and tormented characters in the DCU. Since birth he has been trained by the League of Assassins to kill and never hold back. After being taken under the wing by Dick Grayson during his tenure as Batman he learnt a stronger level of Self-control and respect for his newly found brother figure. With Bruce back and taking full reigns over Damian, that brother figure has gone; in its place is a father who still doesn’t know the best way of connecting with his newfound son.
Over the past three issues writer Peter J. Tomasi has made it very clear that Damian is struggling to resist the full force of his assassin training. It’s heartbreaking when you see him succumb to his more violent tendencies and mortally wound a human or even an animal (such as in #2) even if it is only for a moment. The fact Damian now has a dog can only spell for bad news in the long run.
There is a lot of new grounds being touched upon for each of our protagonists. Damian is as previously said struggling with his inner demons, Bruce in his cold and warped lifestyle is struggling with what it means to be a father while protecting his “castle” as it were from the impending enemy (through a very well done chess analogy) and Alfred who struggles to be the voice of reason for a troubled child and a lost father. Each character reached a defining moment throughout the issue (Alfed and the tracker, Damian with the crooks and Bruce with NoBody), which helps their current arcs develop and alter their perspective. This is one of the most unique dynamics a Batman book has had in recent years.
Patrick Gleason is once again on pencil duties and continues to be a delight. His work alongside Inker Mick Gray is one of the few times I enjoy a heavily shaded comic. The tone for the book is struck directly through their combined work on each page and their use of shadows defines Batman’s world so well. Colours by John Kalisz help give the story’s world a living and vibrant feel while helping to continue the surreal tone Grant Morrison originally brought to the series. This book is enjoyable as always and consistent as all hell.
One problem that has been brought over from #2 is the as yet to be explained connection between Bruce & Morgan (Aka NoBody). It’s accentuated more by the fact that Bruce is fully up to date with the situation and how to deal with this new character, with while we are kept in the dark. The issues end approaches the subject of Morgan’s connection to Bruce once more – the story has thankfully progressed to a point where, even through we have yet to receive the answers we require, it is clear that they are to be revealed very soon. The final scenes setting kept the issues mood consistent (one thing that #2’s final scene on the Farm had trouble with) while keeping the books more surreal Batman tone centre stage.
It is a satisfying conclusion for the issue and took its characters to the next step in their journey, Batman & Robin has thankfully moved at a consistent pace and I believe we are well on our way to a satisfying conclusion.