Comics Review: Batman & Robin #2

While it's a lot of fun finally getting to see Bruce and Damien work together as the DCnU's Batman and Robin, the sad fact is that, two issues in, this book doesn't have much else going for it other than exploring the new Bat-family dynamic.

Written by Peter J. TomasiPencils by Patrick GleasonPublished by DC ComicsPrice: $2.99In stores and available to download now! While it's a lot of fun finally getting to see Bruce and Damien work together as the DCnU's Batman and Robin, the sad fact is that, two issues in, this book doesn't have much else going for it other than exploring the new Bat-family dynamic. Sure, we've got some strong links to Batman Incorporated, as well as the growing mystery of an all new villain, but compared to other books in the Bat-stable this book just isn't that interesting. While a lot of his fans will disagree, Patrick Gleason's art- specifically his panel layouts- is a big part of why this story isn't working. His pencils are perfectly competent, both in terms of the detail and the dynamism that he is able to capture, yet too often this book succumbs to having wide panels and splash pages that effectively achieve nothing. For example, why does half a page get taken up by a simple panel showing Damian sat at his computer? Visually, it's nothing exciting, and it isn't even a key story beat. It leaves you with the impression that a lot more story could be fit into this issue without it ever feeling crammed. It isn't even decompressed storytelling, either- it's simply using up a lot of page space for the pure sake of it. A book as gorgeous as Batwoman can get away with this, and even that ensures that the layout designs are both motivated and compliments the plot beats, but this is just lazy storytelling. To his credit, writer Peter J. Tomasi provides some interesting hints at where Damian's character arc could ultimately lead him and this certainly opens up some exciting opportunities for further down the road. However, his good work is undone by some truly clich├ęd scenes that do nothing but rob Damian of the empathy that Grant Morrison had so effectively generated for him during his own Batman & Robin run. Having Damian Wayne commit silly, even brutal acts in the heat of battle is fine and completely in character, yet having him do something horrific without any just motivation merely paints him as a one-dimensional character, much like he was when he was first introduced back in 2006. In fact, reading Tomasi's portrayal of Damian reminds you why the character was so instantly reviled to begin with. It took time to warm to this character, yet in just a handful of issues Tomasi is making me hate him again.

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Dean likes words. He also likes pictures. One day he would like to combine them to make a beautiful picture-word baby. Follow him @deanthreadgold for daily updates on all things comic book related (and some things unrelated).