You like Batman, right? DC sure hopes you do. Of the 27 #1s that have been released in the last 3 weeks, 5 have been Bat-books, and there are still more on the way. Alongside Batwoman #1, Batman & Robin #1 debuted this week, finally teaming Bruce Wayne with his insolent offspring, Damian.
Immediately, this book throws you into the modern Bat-verse established by Grant Morrison in both Batman & Robin and Batman Inc. However, taking up the reins once again is writer Peter J. Tomasi, hot off his successful run on Green Lantern Corps. (Tomasi originally wrote 3 issues of the 2009 B&R run) Tomasi does a superb job of interweaving current and classic elements from the Dark Knight’s history, establishing a Wayne Family theme as the backdrop for the latest chapter in Bruce’s life. Unfortunately, if you are either a new reader, or just unaware of the global Batman Inc. network, you might be a little lost on the first few pages. But hang in there.
Tomasi sets the stage with a quick look in on the previously unseen Russian representative of Batman Inc. This prologue also sets up the story’s villain, a masked menace with invisibility tech and a connection to Batman’s past. Ominous stuff right at the onset. Meanwhile, in Gotham, Bruce Wayne is still struggling as both a father and as half of a crime fighting partnership. Damian, the son of Bruce and Talia al Ghul, continues to be an irritating little s***, maintaining an opinionated, holier-than-thou attitude, and countermanding every order Bruce gives in the field. The time Tomasi spent writing dialogue for Guy Gardner has definitely prepared him for the impudent tone of Damian Wayne.
The book takes a somber, yet dignified turn as Bruce starts a new period in his life. In light of the news that Crime Alley, the site of Thomas and Martha Wayne’s murder, will finally be bulldozed and redeveloped, Bruce chooses to stop honoring his parents’ death and start honoring their life. Now a father himself, Bruce attempts to share this new outlook with his own son, but the little brat could care less. Batman now finds opposition at home as well as on the streets of Gotham.
The dialogue-heavy, family-oriented material is then balanced out with fast-paced action. In a skirmish between the Dynamic Duo and a band of thugs out to pilfer some nuclear cooling rods, Tomasi’s writing, supplemented by the art of Patrick Gleason, Tomasi’s partner from both Green Lantern Corps and Batman & Robin, creates a rapid-fire sequence that almost prompts you to read the panels quickly in an effort to keep pace with the action. The acrobatics, beatdowns, and overall chaos is amplified by frenzied exchanges as Batman screams commands, only to have them blatantly defied by Robin.
Batman & Robin #1 reestablishes the tumultuous relationship between father and son for a new group of readers, and sets the two on an equally turbulent path that could very well end in tragedy. With most of Batman’s attention focused on solidifying this new partnership, I’m intrigued to see its impact on how he deals with the new threat heading his way.