52 Catch Up: Batman and Robin

Batman and Robin with Review52 Catch Up is a series devoted to looking at issues from DC's New 52 and seeing how they're faring now that they're underway, why they're worth reading (or not), and places we hope they will go in time.

 

 

Concept:

Ten years ago, Batman had a relationship with Talia al Ghul, daughter to the villain Ra'as al Ghul. Years later, Batman met Damian, his and Talia's son, who had been trained by the League of Assassins to be a brutal killer. Damian broke away from the League to join his father and became the new Robin, but he still has a lot to learn about what it means to be a hero and a Wayne.

 

 

 

 

 

MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW

 

 

Previously on Batman and Robin: Covering Issues #1-#11


Born to Kill (#1-#8)


An armored villain calling himself Nobody kills the Russian Batman as part of some greater vendetta.  Back in Gotham, Bruce take Damian with him to honor the night of his parents' death one more time, the impact of which is lost on Damian. As Batman and Robin, the pair stop the theft of irradiated fuel from Gotham University, but, during the fight, Robin runs after a group of the thieves who steal the Batpod.  He slices open part of the pod's circuitry, causing the thieves to crash and die.  After a stern lecture, Robin manages to show some restraint while stopping an arms deal, which Batman awkwardly commends.  Batman leaves several of the arms dealers strung up for the police, but Nobody, now in Gotham, appears out of the shadows and slits their throats.

Bruce gets Damian a dog, a Great Dane, as a reward for his restraint the other night and runs into Morgan Ducard, Nobody's alter ego and the son of a man Bruce trained with.  The encounter leaves Bruce worried and he starts to set up extra security around the mansion and refuses to let Damian go out on patrol with him.  Damian goes out on his own anyway but not without Alfred placing a tracker on him.  Robin stops a mugging but runs into Nobody who has issues with Batman's no kill rule and approves of Damian's lack of restraint. Nobody puts the thugs Robin didn't kill out of their misery and when Robin objects, he paralyzes him with a single strike.  Batman arrives and fights Nobody but is also knocked out.  Batman and Robin wake up in an abandoned car outside a drive-in movie theater where Nobody starts to explain why Batman's methods don't work; villains keep escaping and doing more harm and there is only one surefire way to stop them.  Alfred locates Batman and Robin with the tracer he put on Damian and remote controls the Batplane into a bombing run.  Batman and Robin get free and escape.  Back at the mansion, Damian tries to get some air with the Great Dane, who he names Titus, and runs into Nobody outside the Waynes' graves. Nobody offers him the chance to join him and Robin agrees.

Bruce realizes Damian has gone missing and starts to hunt for him.  He records the complete history of his time with the Ducards in audio form to give to Damian later.  Henri Ducard, Morgan's father, was a renowned intelligence agent and assassin.  Henri's wife was secretly an assassin who was supposed to kill him but couldn't until she was forced to choose between Henri or Morgan.  Morgan killed her before she got to make that choice.  Henri then trained Morgan to be an assassin, which was when they encountered Bruce who wanted Henri, who was publicly perceived as a renowned detective, to train him.  Bruce joined the Ducards on their hunt for the terrorist Hassan but when they found him, instead of calling Interpol like they said, Henri killed him.  Bruce ran away but Morgan took offense and was bested and left battered and broken at Henri's doorstep.


Robin and Nobody attack the Ragandian embassy to get at a human trafficker.  They incapacitate the guards and grab the ambassador.  Nobody insists Robin shoot the ambassador in the head, but when Damian pulls the trigger, the gun turns out to be empty as part of another test. They move the ambassador to a boat where Nobody interrogates him using magical interrogation serum and then goes to eliminate the evidence by dunking him in a pit of acid. (It's clearly the obvious solution.)  Robin intervenes and the two begin to fight.  Robin activates a GPS unit allowing Batman to find him and to hear their conversation.  Robin loses the fight and Nobody starts to torture him.  Batman drives the Batmobile off a bridge and lands straight into Nobody's boat.  The two men fight, neither holding back, but it ends with Batman holding Nobody down in the acid.  He notices Damian watching and pulls Nobody back out before it kills him.  Before they leave, Damian kills Nobody with a strike he learned from Nobody, believing if he didn't then Nobody would just come back and hurt them again, thus subscribing to Nobody's idea of justice.  Father and son get patched up and have a quiet evening of fishing and playing fetch with Titus, which is when they spot the batsignal.



Night of the Owls (#9)

Alfred sends out a call to all the bat family members about the Court of Owls targets.  Robin moves in to protect Major General Benjamin Burrows of the army.  He arrives by jetpack but is unable to convince Burrows to get to cover until an agent of the Court, a Talon, arrives and starts to kill Burrows' men.  Robin picks up Burrows and starts to get him away from the base, but the Talon jumps onto Robin's jetpack and brings them all down.  The crash mangles the Talon and breaks the General's leg.  Robin starts to half drag/half carry Burrows away when they encounter more of Burrows' men out on exercise.  Robin organizes the soldiers and they start to fire when the Talon gets close, failing to do any real damage given the Talon's regeneration abilities. The Talon eagerly looks forward to killing Burrows, who is the descendent of a man he was charged to kill but eluded him over two centuries ago.   While the Talon monologues, Robin fires a grappling hook through one of the Talon's eyes, hoists him up a tree, and then decapitates him to finish him off.



Terminus (#10-Ongoing)

A decaying and dying being known as Terminus brings together a bunch of old foes of Batman's who have been scarred by the dark knight, batarangs sticking out of heads, bat shaped boot imprints, etc.  Terminus repairs his body using his machinery but it is only a temporary fix, giving him little more then a day to find and kill Batman.  Meanwhile, Bruce has organized a Wayne family portrait with Alfred, Damian, Dick Grayson aka Nightwing, and Tim Drake aka Red Robin.  Tim and Damian go barely a minute before starting to argue with one another about Damian's morals or lack thereof.  Later that night, Damian gathers Nightwing, Red Robin, and Jason Todd aka Red Hood, all former Robins, to inform them that he intends to prove he is the greatest Robin of them all by besting each of them at something they consider themselves unbeatable at.  Tim confronts Damian back at the Batcave, but Damian shows Tim footage from when Tim lost a friend, Artemis, and nearly killed her murderer Fist Point.  Tim loses his temper with Damian and starts to attack, but the 10 year old continues to gloat until Tim wears himself out and leaves.


Damian then goes after Jason, confronting him with a crowbar in his own home. Damian insists he is the better fighter, having been the one to beat the Joker with a crowbar instead of the other way around. This drives Jason into a rage and the two fight, but Jason isn't using his head and Damian manages to electrocute Jason with his own equipment.  Damian takes Jason's Red Hood helmet as a souvenir and mounts it on the front of his motorcycle. Reports start to come in from all over Gotham as citizens are branded with a bat symbol by Terminus' army of reject Batman villains.  The dark knight and son head out on the streets, stopping as many of the branders as they can. When the sun begins to rise, the bat symbol is burned onto the side of dozens of buildings using explosives. Batman demands a confrontation with the branders and finds himself face-to-face with dozens of the terrorists and a giant suit of armor emblazoned with the bat symbol.



High Points

Becoming a Parent: I never would have guessed watching Bruce learn to be a parent would be so entertaining.  Having Damian around has made Bruce a little less broody and a lot more human.  Bruce's behavior here is in stark contrast to that featured in Scott Snyder's Batman where he's his usual obsessive crime fighter self. In Batman and Robin, Bruce takes care of his son first and then focuses on other issues.


Damian's Struggle: Nobody and Damian struggle with the same burden of logic that's occurred to many a fanboy and fangirl, that Batman locking up his villains so they can escape again only perpetuates the problem. The relaunched series shows us why Damian struggles to hold to Bruce's one rule and though he still comes off psychotic at times, it's a lot easier to see where he's coming from and his efforts to try and change that.


Robins: Bringing in several of the Robins was a great idea and has provided a great comparison and contrast between the Batman sidekicks over the years.  The Terminus plot in Issues #10 and #11 is fairly dull, but the confrontations between the Robins is worth the price of admission for these issues.



Low Points

Two Times the Brood: Dick Grayson and Damian were great foils for one another, because they maintained the dark and jovial combination on the dynamic duo.  With Bruce and Damian it's more often than not a contest to see who can be darker and more unhappy.  As a Batman and Robin team, they're just not as much fun.

Lost Growth: Damian was still out of control before the relaunch, but it feels like he backslid when his caretaker changed from Dick to Bruce.  In all likelihood this was a decision made to make the relaunch more accessible, but it's disappointing to see some of the same plot points covered again.



Looking Ahead

War of the Robins: Two down, one to go. Damian's confrontations with Tim and Jason were entertaining with Tim and Damian's confrontational nature and Damian and Jason being similar. Damian's confrontation with Dick, the former Robin he has the most history with, is reason enough to pick up Issue #12.  Not to mention, I doubt Tim and Jason are going to leave Damian alone after their defeats.  After all, Jason still needs to get his helmet back.


Damian's Redemption: Damian continues to struggle to follow Bruce's no killing rule. It's in his nature to attack his foe and prevent them from being able to retaliate, but he also seems to want to change, making decisions like incapacitating instead of killing the embassy's security guards and not actually siding with Nobody. Only time will tell if Damian can truly abandon these impulses or if he'll return to being a remorseless killer.


Father and Son: Bruce and Damian getting a night off to just spend with one another was the most, “Awww . . .” worthy moment of Batman and Robin.  In time we should get more heartwarming father and son moments as Bruce and Damian grow closer to trusting one another and truly becoming family.

 

 

 

Last modified on Monday, 31 December 2018 23:30

Kristine Chester, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor

Favorite Comic Book SeriesAtomic Robo
Favorite D&D Class:  Wizard
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Cookies N' Cream

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