Joshua Williamson and Simone Di Meo have brought back the classic Dynamic Duo chemistry with Bruce and Damia Wayne. They are obviously different from other Batman and Robin duo’s since they are not only blood related but also have been doing their own thing for a several years now. Being back together and trying to rebuild their father-son dynamic with so much time apart. The state of their partnership is being tested by the latest addition to Batman’s Rogues Gallery in Shush. Things are getting even tougher with a powered up Man-Bat showing up and capturing Robin in he previous issue. How will things go next? Let’s find out with Batman and Robin #4.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artists: Mikel Janin and Simone Di Meo
Colorists: Jeromy Cox and Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Steve Wands
“FATHER AND SON—SEPARATED! Batman and Robin have been separated! Batman works with White Rabbit to track down the new femme fatale Shush while his son, Damian, hunts down the criminal mastermind who is targeting his father! But Damian won’t like who he finds! Don’t miss out on the shocking ending!” – DC Comics
More than just about any title DC Comics is publishing Joshua Williamson and Simone Di Meo’s Batman and Robin has captured an episodic feel with every issue thus far. Joined by Mikel Janin for Batman and Robin #4, this latest issue is the best example of this approach for the series. There is an obvious bigger story being told but this part of the story feels like it’s finished and now the creative is ready to move to the next phase.
The biggest reason for this is that we got into the full motivation for both Man-Bat and Shush. We’ve seen in the previous issue a young Damian Wayne being having Mistress Harsh as his lead trainer assigned by his mom, Talia Al Ghul. This issue there is more to Mistress Harsh, who in the present is going by Shush, dislike of Damian than being responsible for being kicked out of the League of Assassins by Talia. Mistress Harsh knew before Talia or Ra’s Al Ghul that Damian’s warrior heart is more naturally inclined to Bruce’s way than his mother or grandfather. We see how that culminates in the way Mistress Harsh was kicked out by Talia.
This motivation gave weight to the present with Shush coming after Batma and Robin. She has a personal reason for going after both Bruce and Damian for different reasons. It’s the depth Shush needed so that she does not just come across as Hush-lite villain. Her motivation is different but Mistress Harsh as Shush represents a connection to Damian’s childhood like Thomas Elliot with Bruce. With the development of Mistress Harsh infiltrating Damian’s new high school as the principal now adds a cat-and-mouse sub-plot to Batman and Robin.
On the other half of the villain side is Man-Bat, who finally gets an upgrade. It is very anime-esque with Man-Bat getting a Super Saiyan upgrade. Playing into how often Man-Bat has experimented on himself with different drugs works for all the continuity of his character history. It helps to modernize him similar to how Joker and others have gotten tweaks over the years. Man-Bat’s new form giving him all his intelligence while being stronger does make him a bigger threat.
All of this helps to provide additional challenges for Batman and Robin to face outside of Joker, Orghams, Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, and Vandal Savage to face. Man-Bat and Shush being away from these other villains and doing their own things adds more depth to the franchise. Each Batman title is tackling a different element for the franchise. It should help test Bruce and Damian as the Dynamic Duo, which we already see them do well with the cool Batman and Robin moments we get of them together and individually.
Batman and Robin #4 does a good job at wrapping up this first part of the Man-Bat and Shush storyline while leaving the door plenty open for it to continue as a long-term arc. The dynamic between Bruce and Damian Wayne continues to shine and carry this series. It all comes together for what is in contention for the best Batman series right now.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10