Damian Wayne. This character has always been a hot button issue. Some people hated it when Grant Morrison introduced the fact that Bruce Wayne had a son. Others immediately gravitated to Damian’s character. To be sure, Damian’s character grew in popularity under the deft hand of Peter Tomasi over in the pages of Batman and Robin.
Personally, I have always loved Damian Wayne’s character. And that is saying something since I normally dislike next generation characters or derivative characters. And I almost never enjoy sidekicks. Damian Wayne, though? That character simply worked for me right from the start.
Of course, Damian was killed off in 2013 in the pages of Batman, Inc. #8. Now, death is a revolving door in comics so DC quickly decided to bring back the character. Damian Wayne received a new title as a part of DC’s DCYOU initiative.
Unfortunately, Peter Tomasi is not the writer of this title. Honestly, DC should not be wasting Tomasi’s talents on a crap title like Superman/Wonder Woman where it is quite plain that his heart is not in either character or the editorially mandated story. Personally, I would have placed Tomasi on Damian’s new comic Robin: Son of Batman in a heartbeat. It is a no brainer as Tomasi gets Damian’s character better than any writer.
Instead, DC pulled their every increasing tactic of allowing an artist to also assume the writing duties. Yes, there are some artists who have been able to write great stories. Frank Miller in his prime. Jack Kirby as well. But, for the most part, I think it is much wiser to let professional writers handle writing comics and let artists focus on the artwork. It is incredibly hard to be good at both writing and drawing. And it also makes keeping a monthly schedule difficult when one person has to handle both writing and art.
The result is that DC tabbed Patrick Gleason to handle the duties of script writing and artwork. Now, I am a big fan of Gleason’s art. I loved his work on Green Lantern Corps and on Robin and Batman and Robin. I also appreciate that Gleason has a history with Damian’s character. However I still believe pairing Gleason with Tomasi would have been a much wiser move. All right, it is time to see if Gleason can win me over with Robin: Son of Batman #2!
Words: Patrick Gleason
Pencils: Patrick Gleason
Inks: Mick Gray
Colors: John Kalisz & Jeromy Cox
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Damian gloating over his mother, Talia, that he has beaten her in their sparring match and she should yield. Talia then sneak attacks him and pops Damian on the head. Talia says that the fight is never over until the enemy is killed. That Damian stopped just short of the finish line.
Talia then reminds Damian to address her as “mother” and to never call her “Talia” again. Damian sheepishly answers “Yes, mother.” (The comic book does not begin this intro scene with the words “One year ago” but it really should have. It would have made the beginning less confusing for new readers. We had no idea that the opening scenes were a year ago until we get to the next scene set in South America where the narrator labels as “The Present.”)
Talia says that Damian is great and has exceeded what even Ra’s and Talia expected from him. Damian agrees that he is great. (Ha! I love how matter-of-factly he agrees with his mother’s praise.) Damian says that he will not fail. Talia says that Damian cannot fail. Talia says that Damian is ready for his final trial: The Year of Blood.
We cut to Damian undergoing the tribal ceremony that begins The Year of Blood.
We then zip forward to the present day in South America. Robin arrives on the scene riding Goliath. (Goliath is a giant-sized red furry dog-like beast with bat wings and massive claws. I already love him. I want one. I’m thinking DC needs to roll out some Goliath plushies.)
Goliath is carrying a massive stone head in his hands. Goliath places the head on a giant stone figure standing next to an ancient temple. (Either Mayan, Aztec, Incan or Toltec, I guess.)
We see drug cartel soldiers scream at Robin that this town is the property of the cartel. One of the local townspeople comments that the head is being returned to the temple Guardian. The local says that the Guardian’s judgment on the devils is at hand.
Once Goliath places the head on the Guardian, the Guardian springs to life and immediately begins to attack Robin and Goliath. Robin yells that he gave the Guardian back his head. Robin asks what else the Guardian wants. The Guardian yells “Bricks! Stones for our temple!”
The Guardian grabs both Robin and Goliath. Robin exclaims that he does not need Goliath the bodyguard. He needs Goliath the beast. Robin then blows on a small skull shaped whistle. The sound of the skull whistle turns Goliath into beast mode and we officially have ourselves a good old-fashioned slobberknocker!
Goliath and Guardian start trading blows. The Guardian launches a couple of Technicolor demon shaped energy blasts at Robin. Robin gets hit by them and turns into a stone demon and says “Through the veil…ghosts and demons…always watching…now…I can see you!”
We then see Nobody on the scene. She runs around and saves some of the town people from being crushed by the collateral damage from the fight between Goliath and Guardian. Robin yells at Goliath that he is too close to the townspeople and that they need to move this fight away from the townspeople.
Robin tells Nobody that they do not need her help. Robin then says that he does not know who this new Nobody is but that if she wanted him to think that she was the real Nobody then she should have left more to the imagination with her costume. While Robin and Nobody are bickering, the Guardian grabs them from behind.
We then shift to a year ago, Day 1 of the Year of Blood. Damian and a bunch of ninjas are outside of the temple that the Guardian protects. Damian tells the ninjas to attack the local townspeople in order to draw the Guardian from the temple. The ninjas attack the townspeople. The Guardian springs to life and heads over to protect the townspeople. Damian then enters the temple. Damian locates a magical sword in a stone. Damian retorts “How original.”
Damian then pulls the massive magical sword out of the stone. The Guardian then busts into the scene and attacks Damian for desecrating the temple. The Guardian says that Damian has no right to the sword that is the blade forged by the blood of gods. Damian says he is not here for the sword. He is here for the Guardian’s head.
Damian uses the sword to chop off the Guardian’s head. The ninjas carry the Guardian’s head away. The townspeople please with Damian to not take the Guardian’s head. The townspeople say that they will now be defenseless and the drug cartel’s army will take over their town. Damian responds “Whatever you deserve. I don’t care.”
We zip back to the present. The drug cartel’s army arrives on the scene and starts attacking the Guardian. The Guardian lets go of Damian and Nobody and begins fighting the cartel’s army. Nobody tells Damian that this is all his fault.
Damian tells Nobody that if she touches him again then he will put her down for good just like he did the original Nobody. Nobody says that Damian’s hero act has dropped and his true personality is finally showing. Damian says this is his fight and his responsibility. Damian says he does not need some wannabe getting in his way.
Robin and Nobody enter the battle and start beating up the cartel soldiers. The locals wonder why only a year later Damian would return to help them. One of the locals wonders if Damian has been shown a better path. Perhaps Damian is running from something. Or perhaps Damian is running toward something else.
The local says that change does not happen in a moment. Change takes a lifetime of moments that weave a tapestry of who we will become. The local points out at how hard Damian fights for them at this moment.
Finally, Robin, Nobody, Goliath and the Guardian defeat the cartel’s army. The local townspeople cheer their heroes’ victory over the cartel’s army. One of the locals says that the cartel will not return now that the Guardian once against stands guard over the town. The local says that Damian has redeemed himself.
Damian tells the Guardian that he no longer has the sword but that he will return the sword if he can. Damian gives his word that he will make it so. The Guardian says that the sword is not his concern. That the Guardian protects the treasure of the temple. Damian is shocked that the treasure of the temple is not the magical sword. The Guardian says that the treasure is something “deeper.”
Nobody then gets in Damian’s face and pulls a knife on him. Nobody says that she is going to kill Damian. Damian scoffs at her and says that she has never killed before and that her words are meaningless. Nobody says that Damian killed her father, the first Nobody. Damian retorts “You want an apology or something?” Nobody says no claiming that Damian is “unforgiven.” Damian replies “So be it.”
Nobody says that she deals, collects and possesses a ton of information. She has a ton of information about Damian and his upbringing, his Year of Blood, Bruce Wayne’s “death” and Damian’s quest for redemption. Nobody asks what the Justice League would say if they found out that the son of the Batman was the world’s greatest villain.
Nobody says that she is going to wait for Damian to finish his quest for redemption and then she is going to kill him. Damian asks if Nobody is “stupid or something.” Damian asks what does Nobody “What do you think I am trying to do here?” Nobody replies “It’s not I anymore. It’s we.” End of issue.
The Good: Robin: Son of Batman #2 was a fun read! Now, I now I use that term when describing certain comic books that, on their face, may be stylistically different. It seems that many people misinterpret what “fun” means. Often people erroneously believe that for a title to be “fun” that it must be light and fluffy. That could not be further from the truth. Yes, some titles like Starfire are lighter and more positive than your typical super hero comic. Then there are titles like Robin: Son of Batman which are also fun.
Yes, Damian’s character is not as light and positive as Starfire’s character. And the general tone in Robin: Son of Batman can get darker than the general tone of Starfire. But, Robin: Son of Batman is most definitely fun. It has a sense of adventure and excitement. It is a story set in a world where the reader feels that anything is possible. The main character is a hero who truly wants to be positive and right his past wrongs. Robin: Son of Batman has all the ingredients that make for a fun title.
At its heart, Robin: Son of Batman is a story about a boy and his dog. That is a classic combination that is time-tested. This is a story about a boy and his dog on an adventure to become a true hero. Indeed, it is a story of a boy also on his road to try to become a man. A story of a boy trying to become as great a hero as his father and even may surpass his father. It is a story of a boy of great ego and power learning how to become more compassionate.
These are all classic adventure story themes that are time-tested. Gleason wraps all of these different classic adventure themes together in order to form the foundation for Robin: Son of Batman. And it is this classic sense of adventure, action and growth that infuses Robin: Son of Batman with a sense of excitement and makes it such an enjoyable read.
Gleason surprised me. I have openly admitted that I much prefer a creative team that consists of a dedicated professional writer and a dedicated professional artist. However, Gleason exceeded my expectations and delivered some quality writing on Robin: Son of Batman #2.
Gleason treated the reader to some nice dialogue. To be sure, Damian possessed the most well-developed and distinctive external voice. However, Talia also had a nice unique external voice, as well. Nobody was a bit of the weak link in this issue. Still, her dialogue was solid and at moments she displayed a distinctive external voice.
Robin: Son of Batman #2 is chock full of great character work. Once again, Damian receives the lion’s share of the character work. However, since Damian is the titular character I find that completely acceptable. Gleason shows off his excellent understanding of Damian’s character. No doubt that this is due to Gleason teaming with Tomasi on Batman and Robin. I was pleasantly surprised that Gleason was so comfortable with Damian’s character. Damian is as fascinating as ever.
Gleason nails Damian’s naturally egotistical and cock attitude. And, even better, Gleason shows that Damian’s haughty attitude is well founded as Damian simply is that much better than everyone around him. However, Gleason also shows how Damian’s lack of humility can cost him. Despite the fact that Damian wants to rectify his past wrongs he still struggles with his naturally abrasive and prickly personality when dealing with other people.
I also love that Gleason has Damian remain resolutely unapologetic for any of his past doings. Yes, Damian is on a mission to make amends and to atone for his sins during the Year of the Blood. But, do not mistake that for being guilt ridden. Damian is doing what he thinks is the right thing to do for himself. This is a matter of honor. Even in seeking to right for his past wrongs Damian does not seek out the forgiveness of those he has wronged.
The fact that Nobody refuses to forgive Damian means nothing to him. This mission is about gaining the forgiveness of people like Nobody. It is all about Damian doing what is right out of his own personal moral code of conduct. Perfect.
I love the concept of Damian on a journey to right all of his wrongs that were committed during the Year of Blood. This journey should provide for an excellent literary device for plenty of action and adventure as well as plenty of character growth for Damian’s character.
Gleason also did a nice job with Talia’s character. I love that Gleason made sure to have Talia put Damian in place in the beginning of this issue. Damian may be the future and may be the ultimate man, however, Talia is still the woman who birthed this “ultimate man” and that definitely counts for something.
I adore Goliath’s character. I have always been a sucker for the lovable dog-like creature in any story. That’s why Chewbacca has always been my favorite Star Wars character. What boy wouldn’t love to have a pet like Goliath?! I know I would have when I was a kid.
Goliath is a fantastic addition to the roster of Damian’s supporting cast. I dig the concept that Goliath transforms from lovable and loyal guard dog to dangerous and rabid pitbull with just one note from the magical skull whistle. Goliath certainly gives Damian some much-needed muscle in order to help him on his upcoming journey.
Robin: Son of Batman #2 was a well paced and plotted read. The story moves at a pleasant pace. It certainly moves with a clear purpose in mind, yet it never feels rushed. Gleason displays some strong plotting skills as he wraps up the opening story arc and clearly sets the stage for the future of this new title. I love that Gleason plainly spells out the objective and mission statement for this new title.
Gleason does a fine job showing the reader exactly what type of title Robin: Son of Batman is going to be and what style of story the reader can expect. These are all vitally important duties that the writer must deliver when rolling out a brand new title.
I am fine with Nobody being added to the title. Personally, I prefer Damian on his own. But, Nobody will serve as a good foil to Damian’s character.
Gleason doles out a huge helping of action in this issue. Action fans will be more than happy with the amount of brawling that we get treated to in this issue. The quality action makes Robin: Son of Batman #2 a lively read.
Gleason also delivers some great artwork. The action scenes are dynamic and bound off of the pages. The characters’ facial expressions are fantastic. This helps to infuse the story with plenty of emotion.
I have to take a moment and praise John Kalisz and Jeromy Cox for their excellent work with the colors for this issue. Robin: Son of Batman #2 is a diverse title with several dark and moody scenes as well as brighter more heroic action scenes. The colors set the proper tone for each scene. The dark colors for the flashbacks to the Year of Blood were perfect. And the bright psychedelic colors for the Guardian’s hypo-attack were spot on.
The Bad: The weakest character in this issue would be Nobody. At this point, Nobody is a bit boring and generic. She is too much of a one note character. However, it is still incredibly early so I am more than confident that Gleason can make Nobody’s character more interesting in the upcoming issues.
Overall: Robin: Son of Batman #2 was a blast to read. This is a balanced issue that treats the reader to quality character work and exciting action all wrapped up in a well constructed plot. This is a fun adventure title that will appeal to a wide range of readers. I definitely recommend giving Robin: Son of Batman a chance.