ROBIN: SON OF BATMAN #1 Author: Bobby Barrett (Follow @BATBOBBY)
June 18, 2015
SYNOPSIS: The son of a Bat and a Demon, Damian al Ghul has set out to forge his own destiny – and atone for the shameful Year of Blood! Will he be aided or hindered by the behemoth Goliath? And what mysterious legacy trails behind him? Join writer/artist Patrick Gleason as he chronicles the globe-hopping adventures of ROBIN: SON OF BATMAN!
Catching up with Damian Wayne after a two-month absence, we find the boy seemingly overtaken in some kind of palace, with a strange creature who looks like a cross between some kind of Man-Bat and a dog – apparently Robin's companion – in chains behind a decorated warlord.
So begins the new adventures of Robin, the son of Batman. Recent events involving Bruce Wayne have kept away from Damian – this is understandable, as the boy's resurrection story was still wrapping up. In turn, RSOB appears to stay away from post-ENDGAME Gotham City. Could be that writer/penciler Patrick Gleason intends to keep Robin busy until Bruce Wayne is back under the cowl; or he could be explaining why Damian was nowhere to be found during the ENDGAME crisis.
Either way, it doesn't seem like we're meant to spend much time worrying about those kinds of details, as veteran artist/new writer Gleason has planted the seeds for an epic story arc that manages to succeed as both a jumping-on point for curious readers and a continuation of everything Gleason has worked on previously in BATMAN AND ROBIN. What makes this work so well is Gleason's liberal use of the "flash-forward" – longtime Robin readers will surely recognize certain elements here, but the "fish out of water" opening really doesn't give those readers any advantage over someone new to the character.
That being said, the BATMAN AND ROBIN series provided as solid a foundation as one could ask for when it comes to Bruce Wayne's offspring and the world he lives in, and Gleason is wise to use that foundation to build his tale on. Repercussions from that book's "Nobody" arc appear to pose an immediate threat, along with lingering plot threads from "Robin Rises.” However, Gleason seems to be ultimately prepping a tale of redemption that sheds some more light on Damian's actions before encountering his father, specifically his League of Assassins training under grandfather Ra's al Ghul. This is largely uncharted territory for the character, and ripe for exploring. With a mere 11 years of life experience, Damian is not far removed at all from his murderous past; and a look at how he plans to reconcile that past with his future as a hero worthy of The Dark Knight mantle is a welcome new direction for him.
With the departure of B&R writer Peter Tomasi, DC is smart enough to keep the rest of the band together for RSOB. First time writer Gleason is backed up by longtime trusted partners in the art department, with Mick Gray inking and John Kalisz on colors. Having a team this tried and tested is sure to make the transition as smooth as possible for Gleason, and he definitely crafts the narrative to play to his artistic strengths. Gleason can dish out superhero action with the best of them, but appears to find his true home in fantasy and horror. Gleason plays to his strengths here, taking Robin too far and exotic locations with strange beasts, and even throwing one of his signature Damian nightmare sequences. There are some notable new flourishes to Robin's costume as well, with the regal nature of Damian's al Ghul heritage manifesting itself. Nothing over the top, but just enough to complement the boy's posh personality.
From what we've seen so far, RSOB has offered a worthy follow-up to its predecessor, certainly not an easy task. Hoping the momentum of this first issue will carry over into a successful run. What is certain at this point is that just in time for his 75th birthday, Robin's got a new solo title worthy of his legacy. - Bobby Barrett
Bobby Barrett is a lifelong Batman enthusiast living in Fresno, California, with his wife and several cats.
He enjoys reading, writing, acting, and playing very loud rock music.