ROBIN: SON OF BATMAN #2 Author: Bobby Barrett (Follow @BATBOBBY)
July 19, 2015
SYNOPSIS: The power and legacy of the al Ghuls reaches far and wide, but wait until you meet their greatest rivals! Enter the Dragon’s Head!
Robin's journey toward redemption continues with issue #2, and we get a closer look at the "Year of Blood" he embarked upon before meeting his father. Damian is determined to "right" as many of his past wrongs as he can, and this part of his quest takes him to South America and a village overrun by a drug cartel. Apparently a mythical stone guardian used to protect the village, but was sabotaged by the future Boy Wonder as a League of Assassins rite of passage. Neither side is happy as Damian and his beastly companion Goliath attempt to restore the balance of power to the village.
The son of Batman is not alone on this journey either, as a new version of "Nobody" (the villain from BATMAN AND ROBIN's "Born to Kill" arc…presumably the original's daughter) has taken to following Robin's trail with an eye for revenge--enough to warrant aiding him in battle to ensure that she gets exclusive dibs on his head!
As far as Goliath is concerned, not sure whether we're due for any kind of backstory, or if he's just there. In all honesty, I'd be OK with the latter. No doubt that if he sticks around we'll get some kind of origin story, but for now I'm content to see Damian and his dynamic – not sure if he's a pet or a sidekick. The bat creature adds great value to the action and adventurous tone of the book, and it's funny seeing Damian get aggravated with him.
One thing for sure, you can't fault ROBIN: SON OF BATMAN for getting off to an ambitious start. The previous series by this team had boldness to it – never afraid to quickly and unapologetically venture into strange, often bizarre territory. This tradition continues here, though the story might need to find its bearings.
A frequent result of using artist-turned-writers in monthly comics is that the creator can be fantastic at one skill and capable of the other--however, the burden of delivering both on a monthly basis causes decline in quality on both sides. Pat Gleason is fighting this battle right now; his ideas are strong, but the delivery could use some refining. The writer/artist understands Damian's personality well and takes full advantage of that, but certain narrative aspects fall flat. The climactic battle scene in particular comes off somewhat confusing as Gleason attempts to progress the plot while ramping up the action. The art attempts to stay fierce and fast paced, but with some awkward dialogue that tends to clash with the visual scene.
The greatest missed opportunity is "Nobody 2.0" – here we have a villainous new character who has every reason to despise Damian Wayne and thirst for his demise, but that hatred falls flat. The "villain" seems a little too eager to help Robin, making this chapter feel just a couple shades shy of a team-up. It'll be one thing if that's Gleason's intended direction for the character, but if she just turns around in an issue or two and starts to pose a serious threat to Robin, Gleason is going to have to work hard to make us feel the intimidation factor.
On the other hand, this book has already given us a satisfying new character in the form of the bat-creature Goliath. The dynamic between him and Damian is ever entertaining, as the beast serves as Robin's Chewbacca with wings. No doubt an origin story for Goliath is in store at some point, but it doesn't hinder the story not knowing it.
The visual team stays strong, even if some pages seem more hastily put together than others. Pat Gleason remains a unique and talented penciler, fingers crossed that he comes into his own and is able to truly own both writing and drawing roles. Mick Gray and John Kalisz give the art more confidence as the inker and colorist remain by Gleason's side after nearly four years on BATMAN AND ROBIN. It is truly a team effort that gives these Damian stories their particular look, and that dynamic has not changed.
This title continues to sow some intriguing ideas, even if its execution is inconsistent. Hopefully these are just growing pains though, as there seems to be enough creative juice in this concept to deliver a satisfying run. - 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.