Batman vs Robin #1 review

It is a dark and stormy night. Someone taps at the door of stately Wayne Manor. Bruce Wayne, currently living in Gotham but having felt a pullback to his ancestral home, answers.

It’s Alfred Pennyworth, apparently back from the dead after being murdered by Bane, and cremated by Bruce. Is it a cruel ploy by Clayface, Hugo Strange or some other Bat-foe? A battery of questions are answered satisfactorily by the longtime Wayne Family retainer, so Bruce and the man claiming to be Alfred head down to the Batcave for medical tests. Someone is waiting for them.

Robin has come home to roost. Damian Wayne has been away for months, investigating a superhero fight club on Lazarus Island where, we learned in World’s Finest #5, the Devil Nezha had been imprisoned. In a present-day coda to a story set years ago, Damian opened the tomb…

And soon he’s fighting his father like a boy possessed, aided by a suspiciously quiet Jakeem Thunder and Tim Hunter. The two boys share magic in common – Jakeem controls the Thunderbolt, while Tim is a tyro magician with huge potential.

Damian, meanwhile, aims words at his father.

It seems that Damian may be not so much possessed, as turned. He’s showing huge resentment towards his father, convinced Bruce will never be able to see beyond his Al-Ghul bloodline and accept him as the next Batman.

Well, this was quite the read. But with Mark Waid writing, I should have expected that. The storyline immediately intrigues, with the return of the underused Tim Hunter and Jakeem Thunder a big bonus – I suspect the Devil Nezha will come to regret taking away their agency. The big takeaway is that Alfred is back from the dead. Bruce quickly accepts him and so do I. A slaughtered and cremated butler standing in the rain, ready for a cup of Oolong tea? I’ll take it. In the DC Universe ‘a wizard did it’ always works. Waid demonstrates his mastery of characterisation, nailing the relationship between Bruce and Damian as he weaves a tale that begins with one intense moment and just gets bigger and bigger. There are callbacks to old DC stories in the magical objects offered to Damian by his co-sponsor, the Devil Nezha…

The Golden Eye of Effron! I’d forgotten about that one, from an old issue of World’s Finest, confusing it with the Emerald Eye of Ektron from the Legion of Super-Heroes. Well, who wouldn’t? Waid also comes up with a new prop, a key that might even out-cool Superman’s Fortress ‘plane marker’.

My favourite panel, though, shows a rare moment of optimism from Batman – it’s amazing what getting your surrogate father back can do to a fella.

Former Supergirl artist Mahmud Asrar has come back to DC after a long while at Marvel to draw this series and we’re very lucky to have him. He captures Damian’s spiky defiance, animates the Batcave fight scene with huge skill and gives Batman one of his best entrances in years.

Now that’s moody. The colours of Jodie Bellaire help, of course, the dark purple complementing the black and grey. Bellaire’s work is exemplary throughout, with the Batcave especially nicely lit… it’s just a shame Robin’s current costume colour scheme – drab – precludes her giving the Boy Wonder extra visual pop. The letters of Steve Wands add another layer of comic book fun with perfect sound effects, cleverly coloured.

Asrar’s attractive montage cover is coloured by Nathan Fairbairn… I recognise everyone there but the Daisy Duck-alike… looking more closely, I think it’s someone from Robin’s series nicking Harley Quinn’s bubblegum bit.

With a cracking creative team, and a canvas as big as the DC Universe, I expect great things from this mini-series. Certainly it’s off to a marvellous start.

6 thoughts on “Batman vs Robin #1 review

  1. Damn it. I was going to skip this! I have had problems with Damien Wayne being considered a hero since he tried to kill Tim Drake and beheaded the Spook (carrying his severed head to Bruce like a cat leaving a dead bird on your doorstep!) and there were zero consequences. His last starring role in Teen Titans cemented him as a villain. He mighthave been chastised for those actions but there’s also been no consequences or remorse.

    But you said two words that will have me reading this…

    Mark. Waid.

    You really have to stop doing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that Damian should have been locked away and given help after his first appearances, but we are where we are and he’s an interesting character who no longer kills, and is great fun with tween Jon Kent.


  2. The gum chewer is “Flatline” from the Robin series, whose mentor is the most excellently named Lord Deathman. She and Robin fought (she killed him, briefly), became friends, developed a budding romance, then she appeared to betray him, but I think they got over that. I’m not sure what their current status is.

    I’ve been thinking Damians’s grays are drab, too, but then in this issue it struck me – same colors as Batman! (Damian still has a bit more color, actually.) We accept that coloring on Batman. I’m just not used to seeing it on a Robin.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I remember her from the first couple of issues, I was just too lazy to look her up. I thank you!

      Definitely, the new Robin outfit reflects Batman, but the point on the Robin colours is contrast with Batman. Also, if Damian is feeling especially rebellious he should be avoiding Dad’s colours!


  3. This was such a blast. Glad to have Asrar back in the DCU — his art is fantastic! And I was so happy to see Jakeem Thunder and Tim Hunter!

    I totally agree that Robin’s new costume is awful. It reminds me of the adult Earth-2 Robin’s costume from the Silver Age, before Neal Adams redesigned it.

    Liked by 1 person

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