Saturday, 14 January 2012
Review: Batman And Robin #5
Batman And Robin #5 By Tomasi / Gleason
Batman And Robin has so far been one of the titles that seems to have been lost in the shuffle since D.C's much vaunted relaunch. With Scott Synder's more simply titled Batman series attracting rave reviews, Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's series has been shifted to one side, perhaps unfairly given the solid stories that have been produced by the duo.
Their fifth issues sees Batman reeling after learning that his son Damian, the latest youth to wear the Robin costume, has defected to join forces with the mercenary Morgan Ducard. Despite having generally altruistic goals, Ducard's slightly more morally dubious methods promise to allow Damian the chance to let loose, and live up to his bloodthirsty upbringing. Along the way Batman recounts Ducard's origin, giving us an interesting look at a man who promises to be an engaging villain - or perhaps even antihero. Ducard has been an enigmatic figure throughout this series, something that I felt has harmed it at times. His origin was well told however, and reveals him as a figure who shares some intriguing similarities with both Damian and Batman himself.
As with the rest of the series, this issue also gives us a look into Batman's psyche, revealing some of the difficulties that he has found with being a father to Damian. The idea is fairly solid, but perhaps not as clever as Tomasi thinks it is. It doesn't help that Damian himself is a fairly one note and unlikable character. For me, he seems to hold far more potential as a villain than at Batman's side. Batman has seemed a rather passive figure at times in this series, and although it makes sense given his status as a father to Damian, it stands slightly at odds with what makes the character interesting. Although Tomasi shows him taking to the streets in a bid to find his son, greater emphasis is placed on his thought processes - I tend to prefer him written as a man of action.
This issue is solid in every respect. Tomasi's writing is very polished and Gleason's pencils are understated, but still stylised and with a tone suitable for Batman's world. It still seems to lack 'wow factor' though, for want of a better phrase. The build up has been slow and measured, but so far there has been little pay off. This approach may have worked had Damian been a more engaging character, but as it is there is little reason to care particularly deeply about him. It is welcome to see development given to Morgan Ducard however, and he seems a promising character. It seems churlish to criticise such a well crafted series, but despite being competent in every respect Batman And Robin still seems critically lacking in bite.