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.



  1. Funny thing... We have the same rating, but I agree with almost nothing you say.

    Gleason in Batman's world is perfection for me, I love the way Gleason draws this title (Pre-Relaunch, check out the Manbat/Angel of light arc for some amazing artwork)

    I think Damian Wayne is a very well written character, when handled by Morrison and Tomasi. Other writers, not so much, but I like how Tomasi handles him.

    My big thing that knocks this down is there is absolutely no need for this to be a... however long arc it is. I'm tired of every Bat title taking a year to tell a damn story.

    This title needs a Dick Grayson cameo issue, because Dick raised Damian much better than Bruce has and the dynamic between Dick/Damian trumps Bruce/Damian.

  2. That is strange isn't it? Although it could be to do with the fact that I picked this up having never bought a Batman title regularly, with no knowledge whatsoever of Damian. Perhaps I would find him more engaging had I been reading the title under Morrison.

    I do agree with you that the arc seems overly stretched, and I think we also share the same feelings on Gleason's artwork. I'm loving it too, although it doesn't stand out as much as some of his contemporaries I wouldn't say that that's a bad thing at all.

    As always, thanks for the comment. Always much appreciated.