Stuart's Pick of the Week for 1.29.14: Batman and Robin Annual #2
Batman And… Batman and Robin is a series I have been following for awhile. I started reading it when Dick was Batman and Damian was Robin. That was probably my favorite iteration that I have read. I continued to read thru the new 52 in which it was Bruce and Damian and I really enjoyed it. After Damian’s death, there were some really strong moments in the series, but then it went downhill for me. I really like the writer, Pete Tomasi, but the series has not found its stride it once had. Since Damian’s death, the series has been using others to fill in Robin’s void: Batman and Red Robin, Batman and Red Hood, Batman and Batgirl, Batman and Catwoman, Batman and Nightwing, and finally Batman and Two Face (for three issues). Sounds clever but the execution has left much to be desired. Batman and Two Face has been extremely boring. They need to figure out something quick. In my opinion, I’d love to see Tim Drake back as the permanent Robin, but I have a feeling Damian will be coming back and things will be back on track. That is fine with me, I like Damian as well, but something needs to be done, the series is dragging.
Nothing Makes Me Nervous…
Batman and Robin Annual #2 finally ends a run of boring stories and saves the day. The problem is that they have to go into the past to do it because what is going on now just is not working. It starts off with a better time in the Bat Family. Nightwing is out on patrol with Damian. Nightwing recalls the first time he went out as Robin. We see Dick in school, just waiting on that bell to ring. This kid cannot WAIT for the adventure ahead. The bell rings and he springs to action, jumping into the limo with Alfred, excited to finally be going on patrol with Bruce. He shows Bruce the suit he would like to use and it does not go over well. Bruce is not amused. He tells Dick that he needs to put on a suit that enables him to stay in the shadows.
Sooo, look at this costume. Ridiculous, I get the humor in it and I love the hint at what is to come. I have to ask though, isn’t this suit better when fighting in the shadows? Isn’t it better than yellow, red and green? Why yes, yes it is. So
Get Out and Go To Bed…
We next see Robin in his normal outfit. Now, this is year one Robin, right? Why does he look like he is is dressed like Damian? This is something that really bothers me. Batman has his new 52 outfit on and Dick Grayson has a new 52 Robin outfit.
Why? DC is shoving down this “new” continuity down our throats and it is starting to get old quick and at some points seems to be spitting on the past. People aren’t dumb. They remember what Robin first looked like. Trying to change that is a MAJOR roadblock for me. People may say “you’d rather have Robin in tights with green looking Speedo?” Yes. “You’d rather see Batman with underwear on the outside? “ Yes. Remember that line in X-Men where Wolverine makes a comment on wearing “yellow spandex?” Yes, I’d rather see him in yellow spandex. It isn’t an odd look to me, it is a classic look and I think changing the suits is not something that I am on board with. Anyway, back to the comic. Batman gives Robin a pregame speech for his protection: stay back and do not engage. Batman engages the bad guys and, naturally, Dick, bored, disobeys and takes out a villain himself (with great relish). Love the art here…
Again, Batman is not amused and fires him. Batman took a chance on having a young ward and it went wrong the very first day. I can see where Batman would be angry. He took this kid in, it is his responsibility. The next day Dick talks to Alfred and says that he was not scared at all during the fight, that maybe Bruce was jealous and felt that Dick could be better than Bruce. Alfred says “I’m sure that must be it.” Nice. Dick apologizes to Bruce and says he can do better, but again is rejected.
Time to Pick on Somebody My Size…
Batman is called out and Grayson secretly goes out anyway. He thinks he has it all figured out and that Batman is going to the wrong location. He gleefully takes out the bad guys until a HUGE figure named Tusk shows up.
He has Robin cornered but naturally Batman is there to help. He knew all along where he needed to be. Tusk orders his friends to shoot Dick and Batman gets EXTREMELY upset. This sadly won’t be the last time a Robin causes him such grief. This must be his worst nightmare and it is playing out all in the first week of Dick being Robin. Tusk escapes in a helicopter with Grayson in tow. Grayson shows again that nothing makes him nervous and , with a huge smile on his face, he jumps right out of the helicopter, swings under the helicopter, comes back inside and takes out tusk, with one of his tusks being ripped off.
He points a gun at Tusk and Batman quickly stops Robin, saying “that’s a mistake I would never forgive. But others are negotiable.” This is the beginning of a beautiful partnership.
Winner and Still Champion…
Back to current times we were told that there was a package that Bruce found in the attic that had Grayson’s name on it. He gives it to Dick and asks if he knew what it meant. Grayson tells Bruce about the conversation he and Damian had about his first time as Robin and the adventure with Tusk. He recalled that he and Tusk had many a run in after that but eventually Tusk disappeared of the face of the earth. Grayson had no idea where he was or why he stopped being a pest. Well, the box is opened and we see a tusk. In it is a note from Damian saying “Hey, old Robin. Got him. Let me know if you need any more of my help taking down your bad guys —Damian.” End. Classis Damian.
It was fun reading a story with Grayson as Robin. I haven’t read too many as most of the Robin stories I’m familiar with involve later Robins. I love how Grayson was so excited to fight crime, not jaded by Gotham’s ugly face. He is smiling the entire issue it seems. He had fun and so did I. I loved the back and forth he has with Bruce, their dynamic is what makes this comic work. It was nice to see Damian again. I’ve missed him while he has been dead. I love his smart aleck comments and his crazy amount of arrogance. He was so sure of himself. The Bruce/Damian dynamic is something I’m a HUGE fan of. Bruce learning to become a father, Damian learning not to kill things. The Nightwing/Damian dynamic is just as great. This series misses him. This was a good comic because it goes back in time and tells stories we care about. It is depressing to know the next comic in the series will once again bring us back to the whole Batman and fill in the blank thing. FIX THIS!