Writer/Penciler: Patrick Gleason
Inker: Mick Gray
Let me first say that Damian Wayne is about my least favorite character in all of comics. I cannot stand that snot mouthed little psychopathic brat. I’m not sure exactly how old he is supposed to be, but this Son of Batman run feels like they are accelerating him to his teenage years. The Robin portrayed in this issue feels fourteen or fifteen. He is more approachable as a character in this mode, and a bit more realistic and understandable. This might be the beginning of a turn-around in terms of Damian’s popularity, and that would be a good thing.
This is my first issue of Robin Son of Batman, so I am not entirely certain what preceded this issue. But in Issue #2, Damian is arriving in a small Hispanic town (not certain if it is somewhere in South or Central America) to restore their Guardian. Years ago, during his training with the League of Assassin’s, he decapitated the town’s Guardian ( don’t worry; it’s a stone robotic statue) in a mission to retrieve a sword for the League. The negative side-effect is that the Guardian was the thing keeping the drug cartel soldiers from using the town to their own benefit. Damian has some things to set right and then make amends.
I imagine that Damian must be a tough character for a writer to get their arms around. Writer/Penciler Patrick Gleason makes some interesting choices here. He elects to have Damian, as I mentioned earlier, not be such the little snot that he was before. Gleason has moved him to this in-between place; somewhere where he is periodically trying to find his way towards an honorable path, while vestiges of the entitled boy he was remains. The issue and the character of Damian perfectly capture the essence of a boy crossing the divide into manhood.
The art is a skosh off. Two different colorists on this issue, John Kalisz and Jeromy Cox, and I think I can tell where the split is. I prefer the palette in the last few pages of the book. The first 2/3d’s of the story are very bright, reflecting the South American setting. But the colors do not feel like they represent Damian. In the final few pages, the palette gets softer, grayer, and in combination with some things Gleason does with Damian’s cape, feels more suited to the character and story. I do not always like Gleason’s combat scenes and choreography, but he does some excellent work with Damian’s cloak, and I even like the hooded look if he uses it sparingly.
All-in-all, I liked this issue a heck of a lot better than I thought I was going to. I typically find Damian nauseating and I was expecting more of the same. It is good to see that Gleason plans on moving the character along and aging him a bit (which is what I wish they did with all characters). This book is just a bit off from being truly excellent, though. Damian needs more emotional context by interacting with some other characters that are truly relevant. The relationship between he and Goliath could get there, but right now it is just a boy-and-his-dog sort of fare. Partnering up with the mysterious Nobody could lead him down that path. With a couple of heartstring hooks in the gamut, Robin Son of Batman could be a great run.