STORY: Peter J. Tomasi
ART: Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray
Every bit the epilogue issue, Batman and Robin #8 wraps up the Dark Knight’s conflict with Morgan Ducard (a.k.a. Nobody) and starts putting together the pieces of his relationships with Damian. Peter J. Tomasi has done something that even many of today’s best writers don’t often show: downtime. To keep readers interested, characters are often simply thrust from one enemy/conflict to the next with no respite. And while I’m perfectly content not seeing my favorite superheroes on the toilet, I do enjoy seeing them without the mask on (figuratively), just being themselves.
This month, Damian finally listens to Bruce’s recorded words (from previous issues) about their relationship. The fight against Nobody took it’s toll on both Bruce and Damian, and Alfred enforces his 24-hour concussion lockdown, giving father and son time together that doesn’t involve stopping a weapons deal or taking out the Joker. Damian also finally names his dog, a small nuance that reaches back to issue two when Bruce first buys the dog for Damian, and playing catch in the backyard is kind of like the end result of two issues-worth of growing tension and release.
Of course, Damian is still apprehensive, telling his father “And here I thought we didn’t like each other,” to which Bruce responds, “We don’t understand each other. There’s a difference.” It’s a fitting theme for this first arc of Batman and Robin under the ‘New 52’ banner. Just because they don’t have difficult agreeing on anything, that doesn’t mean they don’t care for each other.
The issue starts dipping into cheesy territory when Damian explains, “I don’t want to end up like Ducard…without a moral compass…I don’t want to turn into a nobody. I want to be like you. I’ve always wanted to be like you.” After all this time, Damian sheds his hardened skin after one close call with death. Knowing that Batman and his Robin had a relationship before the relaunch is almost necessary, or this scene loses most of it’s meaning.