STORY: Peter J. Tomasi
ART: Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, Keith Champagne, and Dustin Nguyen
This week at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Scott Lobdell revealed that Tim Drake went straight from a regular kid – with a knack for detective work – to Red Robin, without actually spending any time as Batman’s official sidekick. This change sent waves through the comic book community, most of them negative. Tim Drake is definitely as popular – if not more so – as Dick Grayson, so it’s odd that DC would so easily let Lobdell change continuity all willy-nilly. The reason I bring up this revamp is that Tim is still included in Peter J. Tomasi’s “War of the Robins” story that’s been the best part of Batman and Robin the past two months, even though he (now!) was never technically a Robin.
Damian takes his fight to Red Hood this issue, and DC has labeled it in promotional materials as the beginning of the newest Robin’s quest to defeat all the former ones, even though he technically did beat Tim Drake last month in a battle of morality and ethical dilemmas. Perhaps this is DC’s attempt to clean up the Robin retcon by saying Tim’s encounter with Damian wasn’t an actual fight that falls under the classification of “War of the Robins”. But that seems a bit silly.
Nonetheless, Red Hood’s turn is here. Jason Todd returns to his Gotham apartment, exhausted, only to find himself ambushed by Damian. Batman’s son truly is a great character. What could have simply been a new Robin content to live a life of servitude under his father’s wing has become a complex ten-year-old child leading a life of someone thrice his age. This facet of Damian was explored throughout the first eight issues of Batman and Robin, as Tomasi looked to show that Robin has problems and issues more akin to weathered assassins than his peers playing in schoolyards. Of course, Damin is 10 years old, so he’s still got some insecurities that come with that age. One of which happens to be an inferiority complex when it comes to his mantle as Robin.
Damian Wayne is Bruce’s only biological son, but the man has two other sons who he feels more connected with. Damian’s dilemma isn’t an uncommon one for children raised by a single parent – he’s figuring out how to manage a relationship with the absent parent. And in this case, Damian feels that in order to prove himself to his father, he must defeat Bruce’s former surrogate children.
Unlike last month, Tomasi spends a majority of this issue focused on Terminus. This slowly decaying villain has sent out a cadre of super-powered thugs to brand as many Gotham citizens as possible with Batman’s symbol. Terminus has managed to turn the city’s symbol of hope (no matter how dark and twisted that hope may be) into one of fear…again. At one point, Batman’s just standing in a plaza, surrounded by buildings all triggered to explode at the same time. “Leave my city ALONE!” screams Batman as he has a hundred million times before. Tomasi is taking the easy way out, making Gotham the scapegoat in this pissing match riled up by Terminus for reasons unapparent so far. Sure, Tomasi threw us a bone last month with some cryptic flashbacks into Terminus’ life, but they did little to give meaning to this villain’s actions. All we know is that Termy sees himself as Gotham’s true son and seeks to knock Batman off his high-and-mighty pedestal.
With two plot lines running simultaneously, Tomasi should be focusing on “War of the Robins”, a narrative that actually has a purpose and can give real insight to Batman’s various sidekicks throughout the years – it’s a character-driven plot that has a lot more potential. Terminus’ plot to make the city his own is one that has been done to death for the last sixty years of Batman’s history, and it feels like more of a support story that’s getting too much limelight.