Batman & Robin #3
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, and John Kalisz
Letters by Patrick Brosseau
Published by DC Comics
Review by George Marston
'Rama Rating 9/10
As odd as it seems for a book as elemental as Batman & Robin, it seems as though the title is one of the lowest profile to come out of the New 52. Maybe it's because it got one of the least jarring shake-ups, keeping the same creative team that had been working on it before the jump, but really I think it's because there's really very little about Batman & Robin that's controversial or polarizing. And you know what? That's its biggest strength. Batman & Robin remains one of the few new DC titles that I am able to enjoy without caveat. Peter Tomasi's take on Batman as an actual father is refreshing and new, and jives perfectly with Scott Snyder's take on the character over in his eponymous series. On top of that, Patrick Gleason remains my favorite artist currently working on the Dynamic Duo, as he is unafraid to wash his pages in bold blacks, relying as much on shape and definition as he does on detail and storytelling. Batman & Robin is now three issues in, and is only picking up steam.
Perhaps the most interesting things about Tomasi's run so far is Bruce Wayne embracing his role as Damien's father, not just as Bruce and Damien Wayne, but as the titular Batman and Robin. Bruce has been a surrogate father figure to numerous Robins over the years, even going so far as to legally adopt his previous charge, Tim Drake, but this is the first time we've seen him dealing with his own flesh and blood. It's an exciting dichotomy, watching Alfred attempt to instill some element of fatherly love into Bruce's usually grim facade, while Batman grows almost tender with his treatment of his heir, doting and protecting him despite Damien's insistence that he can handle himself.
This issue sees the dynamic pushed even further, as Bruce forbids Damien from operating as Robin while the dangerous villain that's plagued the duo for the last two issues remains at large. Of course Damien disobeys, as is his nature, and what follows certainly shows what Batman's weakness really is; his connection to his sidekicks and family. Tomasi handles the situation deftly, never relying on "Killing Joke" style ultraviolence, but instead focusing on the psychological aspects inherent in attacking father and son. Maybe his love for Damien is making him careless, but Batman's finally showing his human side.
Batman & Robin is a prime example of what the new DCU needs more of. It's consistent, exciting, and succeeds on its own merits. It doesn't rely on shock value, or controversy to drive its stories, instead building tension through character development and distinct, moody storytelling and art. It may not be making any headlines day to day, but it's a book that's well worth reading, and a prime example of what might have been if every relaunched title was given the respect and attention that Batman & Robin has received from its creative team. The comics world needs more titles like this.