SYNOPSIS: HOUSE OF SECRETS…HOUSE OF DEATH. In the wake of Damian Wayne’s devastating attack on the Batcave, Bruce and Alfred are on the run and running out of time! Magic users across the planet are experiencing dangerous and deadly power flares, and Batman must solve this mystery before his friends and allies are turned to ash. To crack this case, the Dark Knight is going to need the help of one of the greatest masters of the magic arts on the planet…Zatanna! What awaits our ragtag group of heroes in the House of Secrets? Can Damian break free of Nezha’s possession spell before he murders his own father? All this and more in the explosive second chapter of Batman vs. Robin!
Who would’ve thought we’d see the return of Alfred in this series?
Waid’s unconventional tale across the DCU continues, building upon the threads of Batman/Superman: World’s Finest and Robin. Haven’t read those titles? No problem! Waid gives you enough of the backstory by utilizing the House of Secrets as a means to get exposition across!
Aiding and abetting him through this spooky installment is artist Mahmud Asrar and colorist Jordie Bellaire. Asrar’s pencils seem a little more loose compared to the debut issue. Not to say that they don’t look good, because they do. Batman does look a little smaller to me at times, too, but Asrar definitely succeeds in capturing the horror vibe of this installment. His Klarion somehow seems slightly more frightening with a modern twist and there’s a body horror scene involving Felix Faust that is just in time for the Halloween holiday!
Bellaire brings a diverse color palette, creating the proper mood for each scene and location. Lazarus Green jumps from the page, a stark contrast from the softer purples and pinks, not to mention the reds and oranges from some of the more Nezha-influenced scenes. Bellaire is a vital component in bringing Asrar’s art to life and setting the mood.
Waid, of course, brings it all together. His vast knowledge of the DC library is a great asset here, not only in recapping prior events but assembling a diverse, deep-cut cast of characters for this tale, spotlighting a more mystical side that we’re used to seeing with Batman.
However, that virtue is sure to turn off some readers if that style of Batman yarn isn’t your cup of tea. Personally, I’m really enjoying this book and Waid does a fine job showing why certain out-of-character events happened in the last issue. It’s all part of the mystery that is unfurling, with a dangerous trap being laid for the Caped Crusader that is years (centuries?) in the making.
With some answers given, such as the origin of the Lazarus Resin, Waid has plenty of other tricks and revelations up his sleeve, serving as great cliffhangers for next month. If you are looking for a somewhat spooky Batman comic, one with ties to the greater DCU, this is a great book to pick up! And if it isn’t your jam, there are some character moments for Batman that you won’t want to miss! I’m eager to see what Waid and company deliver next month! – Javier E. Trujillo