BATMAN AND ROBIN (2023) #1 Review

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SYNOPSIS: Father and son. Bruce and Damian. Batman and Robin. From Batman vs. Robin to Knight Terrors, a lot has happened to the Dynamic Duo, but now they are back together and ready to fight crime in Gotham-just in time for Batman’s most monstrous rogues to team up to turn the city into an urban jungle! A new villain watches from the shadows, intent on revenge, with a plot to turn one of Batman’s greatest assets against him! Can Damian help his father solve the case before it’s too late? A brand-new fun and exciting father-and-son adventure begins, from DC Comics architect Joshua Williamson and superstar artist Simone Di Meo!

Batman and Robin relaunches yet again, this time under the “Dawn of DC” banner, under the familiar pen of writer Joshua Williamson. Williamson, no stranger to Damian, having written the recent Robin solo book, not to mention Batman/Superman, has brought the young hero back to Gotham, trading in the mansion for Bruce’s current brownstone.

Overall, I enjoyed his run on Robin, where he added a great deal of characterization and humanity to the troubled teen. I was excited to see him bring his touch to the Dynamic Duo now that they are reunited once again.

However, something felt off to me once I began reading this inaugural issue. Batman and Robin, interrupting an aerial heist/kidnapping by White Rabbit, felt a little too jocular, making me think we had entered a dream sequence, complete with a Dark Knight who rhymes and fist-bumps. It felt out of character for a man who is currently dealing with a personal civil war in his main title. Before you point out that this is a different book, perhaps operating in a different time, current events, such as the Gotham War, are indeed mentioned throughout the narrative by Bruce and Damian, so we are clearly happening concurrently (tho’ we haven’t mentioned Bruce’s robotic hand).

As the story progressed, I was able to ease into the narrative slightly better, enjoying Bruce trying to bond with his son, despite his ability to make proper tea. It’s important to note how much attention Damian paid to Alfred’s ways, emphasizing how the loss has affected him. I wish our favorite butler was back in the main continuity, but at least we can enjoy seeing Bruce struggle for a bit with the simpler things.

I appreciated seeing Damian’s doodles and imagination on display, a nice carry-over from the Robin series. While Damian and Bruce share the spotlight, I can’t help but feel Damian gets a little more of an edge here, not only showing up his dad in the kitchen and after-hours detective skills but a new ride to boot. I’m curious to see how Williamson handles the balance as this title progresses.

Italian artist Simone Di Meo certainly makes a splash here, tackling both the art and colors. His vibrant, neon-hued palette certainly makes Gotham sparkle, recollecting Schumacher’s Batman & Robin, albeit with far more shadows. The off-kilter panel work adds dynamism to the storytelling, with even the compositions of Bruce and Damian at home feeling exciting.

Despite a rocky start for me, I did get some enjoyment out of the book. I’m happy to see Batman & Robin together and feel that Bruce and Damian don’t get enough time as a pair. I’m perfectly content seeing Tim join up with Bruce in Batman and Damian getting his quality time here. The mystery is falling a little flat for me (not helped by DC announcing who it is), but the art makes up for any shortcomings narratively. With past volumes written by Morrison and Tomasi, Williamson has a high bar to live up to. Only time will tell if he can reach those heights. Javier E. Trujillo

GRADE: B-

 

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Javier Trujillo
Javier E. Trujillo was a Batman fan long before the 1989 blockbuster opened on his 12th birthday. After following BATMAN-ON-FILM.COM -- the "Dad-Gum Original" -- since its inception, he started to write for BoF in 2019, covering Batman's 80th anniversary. He's a lover of all eras and aspects of The Dark Knight, but artist Jim Aparo will always be how he pictures him. When on the internet, odds are it's because he's talking about Batman or James Bond (or MAYBE Wally West). He resides in the "Live Music Capital of the World" (and also the genesis of Adam West's Bat-Boat), Austin, TX. You can follow him on Twitter @JaviTru or on Instagram @TheBondIsNotEnough.