BATMAN and ROBIN (2023) #4 Review

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SYNOPSIS: Batman and Robin have been separated! Batman works with White Rabbit to track down the new femme fatale Shush while his son, Damian, hunts down the criminal mastermind who is targeting his father! But Damian won’t like who he finds! Don’t miss out on the shocking ending!

Flashback time again as the latest issue opens, finding a younger Damian being tested mentally and physically by his teacher, Mistress Harsh. Former Batman artist Mikel Janin shares the art chores with Simone Di Meo in this issue and the change is obvious, though something about Janin’s style is different. There’s no mention of an inker, so maybe Janin is trying to match Di Meo’s style.

Jumping to the present, Robin is captured by a monologuing Man-Bat, who, having cheated death and evolved, is calling himself simply, “The Bat”. He blames Batman for taking his symbol and locking Gotham in an endless, dark cycle. For all his talk and his hulking new form, he takes off when Batman and the White Rabbit arrive, scooping up Shush and leaving the Terrible Trio to fight the heroes. It all goes by too quickly and feels like a waste.

Artists change once again as Dr. Kafira gets rescued. Stuff happened, but no one knows why, other than whatever The Bat is working on, it is filling its subjects with rage. Janin looks more on form here, with a beautiful two-page splash of Batman and Robin leaping off into the night in the perfect end of an issue shot.

Except it isn’t. Damian has to go to school and Bruce accompanies him to make sure he goes, leading to Damian getting teased by his classmates. Williamson makes some leaps in storytelling here, putting together pieces that don’t feel earned and don’t create suspense or excitement.

One such leap is Shush. We don’t have all the specifics on the motivation/origin yet, but the identity is revealed, leaving me completely underwhelmed. I feel no threat from this new villain, who winds up being a flunkie or sidekick to the new and improved Man-Bat, rather than a dangerous, new challenger in Gotham. Everyone assumed there was a connection to Hush based on the name and costume, but that may not be the case after all. The big problem is none of this is exciting or a shock twist. It’s just there.

Bruce continues to be the secondary character in the title. It’s a stark contrast to other books where he is clearly in charge and setting the rules. Damian runs the roost here, with Batman feeling unintelligent by comparison.

With a lackluster wrap-up that feels pointless, the only thing I enjoyed from reading this was the aforementioned splash pages by Janin. Shush has left me bored, the threat of The Bat seems pointless for now, and this title might as well be “Robin & Batman” instead of a more interesting dynamic. I enjoyed Williamson on Robin, but this book is missing the mark for me completely. Javier E. Trujillo

GRADE: C-

 

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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.