BATMAN AND ROBIN (2023-) #5 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!

A new year is upon us and artist Nikola Čižmešija steps in for Simone Di Meo, bringing a very manga-style influence and tone to the proceedings. The shift in tone starts right away as we see Bruce Wayne serving pancakes to some of the moms at Damian’s school. Čižmešija’s art is very clear and easy to follow, despite the exaggeration, and his sense of kineticism steps in during the action as Batman and Robin give chase to Orca!

Damian’s “infiltration” of his high school hasn’t resulted in much intel or friendships it seems. While still being smaller in stature, Čižmešija’s Damian comes off as a little older than Di Meo’s or Melnikov’s. Not necessarily a bad thing, but he feels just a bit older because of it. Damian’s expressions, particularly during his soccer tryout, add to the manga sensibility.

I’d say Čižmešija would be right at home if this book was Robin. As this is the fifth issue, I think it’s safe to say we’ve got the tone established given that Williamson is pretty much picking up where he left off, only this time Batman is along for the ride.

Batman is what continues to be my problem with this title, unfortunately. He again feels subservient to his son. While I get giving Damian more of the spotlight in this title (after all, how many solo books is Bruce starring in monthly?), Bruce shouldn’t be coming off as less intelligent than his son. Maybe it could work if this was being told solely from Damian’s point of view and his journalistic stylings reflected that he saw everyone as beneath him, because let’s face it, he does. That unfortunately isn’t what Williamson is doing here though. While it’s funny to see Bruce Wayne playing dad in public and causing the soccer moms of Gotham to swoon, I just don’t care to see Batman being led by Robin.

The “mystery” of Shush gains little headway, but Williamson throws in a twist reveal at the end for a new character that has me intrigued. However, I hope this book doesn’t become Batman & Son fighting Villain & Child every issue. That dynamic would get old really fast.

While I felt this was a step up from last month — Čižmešija’s being a big part of that — my overall complaints remain. Batman doesn’t feel like the “World’s Greatest Detective”, there isn’t a sense of this fitting in with the current titles (where Bruce is missing a hand), and I’m not feeling excitement over Shush. Still, there was a sense of fun to this issue and I kinda dug Čižmešija’s new scuba Batsuit. I really shouldn’t, but there’s a kid inside me that enjoys seeing these off-the-wall Kenner-style costume variants. I think if you’re fellow contributor Peter Verra you’ll love this comic. As for me, I’ll find other books to get excited about. 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.