BATMAN and ROBIN (2023-) #9 Review

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SYNOPSIS: Who will be Gotham’s true protector? The people of Gotham will decide! While his father fights for his life, Damian now knows Shush’s secrets, and it’s only created more problems for him as a high school student and as Robin! Can the Dynamic Duo find each other before it’s too late?


Shush stands officially revealed!

The question is, do I care?

Before we get to that, Simone Di Meo is back, opening and closing the issue with his signature style. The red Gotham skyline harkens back to Batman: The Animated Series, which feels fitting for a story opening with a Man-Bat conflict. I appreciated the callbacks to past storylines in other DC books that utilized Man-Bat, adding some legitimacy to some possibly overlooked comics. I had forgotten he spent some time on the Justice League!

The middle portion, primarily at Gotham City High School, finds Damian and Flatline getting into all kinds of trouble, including a food fight of all things! As one can imagine, Damian is proficient at that, too, which lands him in the principal’s office, the very same principle that he believes is Shush.

The art here is provided by Nikola Čižmešija, returning once again to lend an assist. This should be the part he was assigned, as it best fits his particular skill set. It’s a little jarring to go from the neon colorings that Di Meo employs to the more traditional color palette that gets employed here, but by restricting it to the high school portion it kind of works.

Revelations abound in this section, including the truth about Shush. I can’t say I’m now fond of this character or their origin, but it has recontextualized some things for me and makes me want to go back and look at the preceding issues with fresh eyes under this new context. In that sense, job well done, Mr. Williamson.

Heading to the climax, we revert to Damian being smarter than his father and him needing to come to Batman’s rescue. I wish Williamson could find more of a balance. I won’t belabor the point more than I have in past reviews, but Batman in this title feels inadequate at both the job of Batman and capable father.

Despite my usual criticisms, I did enjoy the issue. The switch in styles between Di Meo and Čižmešija is sure to dismay some readers, particularly if you prefer one over the other, but I think they both have assigned storylines that play well to their respective strengths. I particularly liked Di Meo this time — the splash page and two-page spreads were well done with a great sense of scope. Batman and Robin still is far from being my favorite Bat book, but I had some fun with it this month and it will be interesting to see what Bruce does about Shush’s truth. Javier E. Trujillo

GRADE: B