Authors: Peter J. Tomasi
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The New 52 Batman and Robin Volume One
As part of the relaunch of DC’s New 52 relaunch agenda, Batman and Robin: Born to Kill is the first volume, and a new take, on Gotham’s legendary crime-fighting duo. The story focuses on two plot threads: a new villainous threat to Gotham and the relationship between Batman and Robin.
The Robin role is now occupied by Damian, the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al’Ghul. The relationship between Bruce and Damian is troubled, with each member contributing to their relationship’s dysfunction. Bruce’s inability to open up and be honest with his son causes Damian to feel some serious resentment. Damian struggles with choosing to live by the sociopathic virtues instilled in him by his mother (and the League of Shadows) or by the crime fighting virtues that are currently being instilled in him by Bruce.
The father and son conflict is what really saves the comic from becoming just another rendition of good guy vs bad guy. While the fight scenes are handled decently, it’s really not all that strong. NoBody, the villain, does prove to be a dangerous foe, and one that nearly gets the better of Batman. But his backstory is a giant revenge cliche, and as an individual character there’s nothing piqued any sort of interest for me. NoBody becomes a little more appealing when he reaches out to Damian, and tries to get him to learn his methods and abandon the teachings of his father, but the appeal there belongs to Damian.
Bruce Wayne’s attempts at parenting require a huge suspension of disbelief. For someone who’s so secretive and concerned with making sure Damian be safe … why does he make him the next Robin? That would be one of the most dangerous situations you could put your child in. It’s not that I need a deep explanation for this, but some sort of justification from Bruce’s part as to why he chose to make his own son Robin would have fixed large irritating hole in the plot. I also wanted to know why Bruce wasn’t involved in the early development of his child?
Onomatopoeia is unusually excessive in this comic. I’m not the biggest fan of spelled out sound-effects, but sometimes they can really enhance the story. Unfortunately, Batman and Robin takes it to the point where it definitely took me out it. Sure you can say “the sound-effects harken back to the Adam West days,” but why bring that back? Especially since those Batman days were really about comedy. Today, Batman is the dark crusader, a far-cry from the campy show in the 60s.
The artwork is done well, especially during the action scenes, but the binding on the softcover version of this comic has a tendency to swallow some of the artwork and dialogue boxes, which is a bit irritating. The dialogue can be real hit or miss. Most of the time it’s on, but there are a few cliched lines thrown in throughout the story. I feel generous in saying this is a decent story – mainly due to the father/son and nature/nurture conflicts – but it’s far from anything great.