Saturday, January 24, 2015

Batman & Robin #38: Back to Basics

TITLE: Batman & Robin #38
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
PENCILLER: Patrick Gleason
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: January 21, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Whew… It’s finally over.

Almost two years after the needless and silly death of yet another Robin, which ultimately served to make Batman look more negligent and foolish than anything else (but that’s another story), Batman & Robin is finally back on track. Bruce and Damian Wayne are back together as the Dynamic Duo. And what’s more, Damian has superpowers.

Indeed, moments after his resurrection, Damian and his surrogate family discovered that the Boy Wonder had developed super powers. Robin can now fly, and is also equipped with super strength. Thus Damian, who was nearly too much for Batman to handle from the start, is now potentially even more of a loose cannon. In Batman & Robin #38, Damian seeks to correct one of the many horrid acts committed by the al Ghul family using his DNA. And even Batman can only watch from afar.

Batman & Robin #38 allows Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason to finally get back to basics, and resume doing what they’ve always done best in this book: Examining the dynamic between Bruce and Damian, father and son, Batman and Robin. To say the least Bruce is an unconventional father, who has some mommy and daddy issues in his own right. But through his son, he’s now able to see both himself and his parents in a new light (see Batman & Robin, Vol. 1: Born to Kill). Meanwhile, Damian not only has to adjust to having a father, but to living under Bruce’s code and keeping his violent tendencies in check. This unique relationship has made Batman & Robin one of the more compelling Bat-books on the stands since the start of the New 52. At times, it’s even been better than what the almighty Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have been producing.

Tomasi & Gleason give Damian a nice, and perfectly fitting recklessness in this issue, as he dives headfirst into a flurry of bullets. Then, as he tries to fly away, Batman simply grips him by his shoelaces and says: “Feet on the ground. Now.” That’s a great little moment. Even when Damian has superpowers, he’s still beholden to his father.

We also see Damian try to wrap his mind around the fact that he was indeed dead, which results in a dream sequence that allows Gleason to get his spooky on. It’s not the fright-fest that the Death of the Family issues were. But it’s fun to see Gleason revisit this kind of thing.

Close to the end of the issue, there’s also a heart-wrenching shot of Damian, face-to-face with one of his deformed clones. The expression on the clone’s face makes this one of the more memorable images in the entire series.

Batman & Robin #38 is a breath of fresh air, and a return to something a little less on the moody and broody side. Part of the fun of Robin is that he exposes parts of Batman’s humanity that we might not have seen otherwise. He’s not just a detective. He’s not just a crime fighter. He’s also a father and a mentor. It’s good to have that Batman back again.

Written by: Rob Siebert

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