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Thursday, November 10, 2011

DAMN Good Comics -- BATMAN AND ROBIN #3

For such an arrogant little punk, Damian Wayne certainly knows how to keep things interesting.

Since the "New 52" relaunch of Batman and Robin, writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Patrick Gleason have been steadily developing the title into one of the top three Batman books in this new era.  Damian, the current Robin, continues to walk that razor-thin line between good and evil and a result, it makes this ten-year-old terror one of DC Comics' freshest characters in years.

This particular issue, appropriately titled "Knightmoves," focuses on distractions and misdirections, first by Alfred Pennyworth as he and Damian face off in a game of chess, then by Batman himself as he seemingly manipulates his son into going out on patrol as Robin against direct orders.  Essentially, Robin becomes bait to lure Nobody, the villain of this storyline, out into the open so that Batman can capture him.

Some writers have had difficulty with Damian's strong personality, but Tomasi definitely isn't one of them.  His Damian remains fearless (or tactless, take your pick) about comparing Alfred's age to a 200-year-old chess set, smacking his defeated king piece from the board in a childish snit, or brutally beating on a mugger until he ends up with brain death.  The character's dark nature, fueled by his mother Talia al Ghul, is deliberately encouraged by the black-armored Nobody, who stops just short of saying "Come with me to the Dark Side of the Force."  Tomasi obviously sees the story potential in exploring Damian's darkness and thankfully, fully realizes that potential here.

And with this type of subject matter, you can't go wrong with having Gleason as artist.  His work is rich with shadows, as every good Batman book should have, with crisp and distinctive figures that grab your attention.  Tomasi gives Gleason a considerable amount of violence in this issue, but the artist handles it effortlessly, giving the scenes impact without making them overly excessive or gratuitous.

All in all, Batman and Robin is a solid gem that may tend to get lost in the current ten (Ten!) Batman-related titles of The New 52.  If you don't already get this title and find yourself losing interest in something else, do yourself a favor and make the switch...

...or you might end up getting your ass kicked by a ten-year-old.

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