Batman and Robin 2023 1 Featured Reviews 

“Batman and Robin” #1

By | September 14th, 2023
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Bereft of most of their family, father and son face wacky villains and the trials of trying to actually be normal people in this new take on the “Batman and Robin” series!

Cover by Simone Di Meo
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated and Colored by Simone Di Meo
Lettered by Steve Wands

Father and son. Bruce and Damian. Batman and Robin.

From Batman vs. Robin to Knight Terrors, a lot has happened to the Dynamic Duo, but now they are back together and ready to fight crime in Gotham–just in time for Batman’s most monstrous rogues to team up to turn the city into an urban jungle! A new villain watches from the shadows, intent on revenge, with a plot to turn one of Batman’s greatest assets against him! Can Damian help his father solve the case before it’s too late?

A brand-new fun and exciting father-and-son adventure begins, from DC Comics architect Joshua Williamson and superstar artist Simone Di Meo!

Batman is often a very serious character, as is the youngest Robin, his biological son Damian Wayne. The two have worked together many times, including a prior volume of “Batman and Robin” from 2011 through to 2015. While various incarnations of the Dynamic Duo have had their characters balance between serious and humorous, these two are both the serious half of their usual partnerships, making keeping interest can be difficult for writers. This new era comes about surrounded by crossovers and events that shake both father and son as well as the entire Batman family: following “Batman vs. Robin,” ‘Lazarus Planet,’ and “Knight Terrors;” and releasing during the ongoing ‘The Gotham War’ despite taking place after it. With all of that in mind, does this latest, third run on “Batman and Robin” do enough to bring in its audience, especially with the new apparent status quo for the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder?

In a word, the attempt seems to be a success. Joshua Williamson is no stranger to the Dark Knight nor to his sidekick and son, having written both of their self-titled books in the past. However, his approach here is markedly different from that on his “Batman” or “Robin” runs, though perhaps a little closer to the latter than the former. Williamson seems to use “Batman and Robin” #1 to reestablish and expand upon the relationship between Bruce and Damian Wayne, both as civilians and as superheroes. That said, his focus seems to be on the former rather than the latter, unlike most writers. Bruce and Damian, isolated and probably estranged from the rest of the family in the wake of his conflict with the quasi-queenpin of crime Catwoman in the yet-ongoing ‘Gotham War’ crossover, only really have one another to rely upon. Williamson concentrates on mundane things like Bruce wanting his son to have a normal life (well, as much as he can), eating breakfast together, and Damian wanting his father out of his room so he can continue with his hobbies alone. Granted, the latter seems to paint him as far, far less educated and mature than he normally is, but that difference can be written off as part of the joke or otherwise unimportant in comparison to his competence of expertise in other areas. Contrary to how they are normally portrayed and the implicit serious-and-serious dynamic, this approach allows for a sizable amount of levity without actually cracking any jokes up front. After all, the idea of Bruce trying to actually be a parent is practically comedy in and of itself, including trying (and seemingly failing) to get his son to actually go to school with people his age. Such is the relaxed, fun tone of this story that in the portion focused on Bruce and Damian in their day life, the two can be seen actually smiling at one another, even if briefly, showing that for all their hardship, they do care about each other and, at least on some level, can go about their lives without their violent choice of “occupation” being all that defines them.

Aiding this more humorous approach is the menagerie of villains (no pun intended) that Williamson uses for the debut. At least one of these villains would be quite a surprise to see return at all in any major capacity if not for one of the variant covers, but the use is different enough that one might be forgiven for thinking it is either someone else entirely or a complete reinvention, in the best ways. The others chosen even beyond that one are not necessarily known to work together, but their animal-based focus calls to mind earlier stories, the wacky times of earlier eras like the Silver Age but adjusted somewhat to modern times. Even the traditional cliffhanger ending is less a horror or shock that it is simply entertaining, inviting readers along for the ride to see what happens next rather than demanding they continue.

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The fun-loving, relaxed entertainment of Williamson’s script may not have been anywhere near as effective if not for Simone Di Meo’s stellar artwork. The figures seem to move so fluidly, the angles so smooth, that everything feels brighter and livelier. Bruce and Damian’s expressions are soft but stern, making them feel inviting but also serious. With the interesting choices of villains, the soft curves help to smooth out the brutality as well. Blurs of motion make things feel much faster, and the overall effect is a much more engaging Gotham than many other stories seem to have.

The illustrations are one side of the art, but Di Meo also colors “Batman and Robin” #1. The smooth artwork is already in place, but the colors help to make it truly come to life. Warmth pervades the hues and tones, especially in the light of day, making the idea of the father and son having semi-mundane lives that others may consider “normal” almost plausible. Meanwhile, the dark of night is dangerous, but while the colors emphasize movement, they never make things seem so serious as to be impossible to see a way out or some rays of hope through the nocturnal fights.

Final Verdict: 8.0– A family dynamic both in and out of costume helps this story feel different and fun.

Gregory Ellner

Greg Ellner hails from New York City. He can be found on Twitter as @GregoryEllner or over on his Tumblr.