BATMAN & ROBIN #40 Review & Spoilers
“SuperPower, pt. 3: The Dynamic Duo” (20 pages)
Story by: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils by: Patrick Gleason
Inks by: Mick Gray
Colors by: John Kalisz
Letters by: Carlos M. Mangual
Covers by: Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, John Kalisz; movie poster variant by Tommy Lee Edwards
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
The story of the demigod-ish Damian a.k.a the Bat-Son has come to a close!! Take out your hankies now and have a good cry. I already did. There’s only a tinge of sadness as Damian will continue to rock on in his own deserving title come June.
On with the show! As the Justice League race to Japan with Robin in tow, Wonder Woman joins the boys’ club. She emphatically states that she can’t let them have all the fun. Damian is all systems go as the island is completely abandoned and the creature in question turns out to be cybernetic. Let ‘er rip!! Damian takes a good crack (or should I say KRAKK?) at the mecha-monster as he snootily accepts permission to inflict as much damage as necessary.
Robin is snatched by the cyber-giant before ZZRAPP, heat vision pops out much to his surprise and everyone else’s. Superman gives him some pointers (natch!) and coordinates the attack. Teamwork has no I in it, right? That tactic fails large. Shazam enthusiastically advances and urges Robin to join him. A new duo in the making?? As Damian tears off a radio tower and shoves it down the giant’s gull, Shazam calls down his magic lightning to short-circuit the automaton. Eureka! It worked!! Good old Shazam even goes so far to suggesting that he and Robin should be The Brave and the Bold. Oh no he didn’t just name-drop an ultra-cool designation, did he? WOOT WOOT! Damian thinks of himself as a solo act, so much so that he flies towards the Bat-plane and offers his future aid to the Justice League.
Fake-out!! Once Damian has departed, Batman thanks his colleagues for the staged scenario. Say what?!? I must be dumb cuz that one hit me right side the head. The twist continues — Batman organized this to tap out Damian’s powers. NNNOOO!! Best supporting cast member award should go to Cyborg who had a major hand in this. He really is the brains of the operation and the wild card in this mix. When Robin inquires what Batman discussed with the League, Bats simply states that it was about clean-up and getting Damian home since it’s a school night. Bruce really has parenting down-pat or should I say down-bat? *drum effect* I chuckled at Damian’s flippancy when he retorts that it is his elder that needs rest, not him.
This fight took up almost the first half of the book. I was so worried that there wouldn’t be enough “time” for character development and plot resolving, but my fears were quickly put to rest. The lightning pace made it seem like it wasn’t even nine pages.
Damian’s enthusiasm is through the roof, almost. He is super-psyched from his brief team-up with the League. He can’t contain his zeal. As such, he grabs Alfred and throws him upward. Batman casually asks Robin not to break their butler. Alfred, in perfect scolding fashion, reiterates Batman’s directive. Dinner time. A growing boy’s gotta eat and Damian is no exception. To say that he wolfs down enormous amounts of food is a gross understatement. While he furiously chomps away, Bruce and Alfred talk over young master Wayne’s condition. It’s a good thing Damian doesn’t have super-hearing. The power binge has put him rightly to sleep, plus the exertion of his performance.
The next scene warms the cockles of my heart. Bruce gently takes his son to bed and tucks him in. He espies an envelope addressed to him and Alfred. Damian has finished painting the family portrait. Alfred is beyond pleased, as am I. Three generations of the Bat-Clan are neatly portrayed. The two continue their conversation from the dinner table. Bruce is really hoping for Damian’s extra-special abilities to dissipate sooner than later. He explains to Alfie exactly how everything went down. He’s extremely proud of his son who let precision and poise replace power. Alfie states he’s proud of Bruce as well. Who wouldn’t be? Fatherhood fits Bruce like a form-fitted black leather glove.
The morning after. So many implications come with that phrase. Damian’s eagerness knows no bounds as he asks Titus “What mountains should I move today, hmm?” That’s no metaphor! He happily notices that Bruce took the portrait. He gets a papercut from handling the envelope. He is incredulous at this situation. When he tries to light the fireplace with his heat vision, and fails, he opts to fly. The heroic stance and leap almost make him go splat. As he hangs on the ledge, in view of the window, Bruce is somewhat unfazed and not totally unhappy. He doesn’t mince words with Damian. He’s beyond thrilled that his son’s super-humanness seems to have disappeared. The questions will remain unanswered since it all came about through extraordinary circumstances. Damian accepts the setback. Their heart-to-heart is interrupted by the call-to-arms.
Akin to a scene from the Batman series of the 60’s, Alfred turns the hands of the grandfather clock to reveal the entrance to the Batcave. Father and son energetically slide down the Bat-poles. YYESS!! They suit up, again almost entirely like the campy TV show, and jump into the Batmobile. Their menagerie shows some face too — Titus, Batcow, and Alfred the Cat.
The last two pages appropriately showcase the one-and-only Dynamic Duo swinging through Gotham. Four sentences break their aerials. Robin asks if something is wrong with Batman. The reason? The Dark Knight is smiling. Batman replies in the affirmative and shows the widest grin he’s ever made (without being hit with Joker gas). The man is beaming so much that he’s competing with the Bat-signal. Robin also shows his pearly whites. This is how a real hero combo should look, act, and feel. FINIS.
There’s hope. BATMAN & ROBIN ANNUAL #3 comes out next week. This is assuredly the very last chapter written by scribe supreme Peter Tomasi.
Denial is a river in Egypt. The last page ended on such a high note that part of me refuses to believe that this title is now defunct. It’s fabulous that Damian gets his own spotlight but not enough accolades can be thrown at Mr. Peter J. Tomasi. This man stuck by all forty issues of this run (as well as the three annuals and the additional #0 and #23.1). Through it all, the growth in Bruce and Damian’s relationship as well as their heroic counterparts has improved leaps and bounds. Mr. Tomasi started the first story arc in the most dark and intense way. Damian lived up to his killer ways, putting any chances of a normal childhood in jeopardy. Luckily, through steely resolve and hard work, Bruce/Batman never gave up on his son/successor. The picture was becoming brighter until Damian was put down to rest. The intensity reached a fever pitch. The return to the “norm” solidifies the dynamics (no pun intended) between these two. I eagerly await Patrick Gleason’s new hat as writer of the young Wayne’s solo adventures. I’m sure he’ll carry on the legacy left behind by his collaborator.
Segue!! Pat’s pencils provide pristine polish to the panels and pages. He really shows his chops with the flying silhouettes imprinted on the clouds on page 1, Shazam’s somewhat goofy but loveable face on page 6, and the three-dimensional perspective as the duo descend the Bat-poles on page 17. There are other examples to mention but I don’t want to waste more space. He balances the shadow and light. Also, Robin radiates such unbridled youthful glee in all he does.
Mick Gray definitely works side-by-side with Pat. The silhouettes of the vehicles are detailed enough that one doesn’t have to see the entire picture. He also gets to put Damian in the funniest of poses for that much-needed injection of humour.
Equilibrium continues to be maintained by John Kalisz. The traditional/go-to colours are not diminished in the least. Once again, I’m impressed with the silhouettes along a darker background. This is no easy feat. If this were on the silver screen, I’m sure the entire panel would stay black.
Little things matter most. Carlos M. Mangual excels at italics clearly indicating the emphasis of certain words. Plus, he makes Titus express himself appropriately.
One little allusion of note: Cyborg labels the fake machine Mr. Roboto. For those of you who spent their teenage years in the 80’s (like yours truly) will know the exact source. Either way, the younger ones can cheat by referring to Google or YouTube. Either way, nice nod to the band Styx.
Another allusion: the movie poster variant is a take on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Nerd alert!
Nitpicky Nelly: Aquaman appears on the cover but not the story. Tsk tsk.
I give this book an almost perfect 10. I will say that Gotham City may have 99 problems but Batman and son definitely ain’t one 😉 [If you don’t catch my drift, that’s 9.9 out of 10]
Tags: Batman and Robin, Robin, Son Of Batman