BATMAN & ROBIN ANNUAL #3 Review & Spoilers
“Moonshot” (38 pages)
Story by: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils by: Juan José Ryp
Inks by: Juan José Ryp, Jordi Tarragona, Juan Albarran
Colors by: Sonia Oback
Letters by: Tom Napolitano
Cover by: Adrian Syaf, Guillermo Ortego, Kyle Ritter
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Peter J. Tomasi parts ways with the killer combo that he has spent the last three and a half years chronicling. No tears need to be shed. This is a light-hearted romp through Earth’s only satellite.
Now that he is powerless and back to how he should be, Damian’s thirst for adventure has been anything but quenched. He eyes the JL HQ from his telescope. He craves to be off-world since it would be a real break from the routine. Like any other normal ten-year-old, Damian is up to mischief. However, his is the good kind as he tinkers with the JL teleporter. Cut the boy some slack! He shows real promise and initiative. Despite Alfred’s best efforts to discourage, Damian succeeds and rides off on his cycle with Titus in tow.
Little does Damian know that his father always keeps watch. I sure would!! With hands on hips, the rhetorical question is posed. Damian wants to hang out with his papa. Robin informs Batman that he’s taken Superman’s offer to visit verbatim. Batman tells him otherwise but Robin pays him no mind. After throwing some steaks at Titus, his attention is turned towards an array of monitors. Batman explains they exist to analyze threats from space. One set remains focused on our blue planet whereas the other takes note of ships passing through.
Robin spots an unusual image on one of the cams. When it is magnified, he comments that NASA must have extraordinary means to foot the electric bill that is powering the small spacecraft. Batman observes that is it an original lunar module from The Eagle, one of the first to land on the moon. He is taken aback. Time to investigate!! Moonwalk, baby!
Upon reaching the craft, they are successful in activating a lunar rover. Batman gives Robin a mini-lesson on the accuracy of the moon landing. Apparently, two LMs touched down: one from Apollo 11, the other from Apollo 16. I get a kick out of Damian’s urge to drive. He asks Bats for control of the wheel but is denied.
No need to panic and run with arms flailing in this next scene. It’s no surprise that aliens have commandeered the LM. They are a trio. When you
assume deduce, you realize that they represent the original astronauts. It is doubtful that they even noticed the two trespassers. A launch is activated. B&R race back to the rover to track them. The LM has moved half a mile away. As the dynamic duo approach stealthily, Damian utters the called-for cliché: “Houston…” You know the rest.
A larger ship has been constructed. Most likely it is to return the aliens back to their planet. As the twosome edge closer, Damian muses on his lost powers. He truly misses them. The poor boy is in serious withdrawal. Batman states that their mission is a recon and that no conflict need take place. That all changes when the aliens have targeted the home of humanity. Once again, this is unsurprising. Ready. Set. Fight!! The rocket begins to prop itself up. All the while, fists fly and feet touch faces. As they begin to retreat through a hatch, Batman pushes Robin on to the surface. He opts to remain to abort the E.T.’s mission.
Damian refuses to ditch his dad. Bats succeeds in sabotaging the nav system but is held back by some slimy-looking tentacles. Just like when it seems that his doom is sealed, he breaks free. He alters the course of the splashdown to Hawaii’s (and the world’s) most active volcano: Kilauea. Batman ejects himself from the vessel. With Damian flying the Bat-rocket there’s only one chance to grab him. Unbeknownst to the planet’s population, Mother Earth has been spared any misery once again.
Robin feels exhilarated by this incident. Even a super-hero doesn’t travel to the moon on a regular basis. Father and son bandy: Batman chastises Robin for disobeying an order; Robin makes him verbalize his gratitude. Robin is really enrapt by the lunar orb. He got his thrill-seeking fix. Batman realizes that the time to stand back and appreciate the little things in life is almost nil. As they gaze upon the stars, Robin sees endless possibilities; Batman sees bright, beautiful pearls.
Plenty of praise has already been given to Mr. Tomasi. It’s endless. The light-heartedness is an unorthodox element throughout the latter part of this run but it is quite fitting. There has always been and will always be darkness in Batman’s world. Who’s to say that every so often he can’t deflate a bit and spend quality time with his offspring?? The love Batman and Robin share for each other is disguised through defiance, stubbornness, and machismo. Their respect for each other is not begrudging, it is abundant!! Standing ovation!! Who’s to say if this relationship will ever be written the same way again?
Juan José Ryp’s pencils characterize the two main players distinctly. Batman looks a lot less menacing and Robin’s enthusiasm is extremely apparent even through his domino mask. Mr. Ryp produces two stellar (or should I say lunar?) two-page spreads: one of the module and one of the rocket. To display the Earth in the background in the first and emphasize the rocket’s enormity in the second are just jaw-dropping.
Jordi Tarragona and Juan Albarran give an assist to Juan’s inks. I’m so terrible at determining and still understanding the difference between that and pencils. The two gentlemen flesh out Batman and Robin so well that their body language and actions compliment their personalities.
Sonia Oback gives a lighter tone to Batman’s costume but I find that to be a welcome change. It’s always been understood and implied (since the mid-90’s) that black is his real complexion. The vibrancy in Robin’s primary colours reflects his youthful exuberancy.
Tom Napolitano deserves an award for the alien goobledygook. I tried to decipher the dialogue for a bit but gave up. I should consult Rosetta Stone 😉
All in all, it is best to end it all on a high note (correction: atmospheric/orbital/spatial). I see this as a call back to those stories from the 1950’s when space sagas were the standard fare in the Batman title. I sure hope you get some literary prizes Mr. Tomasi, because you’re deserving of them.
Bat-Wisdom — Robin has learned much from his mentor:
• “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” — I especially love this contrapuntal turnaround!
• “Forewarned is forearmed.” — Knowledge is the best weapon each and every time.
I’m not a fan per se, but even I appreciate the factoids presented regarding the NASA shuttles and Kilauea.
I just had an epiphany!! A massive bat-shaped crater should be carved on the moon’s surface. That would definitely deter anti-Terran trespassers! Or, create a Bat-signal powerful enough to shine on Lady Luna. Process that.
I’ve said goodbye to this title a total of three times. For an atypical superhero story with loads of personal interaction, I give this book an Apollo 8 out of the first ten rockets.
Tags: Batman, Batman and Robin, DC Comics, Robin