Batman and Robin Annual #1
Bruce Wayne goes on a worldwide adventure investigating clues left behind by Damian--but what are they all leading to? Meanwhile, the younger Wayne makes sure Gotham City isn't without its protector--so he takes on the mantle of the Bat!
In the first annual during the Batman and Robin run from Tomasi and company, we find Bruce on a scavenger hunt that breaks down all of the walls of the “dark harbinger of justice” to find his emotional core while Damian lives his best life wearing the cape and cowl to patrol Gotham alone. It’s the type of comic that pulls you in with heartfelt relatability and holds on until the very last panel, making it impossible to not put the book down with a smile.
Damian is a character that many struggle to enjoy as much as some of the other Robins particularly due to his abrasive attitude. However, in Batman and Robin Annual #1 we see that this isn’t the only side of his character. There is a caring and supportive side to Damian that is hidden amidst layers of aggression, and with the right story, you can bring that pure thoughtfulness out to wonderful success. This comic is a great example of that concept in action. Damian Wayne is a preteen kid, he’s going to be up to shenanigans, but he is also not just any kid. As the son of Bruce Wayne, he stands out among the other Robins for more than just his badass fighting abilities. He’s in tune with Bruce in a way that the others just aren’t, and in this issue, we find the Father and Son duo exploring their lineage to really emphasize this connection.
Damian may have sent Bruce on a wild hunt for family memories just so he could take out some baddies all by himself in Gotham, but he didn’t do it in a careless way. Instead, he poured himself into research to discover incredible pieces of Bruce’s past like the painting from his Mother. Bruce’s stoic attitude may have prevented tears, but not from this reader. I was tearing up very early in this comic and it just spiraled from there. The scavenger hunt is essentially a farce, and both Damian and Bruce are aware of this but play along anyways. This is when I really noticed the similarities between the two and the creative team plays to those remarkably well. The result is a contrast not of personality, but simply of age. It makes for a comic with real depth outside of the typical superhero affair.
It takes stories like this to really shed some light on Damian as a character and what he brings to the Batfamily. I’ve always particularly enjoyed him as a character because of what he brings out in Batman, and this annual essentially relies on that dynamic for it’s most enjoyable moments. As a reader, you aren’t necessarily concerned with exactly who the baddies are that Damian is going up against, but you do care for the reaction that Bruce will have when things finally wind down. It’s a cat and mouse game that may not be consequential in the larger scheme of things, but it’s a powerful moment in their relationship that truly helps to establish trust between the two. If this isn’t the perfect example of a Wayne-style scavenger hunt, I’m not sure what else is.
The visuals are just as well executed as the writing in Batman and Robin Annual #1 as well. Syaf’s pencils are exciting when the story demands and packed full of heart even on small, dialogue filled panels. It’s a story that travels all across the world while still staying rooted in the Gotham aesthetic for Damian, balancing many different environments and new characters with surprising cohesion. While some of the lettering choices can be a bit confusing due to the nature of the issue and some of the layout decisions, it’s not really enough to detract from enjoying the story at hand.
Ultimately, Batman and Robin Annual #1 is a must read for any fan of the Father and Son Batman and Robin team. Tomasi utilizes a strong characterization to find a worthwhile story in a trust exercise between the two, and the artistic team backs that up with plenty of spectacular visuals. It’s not perfect, but for an annual, it has a clear vision and message, and the result is a book that is undoubtedly a great experience. For those who may still be looking for the heart behind Damian Wayne as Robin, this is a great place to start!
Batman and Robin Annual #1 is the type of comic that pulls you in with heartfelt relatability and holds on until the very last panel, making it impossible to not put the book down with a smile. For those who may still be looking for the heart behind Damian Wayne as Robin, this is a great place to start!
Batman and Robin Annual #1 (2013): You Never Fail to Make an Impression
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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