Robin: Son of Batman #1-6
Before he was Robin, Batman’s son Damian Wayne was raised by his mother, Talia al Ghul, to lead the vicious League of Assassins. In these stories from issues #1-6 of his new solo series, the son of Batman has freed himself from that destiny and is about to embark on a globe-spanning quest to atone for the horrible acts he committed during the most brutal portion of his old life, The Year of Blood!
Damian Wayne’s FIRST ongoing series starts here, with the Year of Blood storyline in Robin: Son of Batman #1-6, a series that takes a deep dive into both his traumatic upbringing as well as his newfound pursuit of self-improvement for a unique coming of age story that breaks through the emotional walls of Damian and exposes a heartfelt character with unlimited potential.
Robin: Son of Batman kicks off with a concept that brings a stark contrast to the forefront by setting Damian’s “Year of Blood” he fought through in his past up against his new “Year of Atonement” now as Robin. It’s not a simple rehashing of his origins as an al Ghul and how he finds himself next to Batman, but it captures those themes with a much more personal tale. In his training as a child, he was forced to brutally slaughter Guardian after Guardian in the process of his training known as the Year of Blood. With Talia and R’as spurring him on, he essentially sets off on a bloody rampage across the world to bring the heads of these Guardians. However, here is one who he just couldn’t bring himself to kill, Goliath.
Chronologically, the meeting with Goliath is an emotional turning point for Damian. After he finds himself in the Robin role and Batman has gone missing, presumed dead, he sets out to atone for the crimes he committed in his training now as Robin, and accompanied by the gigantic Guardian dragon-bat named Goliath. The two have a great dynamic that comes from a place of unified suffering and it’s felt almost immediately. Damian as Robin toys with the purpose of being a “sidekick” often, and there is an interesting aspect that arises with the inclusion of this type of relationship with Robin and Goliath which frames the quest for atonement with a constant reminder of what happened. It gets right to the heart of what makes Damian so special. His conflicted past and the new path that lies before him as Robin creates a clear view of the internal struggles that drive this character forward.
The quest for atonement isn’t just Damian and Goliath retracing steps seeking redemption, however, There is also a side plot involving the original Nobody’s daughter Maya who is desperately searching for revenge, or any sort of vindication for the devastation that Damian brought into her life. It’s good because it doesn’t intrude on the main plot too much, instead, it merges rather effortlessly into it to tell a seamless story. Maya’s vision of Nobody adds additional layers of emotional depth that once more give some insight into the impacts that Damian has already had at such an early age. Maya isn’t the only extra character we see who adds heart to the story either, as Talia herself eventually shows up, and while she may be on her own path, it creates a new source of conflict for everyone involved especially Damian.
Patrick Gleason takes on both writing and illustrating duties in Robin: Son of Batman #1-6, and while there are some noticeable differences in execution between the two tasks, it does reach a level of quality that is difficult to nail consistently. The visuals are spectacular, and honestly make the series enjoyable for multiple readings. It’s a definitive vision of Damian as Robin that captures the complexities of the character in everything from the general overarching narrative to the smallest details like expression and behaviors. John Kalisz’s colors bring life to the series in a way that you don’t see often at DC or anywhere else. It’s vivid, but cast in shadows and helps to distinguish the character in his first solo ongoing series. Tom Napolitano had a particularly difficult job in this series due to the nature of the scripting from Gleason. There are pages with minimal to no dialogue interrupted by a page filled full with walls of text. While Napolitano does make some smart decisions with this, the pacing is ultimately hindered and creates a reading experience that feels choppy and unable to find its footing with an enjoyable flow.
Confronting the worst of your past and searching for personal growth is something that will always hold weight in storytelling, but it becomes something else entirely when we insert Damian Wayne into the fold. On his own, with no support from Batman, we are able to see Damian come to terms with himself, his role as Robin and what it means going forward. Goliath stole my heart with every panel and although he did get a very happy ending, I seriously hope he is able to return to Damian’s story eventually. The story ends leading into the expansive Robin War story, so it wraps up nicely with Goliath on the island, Maya searching for her Mother and Damian returning to Gotham, but it’s the type of journey that will stick with you long after reading.
Robin: Son of Batman is full of monsters, action-packed sequences with brilliant visuals and features an instant-classic depiction of the son of Bruce Wayne, but most importantly, it firmly realizes Damian Wayne as an individual character with incredible potential for the role of Robin and the greater DC Universe. Robin: Son of Batman is required reading for any fan of Damian, and for those seeking for insight into his enduring popularity as Robin, look no further.
If all of this isn’t enough to convince you to read this series, I’ll leave with just a single panel featuring…BABY GOLIATH <3
Damian Wayne's FIRST ongoing series starts here in Robin: Son of Batman #1-6 (Gleason, Gray, Kalisz, Napolitano), a series that takes a deep dive into both his traumatic upbringing as well as his newfound pursuit of self-improvement for a unique coming of age story that breaks through the emotional walls of Damian and exposes a heartfelt character with unlimited potential.
Robin: Son of Batman (2015) #1-6: This “R” Stands for Redemption
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
Art - 9.5/109.5/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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