Robin: Son of Batman #2 written and drawn by Patrick Gleason, inks by Mick Gray, color by John Kalisz continues Damian’s quest for forgiveness for his hidden year of murder and mayhem under the Al Ghuls.
We start the issue with flashbacks to Damian’s training (sporting a more dramatic undercut, looking fashionable little dude) with Talia and the start of his “Year of Blood” and the history of his first hit; stealing a fabled sword from a village in South America and beheading the animated stone guardian that guarded it, thus dooming the area to be swarmed with cartel. His first act of retribution is returning that stone guardian head to its body, and once he does the big stone guy wakes up and it’s up to Damian and surprise, Nobody II to not only deal with stone guy, but also to eliminate the cartel that had moved in and taken over. It’s a wild ride.
This books is pretty much everything I could ask for. It’s fun, with some (major) weight behind it, elements of magic and sci-fi on top of Damian wanting to do good, plus the colorist has firmly committed to a darker skin tone for him, making it much clearer that he’s not entirely white. Damian is a complex and interesting character with a lot, a lot, of blood on his hands which he is both cavalier about and yet also extremely guilty for. And he’s not even Bar-Mitzvah age yet (if you consider Bruce to be half Jewish through his mom hey Dami’s quarter Jewish!).
Talia in this states that he’s nine years old now so I’m thinking there might be a retcons in action doing away with Damian being artificially aged or rapidly aged and instead grew up in a much slower natural manner (though he was a test-tube baby) aligned to his actual age. This I’d appreciate loads if it’s indeed what they’re doing here.
Nobody II, Mya Ducard becoming a reluctant ally so quickly feels a bit premature, I would have liked perhaps a few more issues of her following before “teaming up”, but her being a lot less suave and stealthy that we thought is pretty endearing, as was her saving the kid. Her “I’ll wait till you’re finished with all this and then I’ll kill you” attitude, which matches Damian’s philosophies quite well, will probably fade and she’ll not want to kill him. At best we’ll get a great new friend and ally and at worst Damian’s own personal Catwoman.
Damian teaming up with a slightly older girl brings to mind his humanizing Batgirl/Robin relationship with Stephanie Brown while she was Batgirl which was wiped away with the reboot. The relationship worked really well and brought a lot of growth to Damian, it was a shame to see it go with the relaunch. Judging by her reaction to Damian sort of slut-shaming her catsuit (in terms of it revealing her gender easily) the dynamic here with Mya will be similar to what he had with Steph (btw when are we going to see Carrie Kelly again? What happened with her?).
It is sad though, this feels like it could be the perfect book for Damian and Cass Cain. Cass could have been easily introduced in this book, but now that we know she’ll be a lead in Batman & Robin Eternal we’ll have to wait. I like Damian building his own cast and adding more fringe members to the Batfamily which is, ironically enough, exploding to the brim since the reboot.
As much as I enjoy Patrick Gleason doing his trippy action sequences and being used to near incoherence at times during Green Lantern Corps this issue, while brilliantly done, felt slightly more chaotic than it’s been in a while so it took some getting used to. Some cracks in Gleason’s ability as a writer are showing, which probably keeps it from a perfect score, but there’s nothing too offensive.
I like the book. It’s atmospheric, with gorgeous art and colors, fine peppering of humor to keep it level, and a new supporting female character of color that looks like will be sticking around for a while. I’m interesting to see where all of Damian’s missions will take them. It’s so nice to have Robin book again.