Look up in the sky, it’s a bird (well…), it’s a plane, it’s Damian Wayne in Batman & Robin #38 by Peter Tomasi, art by Patrick Gleason, inker Mick Gray, colors by John Kalisz and lettering by Carlos M. Mangual. Damian Wayne has superpowers akin to a Kryptonian; if only Batman would let him use them.
Damian is back and has superpowers, which is perhaps not the first but is definitely a new twist on Robin. Damian being brought back has fully cemented his current status as Robin the way Tim Drake formerly had the mantle on lock-down and here’s hoping this guy sticks around.
Damian is bulletproof, can fly at relative super speed, and can swim nearly two miles underwater without aid or protection. A miniature superman in a well trained snarky former assassin tween. Bruce is (as always) being rather controlling, limiting Damian from doing much at all while Damian shows his bulletproof nature off and wallops a bad guy between two cars much like the Flintstones’ Bam Bam. These powers are unusual and with them come a whole new set of problems. Alfred, even after Damian smashes through his bedroom floor after a bad dream, has a more proactive approach to Damian’s current plight and suggests giving him some space. Damian flies to his birthplace and the island where Talia created all of his clones. He destroys the lab and then goes down to Atlantis where is mishapen clones were being kept by Arthur (in stasis). He asks for them back and then gives them the island in a rather touching moment.
As always the consistent writing and art team never disappoints. This story they have going is just great and is still tying up threads from INC and prior. Damian has been having some pretty horrible feelings of survivors (in a way) guilt and that’s been manifesting as some rather terrible nightmares. It also sort of reads as a puberty metaphor too. Tomasi can tell great stories and this is one of them; it continues his trend to show Damian as a highly sensitive and thoughtful kid, heartbreakingly so. Batman and Robin are a true pair and as father and son their relationship is pretty endearing.
I love the art. This issue wasn’t as spacey and crazy, where Gleason truly shines but it’s atmospheric, dynamic and sensitive. I love Gleason’s doe eyed (talk about eyelashes) snub nosed Damian, perhaps the only artist who successfully draws Damian correctly favoring his father but also resembling mixed race, which he is.
Tomasi is writing a very nice story here and the nightmares Damian has are concerning. There has to be a catch to his powers and I’m both dreading and excited to see where it’s going.
We didn’t really see any small party for Damian with the rest of the family did we? We didn’t see his reaction to Dick, his partner and one of his best friends, presumably being dead, unless Bruce told him otherwise. This book being about Batman and Robin is of course going to hyperfocus but it often feels divorced from the rest of the line which both helps and hinders it and can feel a bit sparse. A cameo or two would have been nice and clarifications on whether he knows where Dick is seems important to me. Otherwise this is pretty great sensitive storytelling for a great sensitive little bugger of a character
I’m scared what the “twist” will be with him having powers, there’s gotta be one coming, but this is a great comic, it’s all very solid and I’m glad we have Damian back. Tt, not like we missed him much or anything.