Monday, May 26, 2014

[New 52] Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi issue #4

The daily installment reviews that I provide for Tomasi/Gleason's Batman and Robin must seem like tedious work to the uninterested observer, but I think this is the most fun I had in weeks! If it's not official by now, I should state for the record again that Batman is very important to me because he is my childhood hero, and more often than not, comic books that depict him in ways that really speak to me deeply are always a welcome treat. So far, Tomasi's writings for the dynamics between Batman and the fourth Robin who is also his estranged son Damian have been highly engrossing for me in a personal level. This issue showcases why.

Here in Matter of Trust is where things have finally progressed. NoBody abducted father and son last issue and is now imparting an fittingly antagonistic soliloquy pertaining to Batman's moral code: his refusal to kill the psychopaths and murderers he had encountered throughout his crime-fighting career. NoBody blames Batman for this weakness, accusing him of adhering to a moral standard that is not viable when you put it in a more realistic perspective. While locked in this philosophical discussion, NoBody proceeds to systematically beat up Batman in front of Damian whose dormant feelings for his father finally begin to reach the surface. This is probably the first time Damian shows that he feared for his father's life at that moment and this might be NoBody's other agenda. While reading this, I definitely get the sense that NoBody sees something in Damian that he could use against Batman, and I believe it as well.

Batman and Robin do manage to make their escape afterwards and Gleason was able to provide us a brief yet still thrilling sequence of explosions across the next pages. The real conflict has only began, however, when Bruce and Damian get to argue over the former's reluctance to trust his son with pertinent information and the latter's bullheadedness and lack of faith in his father's choices. I completely understand the validity in both sides. Bruce wanted to teach his son good values and follow his example but fails to recognize that Damian has to make these choices independently; and that the only way for him to embrace Bruce as his father is if Bruce displays genuine affection for the boy. Damian, on the other hand, has a misguided hero-worship for his father whom he had spent a decade of his life fantasizing so he finds it almost unthinkable to reconcile that Bruce is a man who makes mistakes and may occasionally take his feelings for granted.

It's a rather maddening push-and-pull dynamic, with both parties insisting one has more superior claims and complaints over the other. Alfred listens to this dialogue in silence and it was only when Damian walks out of the Batcave that the butler shares his insights:

The last scene was truly heartbreaking for me. Damian stands over his grandparents' grave and airs out his grievances. He catches a firefly, holds it between his fingers and crushes the light in its tail. He has never looked so young and lost the way he did at that moment and it was in this vulnerable state that NoBody appears at an opportune time and promises Damian the honesty and freedom that his father is never able to give him so far. Damian didn't have to say anything. He merely crushed what was left of the firefly earlier and that already speaks volumes to his choice.

I am definitely excited to see what happens now. Bruce's insistence to keep his son at arm's length in blind belief it will guarantee his safety and teach him restraint and discipline will now completely backfire because Damian is also his mother's son, and there is more darkness to him than neither Bruce or us readers would care to admit. And he's going to show us just how deep that abyss goes...


I plan to save the perfect rating for now. I'm giving props for all those great dialogue exchanges between Batman and NoBody, Bruce and Damian, Bruce and Alfred and Damian and NoBody

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