Tuesday, June 3, 2014

[New 52] Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi issue #10

I ate up this issue like the devoted Damian Wayne fangirl that I am. Weirdly enough, I didn't start this way at all. My Robin has always been Dick Grayson, who has long graduated from the sidekick program and is now better known as Nightwing. But when Tomasi took the mantle from Morrison and started writing Damian Wayne for New 52's Batman and Robin, I forgot about Dick for a while and started loving the fuck out of this new Robin, this efficiently trained half-al Ghul and half-Wayne prodigy whose first eight issues collected in the volume Born to Kill is unarguably one of my top favorite DC titles that ever came out from New 52.

This issue would have gotten a perfect rating for me because look at that goddamn cover! It's boldly entitled WAR OF THE ROBINS and I knew that gold stuff like this is exactly what I wanted to read for the rest of my life and I have yet to even turn the first page. When I did get into the story, I was annoyed endlessly by the subplot squished in the middle of my Robins bantering and flirting. The issue was actually called Terminus: Scar of the Bat but no one fucking cares. Some loser criminal assholes got their feelings hurt when Batman punished them, so they all gathered together to take their vengeance, and they are apparently led by some new B-rated villain called Terminus. And I don't fucking care.

So instead let's focus on the best parts of this issue. Back in the Wayne Manor, Bruce decides to get the family portrait painted with Dick, Alfred, Damian and even Tim Drake (if anyone can recall, this is the Robin who followed Jason Todd; who is now professionally known as Red Robin and leader of the Teen Titans). Tim and Damian start bickering like two brothers who are on some level very much insecure about the other. Dick just sits there and watches with amusement and disinterest, like the eldest brother that he is, and who would rather do something else than to watch the younger ones snark each other off. I've always imagined what it would be like if Damian gets together with the previous Robins and I was rewarded with this story.

And just when you thought Damian can't get any more cocky, he then invites all the Robins one night (with Jason Todd/Red Hood finally making an appearance) and outright makes a formal challenge to prove who is the best Robin there ever is. Yes, this sounds corny but Damian is dead serious, apparently. I really loved that panel where you see his determined face, front and center, whilst in the background, the variation of baffled, bored and exasperated are expressed in the faces of Dick, Tim and Jason respectively. I would also like to point out that Damian claimed that after he defeats them, he will take a trinket or souvenir from them. That's just creepy and hilarious!

This behavior may seem unusual in general, but let's not forget that Damian is brought up from royalty (al Ghul league of assassins) and is the only son and heir of Bruce Wayne/Batman himself so of course he feels entitled. He is the current Robin who has yet to establish his legacy and he did feel like he is being judged and criticized--most especially by Tim.

This is why Tim Drake was the first one to fight with him later in the pages. They also had a fascinating exchange where Damian accuses him of hypocrisy; that Tim likes to take the high horse and sees Damian as a heartless fiend but both of them know that Tim would have done the same things that Damian had if he was in the same situation (that is, contemplate about killing someone out of rage or necessity, if not really going through with it). Damian was also quick to call off Tim's bullshit on trying to measure Damian with his own moral standards and that just pisses Damian the fuck off because he is his own Robin and he is his father's son. And Tim needs to find a way to accept that.

I'm not sure what Damian wants to prove to every one of the Robins but I get the sense that it's not really about who is the best or most suited for the job description of Batman's right hand. I think he wishes to connect with them on an intimate level as well, and that he does have some respect for what they have accomplished when they donned the yellow cape; and this may be his passive-aggressive way of asking for them to give him a chance to prove that he could also do it, if not better.

This issue should have had the cover title instead of the Terminus thing (which I really don't even want to discuss because it's that lame). I definitely want the focus of the next issues to be on Damian and his confrontations with the former Robins, and what Bruce would have said about it if he found out.


* The best parts are the Robins for this issue while the Terminus storyline just leaves me cold.

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