Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi Annual #2

It has taken me a while to read and review the second Annual issue for Tomasi's Batman and Robin because I honestly wanted to save something from the line-up before the upcoming release of Robin Rises later this month. I'm fucking excited because Damian Wayne's sudden demise had hit me like a load of bricks fell on my ovaries and turned them into mush. That's how devastated I was. That week is fast-approaching so I finally decided that yes, now is the ripe time to read this, and I ready myself for any feelings of sadness and nostalgia.

With Damian's death, I wondered how this annual special will play out and I was so goddamn pleased that it's a Dick Grayson-centered issue. Dick, as you may know (and if you don't, you suck) is the very first Boy Wonder. Since the New 52 reboot, most of the DC heroes are five years younger than they were in the past continuity, and many of their origin stories have been tweaked, if not outright changed. Dick's first week as Batman's sidekick is explored for this issue. First, we get that terribly hurtful flashback scene with a costumed Dick and Damian on top of a skyscraper, just chilling out after a mission, I presume, and Dick gives Damian advice on how to deal best and work well with Batman. 

The cocky, charming daredevil that he is, Damian dismisses Dick's brotherly concern lightheartedly, believing himself to be the best Robin there is (which I agree with, okay? Dick will always be the first Robin but Damian said it best with this panel):

Look at that cheeky bastard. Look at just how amazingly confident he is about his role in Batman's life as both his partner in crime-fighting and as his son. SO WHY DID YOU HAVE TO KILL HIM THE WAY YOU FUCKING DID, MR. GRANT MORRISON???!!! *long pause* So, okay. I'm over it. I swear to god. I just get so riled up whenever we get scenes with Damian post-death like this which tends to bring up so many feelings from me. But I digress.

What I loved about this issue is that Dick gets the spotlight which is only fitting, seeing as he is the longest and arguably most loved Robin of all time. I also enjoyed reading about his first week on the job; how impulsive he was in a typical teenager fashion to prove himself a worthy sidekick to a generally unimpressed and stern Batman. As some of you may know, I just finished reading Scott Snyder's The Black Mirror about two weeks ago and in that continuity, Bruce Wayne was dead so Dick took up the mantle of Batman and he was so damn engrossing in that role. While reading this issue, I sort of got that vibe again from him as Robin; his flighty, adventurous spirit coupled with his graceful acrobatic movements as he fights the bad guys; his overall fearless acceptance of the dangerous situations he had to put himself in when with Batman--everything I loved the most about Dick Grayson just shines through in these pages which also made me understand why he and Damian got along the way they did (in the old continuity where Dick was Batman, he also had Damian as Robin so these two have had a great working relationship and chemistry from the get-go since). They may not have been related by blood but Dick is Damian's brother through and through, an older counterpart who is just as fierce and as compatible as Batman's loyal right-hand.

I no longer ached the way I did when I used to read the past issue of B&R after Damian's demise, particularly on that story arc about Batman/Bruce's five stages of grief. Thanks to this annual special, I felt like a huge weight from my shoulders has been lifted. I have moved on from losing Damian. By the end of this story, we could see that Bruce and Dick (along with Alfred) have also embraced that loss, and all they can do now to preserve the memory of their fallen brother-in-arms is to acknowledge all the qualities that made Damian Wayne an unparalleled Robin of his own making, and live by them. I applaud Tomasi for writing yet another personal story that truly made me feel like I am part of this family. I have been through their pain, anger and grief--and have risen above those awful things the same way they did.

So raise your glass to Damian Wayne. My favorite Robin; a very feisty, overachieving and self-assured Boy Wonder. Son of the Dark Knight; Brother to Dick, Jason, Barbara and Tim; and a Hero to all.


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