Who's it by?
Batman and Robin #1 is written by Peter J Tomasi and illustrated by Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray.
What's the history?
Batman and Robin is one of the youngest books in DC's Batman line having been launched by Grant Morrison as a follow-up to the Batman R.I.P., Final Crisis, and Battle for the Cowl series.
After Bruce Wayne's apparent demise at the hands of Darkseid, a new Dynamic Duo emerged. Dick Grayson took on the mantel of the bat, and Wayne's son Damian became the new Boy Wonder. The original Batman was eventually reintroduced to the DC Universe during the Return of Bruce Wayne miniseries. He resumed his role as the Caped Crusader alongside his offspring.
Morrison's run on the title concluded with issue #16. Paul Cornell and Scott McDaniel served as the creative team for a three-part story before handing the reigns to Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason.
Unlike many of the 'New 52' titles, Batman and Robin maintains continuity, referencing events that occurred prior to the relaunch, and loosely tying in with Morrison's Batman, inc. The previous creative team of Tomasi and Gleason reprise their roles on the comic.
Nothing may have changed in terms of premise, though Batman and Robin promises to introduce some game-changing themes. The legendary Crime Alley, where Wayne's parents meet their demise, is to be demolished, and Batman vows to stop fixating on their deaths and celebrate their lives instead.
There's father-son friction aplenty as Batman and Robin fight crime in Gotham together. The reckless Damian Wayne doesn't take too kindly to the Dark Knight's rules and regulations, but the pair are reasonably successful in their attempts to thwart a group of crooks who try to steal irradiated fuel from Gotham University.
Meanwhile, a new villain called the Nobody is hatching a plot to undo Bruce Wayne's Batman, inc work by hunting down the other Batmen he recruited and quiet literally erasing them from existence. The Caped Crusader's Russian counterpart doesn't fair well in battle against this arcane foe, to put it lightly.
As we previously mentioned, the comic lays down its intentions to kick off a new era for Batman with the demolition of Crime Alley, and the advent of his new mindset regarding the murder of his parents.
What's the verdict?
For a supposed relaunch title, Batman and Robin #1 isn't a great jumping on point for new readers. Characters from Grant Morrison's Batman, inc are featured, yet we're given little explanation as to who they are. Damian Wayne's Robin is also presented with little backstory. Prior knowledge of his affiliation to the League of Shadows is important to understanding the character, but the assassin group is not mentioned once.
Damian himself is portrayed as the most petulant individual to take on the guise of the Boy Wonder since Chris O'Donnell in Joel Schumacher's reviled Batman & Robin film. He argues with his mentor at every turn, ignores his advice, and gloats about how superior he is to his predecessors.
The character comes across as largely unlikable, but his father-son relationship with Batman is handled well, both in and out of the field of superheroism. It's clear that Peter Tomasi intends this to be the focal point of the series, and it's going to be interesting to see how it plays out.
Tomasi should also be applauded for taking a risk with Batman's character. The Caped Crusader's inner turmoil over his parent's death has long defined the hero, so it's refreshing to see him undergo an epiphany of sorts and begin celebrating their lives. This paves the way for future issues to explore different aspects of the character, particularly his role as a parent.
The dynamic between the lead duo is at its most interesting during the comic's main action sequence. Batman and Robin attempt to tackle a gang of criminals intend of stealing hazardous materials from Gotham University, and Robin's recklessness earns him a tongue lashing from the Dark Knight, whose dual role as both dedicated parent and mentor is a source of internal conflict.
Alfred and Commissioner Gordon are among the supporting cast, but we don't see enough of them to form a strong impression. However, our new villain, the Nobody, is very intriguing. Patrick Gleason's artwork merely teases his appearance and we're given no hint of his motives, but the evidence at hand suggests a force to be reckoned with.
Overall, Batman and Robin shows potential, without being spectacular. Gleason's artwork captures the essence of the characters, and Tomasi lays down some strong dialogue. Newcomers may encounter some accessibility obstacles due to the comic's close ties with previous Batman storylines, so this is one for the long-term readers.
> Buy the digital version of Batman and Robin #1
> Read our review of Hawk and Dove #1
Watch the 'New 52' introduction video from DC Comics below: