Wednesday, January 29, 2014

SPOILERS: Batman and Robin Annual #2

Pre-Damain's death, Dick spends time with him, telling him a story about when he first became Robin, as Damian was complaining a bit about his father. Issue is, Damian didn't ask for story time with Dick Grayson, and reminds his mentor of one key difference between them, Dick may have been the first, but Damian perfected being Robin (hell yeah, he did.)

So, jump to the present... the pre-Forever Evil present, Bruce finds a hidden compartment in Damian's room which has a box labeled for Dick, so luckily, with Dick in town, Bruce calls him into the mansion and has Dick tell him what he told Damian, curious as to what made Damian plan something  for the long term. So Dick does just that, and tells Bruce the same story he told Damian, Batman and Robin, Week One.

Dick's tenure as Robin didn't start off that great... considering he was fired the very first day. On their first mission out as Batman and Robin, the duo were looking for a gangster named Tusk, but Dick was told very specifically to go unseen, and do nothing but observe... which Dick disobeys the moment he notices one thug Batman missed getting away. Thinking he did good, Dick shows the thug to Bruce, claiming to have found out where their target is, but Bruce has nothing of it, and drives Dick back home for disobedience, firing him in the cave. Sure, Bruce is a bit rash, but he knows what he's doing, and he specifically required 100% obedience before headed out for the night.

The next morning, Dick complains to Alfred, but there's nothing Alfred can do, suggesting that he forget about it, and never speak to Bruce about his PM activities again, all while making a very sarcastic point clear that he couldn't believe someone else thought Bruce was being unreasonable. Sure enough, Bruce is listening from the floor above, something Alfred is very aware of.

That evening, Dick dawns his costume again, and tries to apologize to Bruce, even offering up the info on Tusk he learned, as a sign of good trust, hoping to get "rehired." Yeah, no... Bruce doesn't rehire him, telling him to go back up stairs. But of course the story doesn't end there, because Dick gave Bruce the location of the job that was meant to distract Batman, while Tusk and his men take care of the real job, which Dick goes to intercept.

Things go pretty well for Dick until Tusk himself shows up. Big elephant looking dude, with you guessed it... tusks! Tusk proves to be a little much for an inexperienced Robin, but luckily, Batman shows up, having read Dick's behavior, citing he has a bad poker face. But, Tusk uses the threat of shooting a beaten Dick to momentarily throw Batman off his game, and decides he'll have some fun, and throw them out of a helicopter to their death.

But, by the time they're in the air, Dick has come to, and jumps out the helicopter, only to swing around on the landing gear, to come back on the other side, knocking Tusk into the water below, while taking control of the helicopter. Bruce gets up, and flies them home, willing to possibly reconsider Dick's work status.

Dick finishes up the story having told Damian that from there on out, Tusk kept coming after him, taking his first defeat personally. This went on for a while, until Tusk just didn't show up anymore. So back in the present, Dick opens the box Damian left to find Tusk's other tusk, and a note that said "Got him. Let me know if you need any more of my help taking down your bad guys."

With that, Dick offers a toast to Damian, claiming him to be winner and still champion.


The Good:

Because history was erased, we don't have a lot of Dick Grayson as Robin stories, so it was nice to get that gap filled in a little bit. Then we got some more Damian, getting the last well-intentioned laugh on Dick, which I thought was really enjoyable. 

Art was really good too, especially considering they got Doug Mahnke to draw, who has been working pretty exclusively with Geoff Johns recently, while many other annuals DC seems to give to artists who you'd expect to see on fill in duty here and there. There was apparently a bit of fill in on Pat Gleason's part here, but because he and Mahnke share a pretty similar style, I honestly didn't recognize it at all, not that I would have minded, given he's the main series artist anyways.

The Bad:

Wasn't that into the introduction of some random villain as the antagonist to this story, just makes it sort of feel less... I don't know, meaningful, given I have no attachment to the threat Dick was facing, and like a lot of the New 52 stuff, it's just a villain who's thrown out, with readers being expected to care? That said, probably wouldn't have worked with the ending if it was a known villain, given that we would have had an idea of where that villain would have been throughout the years.

There's also this weird thing with the lettering during Dick's monologue while he's Robin. It's lettered using Nightwing's box style, which I understand is because Dick's telling a story, but the the monologue is in present tense, with Dick as Robin speaking. Only happens for two pages, so it's not really a big deal.

The Bottom Line:

This issue should satisfy Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne fans alike, as we are given a rare (well, now it's rare) glimpse into Dick Grayson's life as Robin, and a couple of good one-lines from the now deceased Damian Wayne. Combine a really solid story with some of the best art we've seen on an annual from DC in a while, and you've got another issue that has no problems standing next to the splendid first issue of this Annual volume.



  1. I'm kind of upset they killed off Tusk (Damian killed him, right?) because he couldve been an interesting secondary villain.