Batman & Robin is a textbook case of the dangers inherent in telling a decompressed comics story. The first issue read to me as a wretched Goddamned mishmash of elements from Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies and the old 60s TV show: big, silly action – including riding Batpoles, and not in that good superhero porno parody way – combined with the introduction of some darker elements, like a new villain who dissolves his enemies in acid. It was a frustrating experience in cognitive dissonance, like watching Cesar Romero tie Adam West to a giant roman candle and then chop Burt Ward’s foot off with a rusty machete.
The first issue was so dissatisfying that I was prepared to drop the book from my pulls, except I didn’t want to risk accidentally losing Scott Snyder’s Batman by accident. And I am glad that I didn’t, because the subsequent three issues, which tie up the opening story arc, have proven that Batman & Robin deserves to stand with Snyder’s Batman and Tony Daniel’s Detective Comics as some of the most rock-solid, entertaining Batman comics in years. Sometimes I’m glad to be wrong.
Let’s get some of the prejudicial facts out of the way up front: I have never particularly liked Damian Wayne. Since his introduction he has often been written as a bitchy little brat, to the point where Amanda has sometimes gotten the both of us laughing by reading Damian’s dialogue in the voice of Stewie from Family Guy. Try it yourself, it’s fun: “Now look here, Pennyworth…”