I’ve been steering clear of featuring brand new comics, since recapping them takes up more space than it’s worth. But I’m proud to make an exception for this week’s Batman and Robin, an issue of mourning for Damian, Bruce Wayne’s latest teen sidekick.
Damian was a different kind of Robin, however, since he was actually Bruce’s son. Writer Grant Morrison plucked him from narrative backwaters and, in 2006, installed him firmly in DC’s proper continuity. A smarmy little toad for most of his career (pissing off the Teen Titans for sport), Damian also teased fans by being the lethally trained spawn of Talia al Ghul, the daughter of one Batman’s deadliest enemies.
Writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Patrick Gleason do the shortest, angriest Robin immense honor in their Requiem issue. For starters, there are no words. Literally. All we get is Gleason’s brilliant sense of brooding darkness suffusing Wayne Manor and the long Gotham night. Damian’s specter haunts Bruce as he does the many things they once did together: sliding down fire-poles into the Bat Cave, swinging across the city, riding in the Batmobile.
The full page shot of Batman perched atop a lamp post, above the pavement where his parents were shot, is magnificent. The red panels revealing Bruce’s descent into rage, just before plowing the Batmobile through the lamp post, are phenomenal.
Well, I lied. Here are words, some of Damian’s last, in a note Bruce finds in the boy’s locker: “I’m sure you’ll be angry with me for disobeying you again but I don’t care, I will not let you fight Leviathan alone. You need me and I will always be at your side.” Of course, he dies fighting the global cabal of villains, run by his own mother.
Bravo. Best single issue of 2013.