Batman vs. Robin #1 – Mark Waid, Writer; Mahmud Asrar, Artist; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: The tension between Batman and Damian Wayne has been brewing for a long time, with things boiling over after the death of Alfred Pennyworth. Damian seemed to be turning over a new leaf with his storyarc in his just-concluded solo title—but he also encountered some dark forces, including his great-grandmother Mother Soul and the remnants of the Devil Nezha. Those elements have come together in this event comic, spinning out of both Robin and the events in Batman/Superman: World’s Finest. It’s easily the highest-profile comic Waid has done since his return to DC—and if this first issue is any indication, he might be the best event comic writer DC has at the moment.
DC has not tried to keep the secret that this comic contains the return of Alfred Pennyworth, but the way it’s done is brilliant. Alfred simply shows up, having been resurrected by some unseen force. The last thing he remembers is his death at Bane’s hands, and both he and Bruce are equally confused and distressed by this. But they don’t have time to sort things out, because they’re soon ambushed by a clearly mad Damian in the Bat-cave—now powered up with magic, backed up by two powerful and possibly possessed allies in the form of JSAer Jakeem Thunder and Vertigo refugee Tim Hunter. And it’s clear that whatever’s affected Damian’s mind, it’s filled him with an intense and irrational hatred for Bruce.
We’ve seen Damian and Bruce at each other’s throats for a while, but nothing like this. Whether this is Damian making a heel turn or something else, it’s clear that this is a level of hatred we’ve never seen—he wants to hurt Bruce, any way he can. And it goes far beyond personal attacks, because this is a magical assault on the DCU with some truly shocking visuals. The end of the issue brings in some major elements from Vertigo lore, making this rather perfectly timed for release. But amid the fast-paced story, this has some of the best Batman characterization I’ve seen in a long time, and an absolutely perfect Alfred. Waid is a master of the DCU, same as he ever was, and I’m expecting this to be an event mini to remember.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.