Saturday, 26 March 2016

Robin, Son of Batman, Volume 1: Year of Blood Review (Patrick Gleason, Mick Grey)

Damian Wayne returned to the DC Universe in Batman & Robin, Volume 7: Robin Rises after that big brouhaha about his recent “death”. Really, DC - you couldn’t wait longer before bringing him back? I’m a Damian fan too but it kinda undermines the impact of Grant Morrison’s Batman finale - which turns out to be, inadvertently or not, actually the theme of this book.

Before Damian met Batman he was trained in the League of Assassins by his crazy ma, Talia Al’Ghul, to be an evil, badass sum’bitch. She made him undergo a trial called the Year of Blood where he did terrible things. Now that he’s rehabilitated and become “good”, he’s going back and undoing all the bad he did in the Year of Blood - a Year of Atonement, basically. 

Batman and Robin artist Patrick Gleason writes as well as draws this series and, like so many artists who turn their hands to the additional role, proves he isn’t much of a writer. Damian has gone from being an exciting, unpredictable and nuanced character who is capable of both good and evil actions, to a bland, standard hero character. Gone is his edge, replaced with warmth and fuzziness. He’s become boring - not a great continuation of his character. 

The Abominations from Batman Incorporated have gone from being horrific creations to affable dimwits living in peace on Ra’s island and even psychotic Talia (yup, she’s back too!) is revised as a caring mother. Gleason is a really poor successor to Grant Morrison. 

Remember that totally forgettable villain from his and Peter Tomasi’s Batman and Robin run, Nobody? No? Well he had a daughter and she’s called Nobody too! She tags along because I guess she’s another former villain who wants to be good and atone for stuff? Shame she’s as dull as her dad. That weird creature on the cover is Goliath, a bat dragon, because… Damian likes collecting pets? Bat Cow had more personality. 

The book is mostly dull fighting between Damian/Goliath/Nobody and whichever monster/challenge is next on Damian’s list. There’s never any tension as you know Damian will always accomplish what he’s set out to do and, surprise, surprise, he does. 

As well as an overall bad story, Gleason too often crams the pages with way too many dialogue bubbles most of which contain forgettable writing. But he is a talented artist and the book does contain some great artwork, so there’s that at least. 

I wouldn’t recommend Year of Blood even to Damian Wayne fans - Patrick Gleason’s weak version of the character is light years away from the kid that captured so many readers’ hearts during Morrison’s epic run.

Robin, Son of Batman, Volume 1: Year of Blood

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