on 12 July 2012
Apart from Scott Snyder's "Batman" (Court of Owls) and Geoff Johns "Green Lantern" (Sinestro), this is probably my favourite story.
A quick summary for those who aren't familiar with current continuity: Bruce Wayne has a son named Damian, his mother - being Talia Al Ghul, current leader of the League of Assassins - raised and trained him to be a cold-blooded and ruthless assassin. After a series of events, Bruce Wayne got shot back in time and eventually came back. During that time, Damian became Robin and worked alongside Dick Grayson (the first Robin and second Batman). Now that Bruce is back, he has started a new faction of Wayne Industries known as "Batman Inc." where he personally funds Batman and aims to have a Batman for every nation...
...so now we begin. "Batman and Robin - Born to Kill" is simply brilliant. The plot involves a ghost from Bruce's past coming back to terrorise him in the murderous form of "Nobody". "Nobody" also attempts to influence Damian into abandoning his role as Robin and embracing the slaughter. During it all we explore the wonderfully dysfunctional father/son relationship between the two, and from that there are some oddly touching moments.
So there you have it. A new, murderous villain. Exploration of Batman's past. Plenty of father/son moments. Alfred acting as a father to both Bruce and Damian. And lots of action.
All in all, alongside the "Court of Owls" storyline, you should definitely give this a read. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
on 10 April 2015
I've never been a massive Robin fan and have not actively sort out books that bring him in to focus, however, ever since Damian turned up I have been really intrigued by the dynamic of father and son. Yes this book has great artwork, a great script and a fantastic new villain, but is the emotional journey that really holds its own. Watching Batman struggle and fail is such a rare thing that to see him unable to reach Damian who is in such turmoil is amazingly refreshing.
Ultimately this is a story about a parent who is desperate to do their best for their child, and a child who is unsure and confused as he is growing up and circumstances are changing. It is possible, considering I was raised by a single dad and have recently just become a dad, that this is one of the most relatable books I have read. Not since Spider-Man have we seen such a relatable and tortured teen desperately trying to find their way.
This could shape up to be a magnificent series.
on 22 August 2012
In this book Bruce Wayne is the Batman of Gotham with his son Damien as Robin; Dick Grayson has gone back to being Nightwing, and there's no mention of Batman Inc. The book explores Bruce and Damien's complex relationship as Bruce struggles to be a father to a son who's had a very unusual upbringing, and Damien fights conflicting ideologies: the conditioning of the Al'Ghul's bloodiness or the Dark Knight's code of honour.
Though there is the obligatory villain to defeat (a guy with a robot spider mask called NoBody), the book's focus on Bruce and Damien's relationship is what makes this book the success it is. Bruce is learning (with the patient hand of Alfred) to be supportive and encouraging to his son while doing what he can to protect him from a hostile world of villains who would exploit Damien's closeness to Bruce to destroy Batman.
Peter Tomasi writes some excellent scenes that subtly show the dark depths to which Damien's mind has been taken that really underlines the horror of his reality. I'm thinking especially of what Damien's been up to in his room when Bruce hasn't been paying attention.
The scenes between Bruce, Alfred and Damien (and a new addition to the Wayne family) out of costume were the best though. Ever since Grant Morrison included Damien into continuity there's been a distinct lack of ordinary family moments between Bruce and Damien which is addressed here and we see a father and son doing something mundane - but necessary - like playing in a back yard. If Bruce is ever going to undo the damage of Talia's training he needs to ground Damien, strengthen their relationship, and show him why they fight for Gotham and its citizens. Plus throwing in some everyday scenes heightens the drama when the cowl comes on.
"Born to Kill" is an excellent start to this new series that has enormous potential to bring heart and soul to Batman that's been lacking amidst all the upheavals of the last couple of years. It's well written, well drawn, and an all-round brilliant book. Batman fans won't be disappointed.
on 7 October 2015
After the readers of various New 52 arcs found themselves in the post Batman Incorporated mess, this series showed definite potential of reviving the classic saga-s, with a fresh father-son duo. I was especially enamored by the dialogues and action of the new Robin. The stories are also quite good. Alas, as we all know now, it all came to grief later. But let's enjoy the sunshine (er, night I mean) as long as it lasts.
This is possibly the most narrowly focused of DC's New 52 collected editions (of those that I've read which is well over half those released), with a single story spanning the 8 issues collected here. The question raised is this: Is Damien Wayne more influenced by his upbringing to be an assassin or by his new father who refuses to kill under any circumstances?
For those of you unfamiliar with the background, Damien is the fourth Robin, son of Bruce Wayne following a liaison with Talia al Gul daughter of R'as al Gul leader of the League of Assassins, who has been trained from the age of 3 till 10 to be a brutal killer. Bruce/Batman is not only trying to raise a son he'd never met but perhaps more importantly turn him away from the Dark Side (sorry).
In this graphic novel (and given its length and focus it is a graphic novel and not a collection of comics), right up front is the relationship between the two characters. It starts in one place and ends up in another. There are effectively only three characters in the story (discounting Alfred and bit-players), the other being an old enemy of Batman's (whom we've never met before but we do get flashbacks from Bruce's past) who wants Robin to become a vigilante killer like himself and who also may be Batman's equal in fighting skill.
The art, while quite effective, is a little too smooth and rounded. I find Batman works better with a more rough-edged approach.
I'm being generous with the rating by half a star but this is still another more than solid addition to DC's New 52 continuity revamp.
on 2 August 2014
Wasn't sure if I was going to like this as I never really liked Damian Wayne as a character. But this is the New 52 and some subtle changes have been made and WOW, this book is great. The struggle of fatherhood for Bruce, Damian's tough upbringing by the League of Shadows and their conflicting ideologies on life make this a great read where Alfred plays an important role in both their lives. Of course there is also a villain that needs dealing with but this new villain, known as Nobody, also plays an important part in the relationship between Damian and Bruce. This might possibly be Peter J. Tomasi's best piece of work.
This storyline runs through issues #1-8 of the `New 52' Batman and Robin title. This features Bruce and Damian Wayne as the Batman and Robin team. Bruce is concerned about Damian's attitude to violence and killing; Damian is unconcerned about his family heritage: "Just names and dusty frames on walls to me"; Alfred is his usual self: "I take exception to that. There's not a speck of dust collecting on those portraits".
This is an excellent story, with superb scripting and artwork. It is a character-driven story - despite being full of action - as Bruce sees Damian struggle with the same forces that a figure in his own past also had to contend with, and that didn't work out well. That figure has reappeared, now known as the assassin `NoBody - for he leaves no body behind as evidence. He has taken umbrage to the operation of Batman Incorporated, and has come to seduce Damian to the Dark Side... We get to revisit Bruce's days in training to become the Batman under NoBody's father, a bounty hunter; their falling out; and NoBody losing his father's respect after failing to kill Bruce. Now he's hoping to return the favour. Bruce and Alfred are concerned about the `nature versus nurture' argument, and how it applies to Damian, and whether his mother's training can be overcome. Bruce tries to create more of a family life for himself and Damian, even buying a dog... This is a story about Bruce's struggle to understand his son, Damian's struggle to overcome his nature and earn his father's respect, and Alfred's struggle to get everyone to stay still long enough for his stitches to take effect. Everyone is mostly successful.
PS: Batman didn't check for a pulse before leaving the ship. Remember that "I didn't kill them" statement from issue #1... technically, he didn't: he just didn't stop them from killing themselves...
THE SPOILER ZONE
THE SPOILER ZONE
THE SPOILER ZONE
Issue #1 opens in Moscow, where the Russian operative of Batman Inc. meets the new assassin NoBody for the first and last time. In Gotham, it is the anniversary of the death of Bruce Wayne's parents, and he and Damian go to pay tribute for the last time, as Crime Alley is to be redeveloped, and it is time to look to the future instead of dwelling on the past. They are interrupted by a robbery at Gotham University's reactor room. While Batman struggles with the reactor, Robin chases the fleeing criminals, who have stolen the Batmobile, and disables it, causing it to crash. There is no sign of the criminals in the wreckage. Batman suspects the worst. Damian denies deliberately killing them. NoBody reveals why he is so called, as he disposes of the Russian.
Issue #2 has Batman and Alfred worrying about Damian's upbringing, interrupted only by an outing to take down an arms smuggling operation. NoBody shows up afterwards and kills the tied-up smugglers, then shows up in his civilian guise, Morgan Ducard, to talk to Bruce, who is buying a dog for Damian...
Issue #3 has Bruce upgrading the security of Wayne Manor, and grounding Damian, who goes out on patrol anyway, but is bugged by Alfred. Damian beats up some muggers, but is captured by NoBody; Batman interrupts but is also captured.
Issue 4 starts with a long discussion over the rights and wrongs of locking up the costumed loonies just so they can escape and kill again, interrupted by Alfred's remote controlled Batplane. Back at the cave, more discussion of respect and trust. Damian storms out, and NoBody is waiting for him, and makes him an offer...
Issue #5 opens with a goodbye note from Damian who has run off with NoBody. Batman goes on the hunt for them, while recording a message for Damian, filling in the history of Bruce's relationship with the Ducart family. Meanwhile NoBody has broken up a people-smuggling ring run from an embassy, and given Damian a gun to kill the ambassador...
Issue #6 opens with Damian pulling the trigger, but the gun is not loaded. However, it proves to NoBody that Daman is willing to follow him. The ambassador is taken back to NoBody's hideout for questioning. Bruce continues recording his message, telling how his training with Ducard ended when he refused to execute a bounty-hunted target, and Morgan Ducard was sent to kill him, and how Morgan was disowned for failing. Gordon gives Batman a head start on tracking the missing ambassador, a Damian reveals what he has been up to all along.
NoBody: "I was setting you free. Why would you throw away all I had to offer?
Damian: "Why? Because he's my father, you idiot"
NoBody then broadcasts the sound of him beating Damian over Batman's radio.
Issue #7 opens with Damian getting beaten by NoBody, until Batman breaks in and a big fight ensues. Eventually peace returns and Damian is rescued. Damian kills NoBody.
Issue #8 begins with the escape from NoBody's sinking ship. Damian is taken to the Batcave for Alfred to work on. Bruce gives him the recorded message he has been working on to listen to while he is recovering. There is reconciliation and recovery, until the Bat-signal calls...