My issue with Batman and Robin Annual #2, which is a mostly unremarkable recreation of Dick Grayson first day as Robin, is the comic is simply yet another example of DC continuing to shit all over their own characters’ beloved comic history by rebranding the first Robin costume as a crappy version of Tim Drake‘s pre-New 52 costume.
Although the Annual’s story allows it to weave in Damian (reminding us how much the Bat-books miss him right now), it doesn’t actually do much to compare Damian and Dick’s versions of Robin (which is really supposed to be the point). I will say the joke about an average day in school for Dick was funny (but didn’t need to be repeated). But the villain, Tusk, is completely forgettable, and even this younger version of Batman comes off like a complete prick through 90% of the story.
Even with the fan bait of giving Batman fans a taste of the character Grant Morrison killed only because he could, Batman and Robin Annual #2 is unremarkarkable except for the fact it will likely continue to piss off longtime DC fans. Pass.
Offering another quintet of black and white Batman tales, Batman: Black and White #5 is anchored by a Two-Face story from Len Wein and artist Victor Ibáñez which features a complicated two-pronged attack, misdirection, and an appearance of Nightwing in his pre-New 52 costume (complete with the fan appreciated finger stripes).
“Hell Night” from Ivan Brandon gives us Batman on one brutal night (with a late twist I don’t quite buy) and beautiful art by Paolo Manuel Rivera. Blair Butler and Chris Weston offer a bizarre story featuring the death of the Caped Crusader (sort of), and Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Andrew Robinson give us a story featuring Bruce Wayne mostly out of the Batsuit finding his “super-power” (but when he does appear as Batman it’s in the classic costume complete with the yellow ellipse Bat symbol).
Although I enjoyed the tone of Keith Giffen and Javier Pulido’s “Cat and Mouse” featuring a crook’s version of his encounter with Batman, it’s probably the weakest of this month’s stories. Worth a look.
The Wrap is reporting Girls star Adam Driver is the front-runner for the role of Nightwing in 2015′s Batman vs. Superman
The Vulture is reporting that David Cross will make an appearance on Community for “at the very least, the second most important game of Dungeons & Dragons ever”
Variety is reporting Gal Gadot, Elodie Yung, and Olga Kurylenko are all in the running to play Wonder Woman in Batman vs. Superman
Bruce Wayne‘s obsession about his son’s death continues in this issue as Alfred reaches out to Nightwing when Batman becomes lost in a virtual recreation of events trying desperately to change the outcome and save his son’s life. Although the structure of the story feels a little off, the emotion works well especially once Nightwing, and later Alfred, join in.
With Nightwing’s help Batman is able to “save” Damian, but it’s the advice Dick gives Bruce back in the real world that seems to finally start the healing process. And the comic’s final few pages dealing with Alfred resetting the simulation shows us, and Batman, just how much grief the butler has been carrying around for allowing Damian out of the Batcave on that fateful night.
Although the final former side-kick issue is done, the comic will continue the Batman and… with villains such as Two-Face and Killer Croc leading into Batman and Carrie Kelly #25 which may, or may not, begin a new direction for the title. Worth a look.
The Bat Boys come out to play as Gotham finds itself under siege from the threat of the new villain Termius. While Batman goes all Iron Man to fight the armored dying madman obsessed with destroying Batman and Gotham before he draw his last breath Damian gets assistance from the former Robins as Nightwing, Red Robin, and even the Red Hood, show up to stop Terminus’ hired mercenaries and odd mutated creatures.
Okay, Batman and Robin #12 isn’t great, and there are a couple truly groan worthy moments, but it’s certainly high on action (even if it never bothers to explain the reasons behind Terminus’ obsession with destroying Batman and Gotham).
I like seeing the Robins together in this issue and if DC is looking for another Bat-title to replace one of the underperforming New 52 books may I suggest something along the lines of Robin Team-Up (featuring Robins current and past teaming up for short arcs – which would allow for the inclusion of Stephanie Brown, too). Worth a look.
After surviving an attack from Paragon and his acolytes in the Republic of Tomorrow‘s secret lair Nightwing continues to piece together who is framing him for murder, and why. At first he’s sure Detective Nie is responsible, but a little more investigating leads him to a new conclusion.
The issue also continues the tenuous relationship between Dick and Tony Zucco‘s daughter Sonia. The pair have their first fight when she breaks the news that his loan was denied because of what happened when Haly Circus returned to Gotham. I’m really, really hoping writer Kyle Higgins isn’t going to try to link these two romantically.
Paragon cleans house of the disloyal soldiers before looking for a new ally to take down one of Gotham’s self-appointed saviors. The story continues, but doesn’t really advance that much (even Nightwing’s eureka moment is kept from readers) so aside from the developments in the subplot with Sonia you could probably skip this one and not miss a beat. Hit-and-Miss.
With the “Night of Owls” crossovers now official done Nightwing moves forward with a new arc as Dick Grayson makes several important decisions about his future. We also get our first look at the army of vigilantes dressed up as knights and led by another New 52 villain – Paragon.
Nightwing, at least for the forseeable future, seems to be staying in Gotham and so is the Haly’s Circus as Dick comes up with a new plan to fix up Gotham’s run down amusement park Amusement Mile perhaps with the help of Tony Zucco‘s daughter Sonia. We also finally get back to the story of Nightwing being framed for murder (remember that?).
The issue finally fills in some information about the corrupt cop Detective Nie who tried to pin a murder wrap on Batman by planting evidence looks to be the man behind Nightwing’s stick showing up at a recent murder as well. This story works better for me than Paragon (although I’m betting the two are related). This was a make-or-break issue for Nightwing for me, and although it’s not great there’s enough here to bring me back for another month. Worth a look.
Nightwing battles his great-grandfather William Cobb, the greatest of the Talons, and tries to save Mayor Hady from assassination as “Night of the Owls” continues. During the bloody battle which Nightwing barely survives we get Cobb’s backstory and his reasoning for joining the Court of Owls.
Although the battle between Nighwing and Talon works, the flashbacks take up far too much of the comic (you’d almost think Cobb was the comic’s main character). Neither Dick Grayson, nor the reader, really needs this amount of back story for the Grayson’s zombie assassin ancestor.
The Court of Owls storyline, which started in Batman, is working far better in than title than most of other Bat-titles it’s spread to this month. In terms of “Night of the Owls” this tie-in certainly isn’t a must-read to keep up with the main story, but for fans of Nightwing the action may, may be enough to still warrant picking it up. Hit-and-Miss.
“Night of the Owls” continues as Nightwing receives Alfred‘s call for help and sets out to save the Mayor from a Talon attack. Issue #8 is a little different from what we’ve seen of the title so far as most of the issue isn’t presented from Nightwing’s perspective, but from that of a character who will only appear on the final page.
Most of the issue is narrated flashback of William Cobb, retelling his life story including his early days with Haly’s Circus and his recruitment into the Court of Owls. Nightwing is able to save the Mayor by defeating one of the Talons, but our final panel gives the arrival of another, far more deadly Talon (Cobb, who arrives to kill his descendant).
For an issue where Dick Grayson’s voice is largely absent the story still works, although I’m not sure we needed this much of Cobb’s backstory. I’m more surprised, however, by the continued level of smart aleck banter from the zombie-ish Talons. Who knew the undead were so talkative? Worth a look.
As the big top explodes beneath them, Saiko and Nightwing have their final confrontation as the young man with some misplaced anger delivers a huge plot dump in the middle of their climactic final battle.
As in Batman #7 (also released this week) Dick learns that he was chosen by the Court of Owls to be one of their Talon killers. So… Haly’s Circus is nothing more than an early training ground for assassins for a secret order who live beneath the streets of Gotham City?
When the Flying Graysons died and Dick left the circus and Saiko was chosen in his stead. Nice of them to have a runner up, I guess. Right? On a positive note the art by Eddie Barrows continues to impress. This is probably the best looking issue of the series yet. Too bad about the story.
We also get the same sequence of Batman knocking Dick’s tooth out to prove a point as we did in Batman #7. It doesn’t work any better here (in fact it works less because Saiko has already given him some of the information he seems shocked to hear from the Dark Knight Detective). Hit-and-Miss.