Thursday, January 30, 2014

Comic Book Reviews: Batman & Robin Annual #2 and "Arrow" Catch-up

If you can't tell, I didn't get the Catwoman tie-in to Gothtopia. Believe me, that book will be on the shelves for some time, so if I hear something good about it, I'll track it down.

Also, the audio here is catching me up on the TV show "Arrow." Season 2 has been amazing and I highly recommend listening to hear why this show is so epic.

For now, however, I have one book to talk about: Batman & Robin Annual #2.

Ok. THIS is the Issue of the Month.
For those who don't remember the first Annual this title had, it was my Issue of the Year... or it would have been if I had done such an award last year. I still laugh and get misty-eyed at moments in that book and think it holds up nicely. Still a 10/10.

So yeah, this one had a BIG shadow to escape from, and considering that this title has moved so far away from Robin at this point that I'm flat-out dropping the book (I have two solo Batman books already. I don't need a third.), I wasn't inclined to spend $5 on an individual issue.

Boy, am I glad I did.

While this one isn't as brilliant as the first annual, this issue manages to have real heart and humor to it and it's legitimately worth the larger price tag.

I may complain about the premise of this book not being Robin anymore, but Peter J. Tomasi is still a brilliant writer. He tells a well-crafted story about the first mission Dick Grayson ever officially worked as Robin.

I will admit that I prefer Dick Grayson in the pre-Flashpoint universe. I like that he started younger and grew into his role. This version feels like he started WAY too close to Bruce's skill level. Nonetheless, both characters' voices were down pat and I like the initial tension Bruce had with taking on a partner.

Alfred doing awesome Alfred things.
This story is framed in such a way that Dick was telling Damian about this story, and that led to Damian leaving a gift to Dick in his secret Robin cave (a small area above the ceiling). I thought this was a nice way to show the impact Damian had on both Bruce and Dick, and I really enjoyed it.

Doug Mahnke and Patrick Gleason split art duties here. They are both solid artists and do a nice job here, though there were some panels that just didn't work. I'm reminded of a weird smile on Damian's face in one scene as an example.

Nonetheless, outside of a couple panels, the art is great and the coloring was executed perfectly. I really loved the design of the Robin costume and got a kick out of seeing Dick design one that resembled his pre-Flashpoint Nightwing suit.

Again, seriously, listen to my audio and watch "Arrow."
The conflict itself was great, although it used the tired trope where the villain waits to finish the heroes for no actual reason. However, the scene that followed was a great display of Dick's skills, so it's only a small knock.

Overall, it's a done-in-one story that isn't as new-reader friendly as the first annual, but for those who remember Damian Wayne, this is a great story to pick up. Heck, even if you don't know who he is, by the end, it made me want to go back a read old Damian Wayne stuff.

I think this is the book of the month, and I will give it a 9.25/10. It lacked that moment that really clicked emotionally for me, and there were some small hiccups, but it's a must-buy regardless.

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