Damian is back! In Andy Kubert’s alternate reality/ peek into a possible future Damian is alive and kicking. Rather than wasting panels describing the how’s and why’s of this (we get a one line explanation later in the story), we’re dropped right into festering stew of homeless folks and fish guts courtesy of the clown prince of crime. Kubert’s lines and Brad Andersons subdued color pallet render the scene so vividly that I wanted to put the book down and wash my hands. In this incarnation, Robin has grown up since his days in Batman Incorporated but retains those brash and unrestrained qualities that I blame on the Al Ghul portion of his bloodline. It doesn’t take long before a sudden turn of events play on Damian’s inner darkness and a bunch of A-list bad guys get served some Judge Dredd-style justice. It’s the kind of gonzo craziness that only an out-of-continuity storyline can deliver in the Batman universe and that’s what makes it a fun read for die hards and new fans alike.
Too soon man, too soon. As much as I enjoyed this book, it feels a bit like a joke about flooding before the rain stops. Or worse, a litmus test to find out how bad the Bat fans want to see Damian popped back into the land of the living again. If you can clear that hurdle, you’ll have to get over Robin’s new look. This is no Boy Wonder. Maybe it’s good genetics but Damian looks like he’s on the juice. Just take a gender at the cover: his calf is a big as his thigh! Maybe his violent tendencies are just ‘roid rage? Once you adjust to a Robin that could body double for Wolverine, you have to figure out why he’d, in a time of need, look up his mother and grandfather to ask them for a favor. A favor? Dude, she sicked your cloned sorta-brother on you and killed you. Talk about unresolved mommy issues.
If you can put aside the dubious motives behind publishing this book so soon after his demise and ignore the concept of Damian reaching out to the worst mom ever for a solid, go pick up a copy and enjoy the beginning of what looks to be an interesting tale of what could have been (or my still be).
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