By Will Barber Taylor
In the previous edition of TDTOTDK, we looked at a story about how Gotham’s criminal classes managed to create all their elaborate traps for Batman. This time, we look at Batman and Robin’s first outing together as The Dynamic Duo in The New 52 in Batman and Robin: Week One! (Batman and Robin Annual #2)
While the previous story examined the heart of Gotham’s underworld, Week One is about the heart of the relationship between Batman and Robin. Set in the aftermath of Damien Wayne’s death, Bruce finds a box addressed to Dick Grayson which relates to the tale of how Grayson and Bruce took down the villainous Tusk during their first outing.
Scribe Peter J Tomasi brings a sense of fun to this epic tale which others wouldn’t have. Tomasi plays well on the dynamic between Bruce and Dick during their first outing together. Both are early on in their careers and it shows. While later on in continuity Batman can still be distant, he is much more trusting and lets more people into his crusade (eventually forming the “Bat Family”). However, as Tomasi skilfully depicts, Bruce doesn’t want to bring anyone to harm so he sees Dick’s early risk taking as irresponsible and attempts to try and stop him from taking part in his cases. This serves to create some nice dramatic tension between the two protagonists and helps to drive the story along; Dick’s need to prove himself to Bruce means that he goes against his wishes and journeys out as Robin. Tomasi shows in both the present day sequence and the flashback, a sense of family surrounding Bruce, Alfred, Dick and Damien. In other words, they have a sense of collective responsibility for one another. They are less like a team of crime fighters and more like a group of close friends, something that is often lacking in certain Batman books.
The artwork by Doug Mahnke is brilliantly done. Mahnke creates realistic and subtly nuanced depictions of our characters. Batman during his younger days looks as you’d imagine him with Mahnke showing subtle differences between his costume and that of the present Caped Crusader. Mahnke also creates grisly lines on Tusk’s face, making the villain look even more brutal and grotesque than his name implies. The fight scenes between him and Robin are also nicely illustrated and depict Robin’s agility and Tusk’s lumbering aggressiveness.
Overall, Batman and Robin: Week One is a lovely one shot which helps show Batman has changed over his career and how he has developed as a character. It also shows the Bat Family in a positive light as opposed to the often dark and destructive take on them that is depicted some comics.
Next Time: A Batman In London!