Review – Robin Son of Batman vol. 1: Year of Blood TP (DC Comics)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer/Artist: Patrick Gleason
Release Date: 23rd March, 2016

Damian Wayne is firmly committed to being a hero.  However, the shadow of his “Year of Blood” – the final twelve months of his intensive Al Ghul training – hangs over him like a dark cloud, and in order to cleanse his demons, Damian has made a vow to put right all the wrongs he carried out during this time.

The first collected volume of this new series, written and illustrated by Patrick Gleason, has a hell of a lot going for it.  Firstly, as fans of Gleason and Tomasi’s Batman and Robin run will readily attest to, Patrick draws a mean Damian Wayne.  His scowling, pouting Robin looks every inch the pre-teen Boy Wonder, and he does a fantastic job of both utilising and showcasing Damian’s diminutive stature during the book’s frequent action sequences.

As a writer, Gleason also does an impressive job with the main story as well, giving a real sense of purpose to Damian’s quest and showing a surprising of character growth even during the course of just these six issues.  The inclusion of the Maya, the daughter of “Nobody” – the Bat villain who Damian shockingly killed during the pages of Batman and Robin – as a de facto sidekick works incredibly well, with their relationship and the parallels between the two characters providing the real heart of this first arc.

Unfortunately, the side-plots fare a little less well, with some of the flashbacks to Damian’s formative years – not to mention the shadowy demonic force hot on his heels – feeling a little underdeveloped and, given the strength of the main story, almost surplus to requirements.  A brief appearance from the DCU’s favourite sword-wielding mercenary provides a more entertaining diversion, and while it’s clear that Gleason has more of a ‘big picture’ in mind here, the minutiae of Damian’s quest to make amends for his action provides by far the most gripping aspect of this series.

For a lot of readers planning on picking this one up, it’s going to be Gleason’s distinctive artistic style which proves to be the real selling point.  Bold, dynamic and colourful, with an ever so slightly over-the-top approach to the visual aspect of the storytelling – Damian’s hulking, airborne steed “Goliath”, for instance – Gleason paints a vibrant picture of the young Master Wayne’s quest for redemption.  With a blistering pace, the action comes fast and furious here, and while there can be the occasional awkward-looking acrobatic panel along the way, for the most part things flow smoothly throughout.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Gleason’s Damian Wayne is now the definitive version – for me, at least – and while this may not quite be a flawless arc, it’s still an incredibly fun one. If you’re a fan of the title character, this is absolutely essential reading, if only to marvel at Gleason’s wonderfully energetic visual storytelling.

Rating: 4/5.

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The writer of this piece was: 576682_510764502303144_947146289_nCraig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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