Publisher: DC Kids
Writer/Artist: Jeffrey Brown
Release Date: 9th November 2021
Set for release later this month from DC Kids and aimed squarely at the middle school comic book reader, Batman, Robin and Howard is the latest offering from Jeffrey Brown, the New York Times bestselling cartoonist behind the popular Darth Vader and Son picture book series.
The story sees a young, impetuous Damian Wayne making a serious mistake while out on patrol and being made to enroll in Gotham Metro Academy as a way to refocus himself. Here Damian meets Howard, the smartest, most athletic and most popular kid in school, sparking a fierce rivalry between the two about which of them can be top of the class.
It’s a fun concept, and covers a lot of ground that will likely be relatable for younger readers, such as trying to fit in with new people, dealing with insecurity and frustration, and ultimately, learning to work as a team. It’s never too heavy-handed though, and Brown ensures to keep things fun and lighthearted as the two kids clash on the football field and the classroom with gradually escalating consequences.
Batman himself is pure comedy gold here, and the sub-plot where he investigates a footie-based villain in the background is likely to bring a smile to many a reader’s face. The series of funny misunderstandings as he tries to tie in various members of his rogues gallery to the fairly mundane “crimes” are brilliant, as is his reaction to be unexpectedly incarcerated. Brown’s well-established sense of humour is on full display in these sequences, which serve as a nice counterpoint to the more character-based scenes with Damian and Howard.
The artwork is solid and expressive throughout, and readers familiar with Brown’s previous well-received work will know exactly what to expect. Excessive detail isn’t really necessary here, and I’m a big fan of the colouring style, almost feeling like a blend of watercolours and children’s crayons – again, a great look for a book like this. And while the action sequences are relegated to the football field, there’s still enough eye-catching stuff here to keep all 135 of the pages turning.
While it’s most certainly aimed at preteens, Brown does a great job here of delivering a relatable story of two youngsters dealing with insecurity and learning to become friends, all wrapped up in a familiar, appealing Batman package. If you have a younger comic book fan in your life, I can heartily recommend this latest addition to the DC Kids imprint.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]