Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Mahmud Asrar, Jordie Bellaire, Steve Wands, and Nathan Fairbairn
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: October 11th, 2022
HOUSE OF SECRETS…HOUSE OF DEATH. In the wake of Damian Wayne’s devastating attack on the Batcave, Bruce and Alfred are on the run and running out of time! Magic users across the planet are experiencing dangerous and deadly power flares, and Batman must solve this mystery before his friends and allies are turned to ash. To crack this case, the Dark Knight is going to need the help of one of the greatest masters of the magic arts on the planet…Zatanna! What awaits our ragtag group of heroes in the House of Secrets? Can Damian break free of Nezha’s possession spell before he murders his own father? All this and more in the explosive second chapter of Batman vs. Robin #2 by Mark Waid!
There is a bunch of magical background and characters at the beginning of the issue that could be extremely confusing to someone just jumping on board now. Nevertheless, Waid attempts to weave in their abilities and purpose provided fans are aware that some of the material gets a bit complex. Yet even with that intricacy, Waid does give fans a better glimpse as the magic seems to be going a bit haywire.
Additionally, readers are given a good idea as to who, how, and why Damian is doing this but Batman and Alfred are still left in the dust… at least partially. And eventually, Waid offers readers a minor instant replay as to the events leading up to Batman Vs. Robin in the recent series Robin by Joshua Williamson which helps to better explain the cold open a bit more. Plus, Waid makes the focus of Batman Vs. Robin #2 about showcasing to the readers and Batman the reasoning beyond Damian’s sudden twist of loyalty.
A MISSING PIECE
However, that’s my biggest concern about the issue. Readers see who’s pulling the strings and where this story began. But, it’s almost as if there is this middle piece still missing. Where is the motive for Damian to track down the Devil Nezha? Why and how did Mother Soul persuade him to unleash Nezha back on the world? This is the part that seemed the most confusing and vacant from Batman Vs. Robin #2.
Lastly, I feel hardcore DC fans who read a ton of comics will be a bit disappointed. Why? Well, if you follow Batman & Superman: World’s Finest as well as the Robin series, you basically knew all of this information (for the most part). So other than the sneaky last page reveal you get very little new information. Moreover, if you’re a newer fan who’s just jumping into this series, magic-based stories can get a bit surreal and difficult to follow creating a bit of fatigue in reading and deciphering. Together, these two elements certainly weighed down the issue making Batman Vs. Robin #2 not as powerful and exciting as the opener.
Mahmud Asrar does a fantastic job this week pulling out the emotion within the character’s expressions. Readers will see their pain, shock, and anger with vivid renderings that set the temperature of the comic well. Additionally, the tone of the issue felt like an 80s comic with some of the more silly depictions like little men crawling up Alfred and Batman’s bodies, the finger puppets, and even the larger-than-life marionette. These renderings offered a classic feel with an updated twist that this reviewer couldn’t get enough of.
Batman Vs. Robin #2 does its best to provide some needed background to this series rather quickly… but not so effectively. The magical confusion put a damper on the story and added some complexities that weighed down the issue with funky flashbacks and surreal reveals that ultimately still left out one key component. What is Damian’s personal motivation for unleashing the Devil Nehza? Is sheer curiosity the only connection? And if so, that seems a bit silly.
Nevertheless, even after combing through some background information (that many fans reading this probably already knew), I’m still rather excited for Batman Vs. Robin. The concept connecting the Al Ghul’s history, the Lazarus Pits, and the Devil Nezha are all rather uniquely intriguing. The logical Batman meets the occult… it’s always an interesting concept. Alas, I just think Batman Vs. Robin #2 was a down issue caused to make the series as inclusive as possible. Don’t sit on this series but be prepared to be caught up on all things related as Batman Vs. Robin #2 unfolds. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless.