Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Dustin Nguyen
Letters: Steve Wands
Release Date: 11/09/2021
At this point in history, the story of Batman and Robin (or Robin and Batman) is a tale that is old as time. In Robin & Batman #1 by Jeff Lemire, we once more dive into the earlier years of the Dynamic Duo (insert audible sigh). This particular story has been rehashed so many times, that at this point, I could write a 20-page dissertation on it. However, going into Robin and Batman #1, my main question is this: What will be different this go around?
*Spoilers to follow*
It is evident in this issue, that Batman wanted to subconsciously create a miniature version of himself when he adopted Dick Grayson. The opening pages squarely hint at this. Bruce wants Dick to fight like him and even look like him in costume. One can argue that he wanted to imbue a piece of himself into Dick. As Alfred points out, this is wrong. If there is one thing about Dick that we can all agree on, is that he is the happy-go-lucky type in the relationship. Yes, he has experienced trauma beyond belief. He and Bruce share the same trauma (duh). But whereas Bruce embraced the darkness and anger, Dick denies it.
Now, the above paragraph is the main line status quo of Robin & Batman right? Well, issue #1 also presented the inverse to the above. Lemire hit me with a 1, 2, punch as we become privy to Dick’s journal entries. Dick feels himself embracing the darkness and enjoying what it brings (peace of mind from his reality). This is the something different that I was looking for.
In Robin and Batman #1 Dick is grounded. Much like Butters from South Park, he is not allowed to do anything. This deeply infuriates him which leads to him breaking free of the chains that Bruce put on him. Dick goes so far as to distinguish himself from Batman that instead of hiding in the dark, he wants attention drawn to him (hello red, yellow, and green). I always enjoy diving deeper into the relationship that the Dynamic Duo has. Often, it has been compared to a father/son relationship however I always viewed it as a big brother little brother scenario. Dick is eager to become like his older brother (and his older brother likes this), but much like young kids, he is also trying to find himself. By doing so, he becomes the opposite and begins becoming his person. Creating his own identity. Lemire does an excellent job of dropping these seeds into this story.
So, I end this review with my initial question: What will be different this go around? Robin and Batman #1 by Jeff Lemire is the opposite of what we are normally accustomed to with early Batman and Robin stories. Yes, Batman is here. Yes, Alfred is here as well, but this is squarely a Robin story. Batman is almost like a background character. You can feel his presence, but he is far from being the main character. If you are a fan of Robin or even early Dynamic Duo stories, I would 100% recommend checking out this issue. The only downside is the number of issues! There are only 3! DC, it would be nice if this was a 12-issue series like Task Force Z but hey, maybe this entry of the Boy Wonder can be neatly wrapped in 3 issues.