Batman & Robin #5 is written by Joshua Williamson and published by DC Comics. Artwork is by Nikola Čižmešija and colours by Rex Lokus. Letters by Steve Wands. Main cover art (left) is also by Simone Di Meo.
Batman & Robin #5 is available now, in print and on digital platforms where all good comic books are sold.
BATMAN AND ROBIN HAVE BEEN SEPARATED! Batman works with White Rabbit to track down the new femme fatale Shush while his son, Damian, hunts down the criminal mastermind who is targeting his father! But Damian won’t like who he finds! Don’t miss out on the shocking ending!
This might just be my favourite issue of Batman & Robin so far. After so much of the book taking place at night time, this month both Bruce and Damian are coming out in to the light. I’ve spoken at length about how Batman & Robin is reintroducing an action-adventure tone to the DCU. Something which steps away from the darker Batman and Detective Comics aesthetic, offering readers more variety in storytelling. Issue #5 is easily the best example of that by bringing plenty of comedy to table alongside the wonderful dynamic between father and son.
Throwing us all off-balance the issue picks up at a pancake breakfast behind held at Gotham High. A group of thirty mothers are giving the eye to a man referred to as “the very definition of tall, dark and handsome”. Of course it’s none other than Bruce, complete with name tag and plates full of pancakes. The Dark Knight can (and very much does) take part in parent-teacher activities and it’s hilarious to watch. Before we even see Damian it’s clear from Williamson’s brilliant approach that this issue is going to be full to the brim with teenage angst. When it arrives it’s so perfectly pitched to set Batman & Robin aside from much of the rest of current DC storytelling. I’d go as far as to say that Williamson has brought Batman & Robin back to the glory days of Grant Morrison’s run.
The crux of the issue has Damian suspecting everyone around him of foul play. Even when fellow student Erica tries to befriend him he can’t take her at face value. Williamson distills the character down to his most emotionally driven version. It feels perfectly in keeping with who Damian is. But allows the book to approach him differently from within this new scenario. We see him cringing at his father for simply being at the school, a moment which is hilariously backed up by their conversation from the previous night. But simultaneously we see that razor sharp focus on the missions as Damian suspects teachers and students alike of being more than meets the eye.
All of those brilliant Damian moments are counterbalanced by this fatherly, warm, smiley version of Bruce. In many ways both of them are playing roles. But both are also caught off-guard by their emotional responses to interactions they become involved with. For a moment they’re almost a “normal” father and son which is intriguing to see. The consequences of which reverberate in to their evening activities as Batman and Robin.
All this AND there’s still room for some plot development. Between the flashback sequence earlier in the issue and the final page, there’s some small but significant movement on the wider narrative. Hats off to Williamson for really creating a masterpiece in tone and balance.
Simone Di Meo steps aside this issue and artwork is provided by Nikola Čižmešija and colourist by Rex Lokus. Čižmešija has a cool, edgy style which really fits well with the setting this week. His style really captures the movement within panels and so scenes like Damian playing football really provoke the sense of action. Lokus’ colours palette is more straight forward than Di Meo. Again it fits well with the daytime setting. Straight forward doesn’t have to be a bad thing and I would suggest it suits this story more than Di Meo’s more heavily stylised colouring.
A brilliant piece of character work from Williamson and the creative team. Batman & Robin has found its sweet spot and I can’t wait to see where it leads.