Robin is back! After killed off in Batman Incorporated #8, Damian Wayne came back to the land of the living in last week’s Batman and Robin. In an arc that began with his Omega, it’s time to take a look at his brand new Alpha point. This is the culmination of over a year’s worth of stories, of Batman’s grief and pain, of his quest to bring his son home, of a harrowing journey to Apokolips. Does this end up being a perfect ending?
After a slightly expanded recap of the ending of Batman and Robin #37, we barely have a moment to pause as the Batcave comes under attack by a VERY pissed off Kalibak. This New God is more than a bit peeved that his Chaos Cannon has been destroyed, not to mention he got his butt kicked by a mere mortal. Most of Tomasi’s script is this massive battle to send Kalibak back to Apokolips. Given that Cyborg is still paralyzed from a virus he picked up on that literal hell-hole, it means it becomes a battle for the Batcave. Every member of Team Batman gets a time to shine, including Bat-Cow, whose contribution is a bit gross but very funny. Damian’s new powers first manifest in this battle, but Tomasi does something interesting: Damian is actually not exactly gung-ho about them, he is a bit concerned about them as well. However, he puts them to good use right off the bat, and its his moments that are the major highlights of the battle. This issue also hints at the return of a villain that was thought dead as well; how they will fit into future issues remains to be seen. While filled with thrills and a good dose of humor (an attempt at fetch with Titus goes awry very quickly), this one shot suffers somewhat from the same issues from Omega. The first seven pages are just expanded recap, though we do see more of Batman and Co’s return to the Cave and Robin’s resurrection in this than we did in Batman and Robin #37. While interesting, it comes off a bit as padding in this 40 page book. It’s also mainly an extended fight scene, but it is filled with more tension, drama, and humor, than Omega‘s battle royale in Nanda Parabat. While this could have been pared down somewhat, it is a much stronger story than in Omega.
Kuder does a great job on the art. The characters are tremendously expressive; Damian alone goes from joy, to his typical smarmyness, to rage at seeing his father hurt. Alfred himself has an excellent sequence where he goes from disheveled to ready to aid his master…including using a massive gun to send intruders packing. One of the panels that made me laugh is a serene Bat Cow staring down a raging Kalibak. Kuder’s action sequences are also well choreographed, ranging from Damian’s superhuman punch (a two page spread first seen in last week’s Channel 52 column) to his using of the giant penny as a weapon, to Jason Todd going all Ghostbusters on Kalibak. His quiet moments, including a moment harking back to the end of the first arc of the New 52’s Batman and Robin series, are well done as well. However, as I noted in Omega, his faces do get wonky, which are somewhat distracting; plus Titus looks more wolfish than Great Dane-ish. Kuder’s pencils are highly complemented by Glapion’s wonderful inks, which kept the Batcave from being just an inky black location, and Anderson’s vibrant colors.
While it doesn’t quite stick the landing, Robin Rises: Alpha is still a serviceable conclusion to a roller coaster arc that marks Damian Wayne’s return. Now, both he and Batman will have to deal with the new powers that Damian has. This will make things interesting for the Dynamic Duo.
A super powered Robin? Could be fun. At least Carrie Kelley isn’t in the tights!
Welcome back, Damian.
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