Batman & Robin #5 is a filler issue. What’s worse, it’s an unnecessary filler issue that grinds the story to a halt. In comic books, fillers are often necessary evils but they usually involve a one-shot story that helps bridge the chasm between the end of one story arc and the beginning of another. Outside of that, filler issues usually hurt a series by extending a story arc farther than it needs to go. I have really enjoyed the new direction of Batman & Robin and I’m not giving up on the book at all. That being said, issue #5 is pretty much junk.
Damian Wayne has fled Wayne Manor and taken up with Morgan Ducard, son of Henri and current villain of Batman. Ducard hates how easy on crime Batman is and believes that Robin can be trained to carry on the kill-the-bad-guys Ducard mantra. The relationship between Bruce Wayne and Damian has been strained to say the least. Damian is filled with rage; he wants a father, a hero to look up to. Batman is not really a people person, nor is he father material, so he continues to fail as both mentor and parent. Feeling lost and alone, Damian has turned to Ducard, a man who he can at least identify with.
Writer Peter J. Tomasi has been dealing with some really heady stuff in Batman & Robin. He’s also been working to deepen and layer the relationship between father and son. Bringing in Ducard was a masterful stroke; it set up a new leader for Damian to follow as well as bringing a voice of (twisted) reason to the ridiculous concept of Batman Inc. Thus far, Ducard has been a great character but in issue #5 he’s reduced to clichéd speeches about Robin’s “new direction” and “proving he’s ready” and it’s turned him into a psychopath with no point.
The larger problem with issue #5 is the backstory that Batman foists on us in the guise of a recording he’s leaving for Damian. There’s been a secretive back and forth between Ducard and the Dark Knight about some event that went down between them, something that created an impassable chasm between the two men. Instead of illuminating that story, Tomasi delves into the tedious story of how Bruce Wayne got Morgan’s father Henri to train him. It’s a flat story that does nothing but fill pages. Between the hackneyed backstory and the continuous speeches from Ducard, Batman & Robin #5 equals out to zero. Nothing happens, nothing moves the arc forward; it just lays there like so much dead weight.
Even Patrick Gleason’s pencils are phoned in. Each page just lays there with no life to it. It feels like Gleason read this filler issue and decided to hit it with filler art. The faces all look the same expression wise, there’s little in the way of movement or dynamics. I don’t know what happened with Batman & Robin #5 but I’m hopeful that it’s just a hiccup and not an indication that the series is already starting a downward slide.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 4/10 (2 Story, 2 Art)