*Yes, this review reveals whether Damian has returned or if he'll remain dead and another character will take his place. You probably already know by now but if there's like, a handful of people who still don't know, consider this your SPOILER warning!*
Damian Wayne is back! For me and many others, that makes us want to celebrate and throw confetti. And, as you more than likely know by now, the little dude now has powers! As if his ego wasn't big enough already, right? That said, Peter J. Tomasi doesn't make Damian's return full of sharp banter and witty insults, and that's a good thing. I love Damian's personality a whole lot -- and there is a panel or two where this shines through -- but the kid just came back from the dead and is already being thrown into a hectic situation (we'll discuss that part in a moment). There's no room for snarky remarks or attitude; it's all about the emotional impact of Batman's son finally coming back to life and then almost immediately having to fight to survive.
Damian learning about his new abilities isn't a slow discovery or a drawn out process. It's pretty much trial by fire as he's forced to push himself and defend his friends (and pets!) against Darkseid's son, Kalibak. The villain was obliterated by Batman and then the Dark Knight attacked his father, so you can't really blame the foe for wanting some revenge. Thankfully, Kalibak isn't a total jobber this time around and he gives the team major trouble. Even with Damian's new powers, the kid's in for one tough fight (it's good he's not so overpowered that he can just walk all over this kind of villain) and watching him discover what he's capable of on the fly was good fun. The battle is pure superhuman mayhem as big punches are thrown, objects are smashed into characters, and there's even a good moment or two of comedy thrown in there. Between this scene and the big brawl back in SUPERMAN UNCHAINED, Bruce Wayne must spend a ton of money on repairs in the Batcave.
After all of the recap and brawling, Tomasi focuses purely on teasing this book's future. There's a decent amount of heart along the way and, if you've been loving this book, the final set of pages will absolutely have you excited for what's to come. It's a more quiet moment that manages to focus on character, deliver a good laugh, and make us feel optimistic for the upcoming issues. It just feels good to have these characters reunited again and reminds me why I've been loving this series so much. But, before that occurs, the violent return of a villain (or at least I'm pretty sure it's her) is randomly teased. It's a bit of a jarring departure from spending time with the Bat-family, but it's understandable Tomasi wanted to give us a bigger hint about what the upcoming story will incorporate. It's kind of funny because it seems like if a character died in BATMAN INCORPORATED, it's looking like Tomasi will find a way to bring 'em back! Honestly, it's best to just wait and see how this character's arc is handled instead of jumping to conclusions when there's so little information available. If Tomasi can bring these characters back, then there's hope for Nobody, right?
Thanks to Andy Kubert, Jonathan Glapion, Brad Anderson's work on the panels, these pages pack one hell of a punch. The action-packed craziness will make you want to cheer, the heartfelt moments are impactful, and there's even a bit of visual comedy (Kalibak being face to face with Bat-cow had me cracking up). An epic and exciting conclusion deserves equally epic and exciting visuals. Thankfully, this team delivered consistently animated, thrilling, and emotional pages. Oh, and the final double-page spread is definitely going to make you smile. I'm pretty sure a good amount of us will use it as a new wallpaper, too.
This issue has 10+ pages of what is basically reliving BATMAN AND ROBIN #37's final scene. Yes, it offers new angles and the quick look at Alfred preparing was a nice addition, but that issue came out last week. The cover price is $4.99 because we're paying for extra pages, but it feels like entire opening is there just for new readers and, as someone who loves this series and has been with it since the beginning, that's pretty disappointing. I can't help but feel like if we're paying extra, that extra content should appeal to all the fans and not just people who will buy this issue because they heard it's the return of Robin. I get why the first chapter of Robin Rises began with several pages of recap -- it's a jumping on spot and covering a lot of history -- but this is the conclusion of the story and having a recap page would have been greatly preferred over spending more than a handful of pages offering what is basically "previously on BATMAN AND ROBIN." That would have allowed for more new content after the big fight. Also, a thorough recap page would be less jarring for new readers because it can explain the immediate situation Batman is in.
As for the story, a vast majority is a ginormous fight and then teasing this book's future (e.g. the return of a villain, swiftly talking about Damian's powers). There's nothing substantial just yet, but it's still a blast and has me stoked for what's to come.
Robin Rises started as an action-packed story that's full of over-the-top and crazy fun. Since then, it has pretty much been non-stop popcorn entertainment and refused to slow down. To no one's surprise, that's also how it ends! It's a bummer so many pages were spent on recap (one detailed intro page would have been great!), but this is still a ton of entertainment and sure to feel like pure fan service for longtime readers of BATMAN AND ROBIN. Robin Rises really is the kind of story that needs to be turned into an animated movie. It's ridiculously fun and has just the right amount of character. Damian's return was a blast and I'm so excited to see what Tomasi will hit us with next in the pages of BATMAN AND ROBIN.