Robin Rises Omega
Written by Peter Tomasi
Art by Andy Kubert and Jonathan Glapion
Several years ago, Grant Morrison introduced comics audiences to Batman’s son, Damian Wayne. The product of an encounter with Talia al Ghul, the daughter of long-time foe Ra’s al Ghul, Damian had been raised by Talia and trained in the techniques of the League of Shadows, but now that Damian was ten he wanted to discover for himself the truth of the man who fathered him.
The story of the relationship between Damian and the Bat-family is long and complicated and very much beside the point here. Suffice it to say, Damian became the fifth Robin (following Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Stephanie Brown), he partnered for a time with Dick Grayson (during a period where Bruce Wayne was believed dead due to Darkseid and his Omega Beams), and when Dick resumed his Nightwing identity Damian remained Robin to Bruce’s Batman. When Talia unleashed a plan to destroy Gotham City and her own son, Damian attempted to stop her and was forced to battle his own cyborg clone. Then when Ra’s al Ghul stole his grandson’s body, Batman embarked on a quest to recover his son — and find a way to restore him to life.
This last part, the quest to recover his son’s body, was chronicled in Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Batman and… series over the past year. Frankly, I haven’t been following it. I did for the first few months. There was the “Requiem” issue, a silent issue in which Bruce and Alfred mourned Damian’s death. This was followed by a series of issues that introduced Carrie Kelly (the Robin from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns) and saw Batman alienate Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Barbara Gordon in his single-minded quest to find a way to resurrect Damian. My interest in this flagged, and I dropped the title.
Then DC announced that Damian was going to return. And Wednesday, the one-shot that kicks off the storyline, Robin Rises Omega, came out.
My hunch is that this is, essentially, the issue of Tomasi’s Batman and… series that follows the most recent issue, albeit one that’s double-sized and drawn by Andy Kubert instead of Patrick Gleason. Because it starts with Batman, Ra’s al Ghul, Frankenstein, Man-Bat, and their army facing off with an army from Apokalips on the side of the Himalayas.
Wait. That’s not exactly true.
The first eight or so pages is a pretty decent summary of Morrison’s Batman epic (including Final Crisis and Batman’s journey through time), the early “New 52” Batman and Robin storylines, “Death of the Family,” and Bruce’s alienation of the rest of the Bat-family. If you’re curious how it all fits together or if you’re not familiar with the past ten years’ worth of Batman storylines, even though it doesn’t make any sense how Batman can have a ten-year-old son in the post-Flashpoint DC Universe’s abbreviated timeline, Tomasi lays it out.
After that, there’s a lot of exposition, a lot of fighting, a lot of exposition while fighting, a punk-ass Captain Marvel, Lex Luthor getting punched in the face, and a really pissed off Batman.
(Some quick tangential thoughts on Lex Luthor’s role. For those who don’t know, Luthor, arch-enemy of Superman, realized he could be a hero and a force for good in Forever Evil. The newly reformed Luthor has joined the Justice League. He is now, essentially, DC’s Tony Stark — a know-it-all genius asshole in super armor. I like this change in Luthor, and I hope it sticks around, especially because Luthor now knows too much, like Batman’s secret identity, for it to ever go easily back into a box.)
Overall, I felt a bit “meh” about Robin Rises Omega. It’s effective at what it does, there’s enough exposition so that someone could figure out what’s happening, it has a good cliffhanger. But, it’s also Batman fighting Parademons and the forces of Apokalips, and, to be frank, that’s not exactly the kind of Batman story I like.
Batman and the New Gods are a bit incongruous. Batman is a rational, highly trained human being. He’s a gritty, street-level hero. There are some fantasy elements, but he’s basically grounded. The New Gods, on the other hand, as far in advance of humanity as we are in advance of frogs. They are basically magic. I accepted it in Final Crisis because I understood what Morrison was working with — ancient mythologies are replete with stories of man challenging the gods, and final Crisis sees the ultimate man, Batman, challenge the ultimate god, Darkseid, and murder him to free the humanity from the gods’ dominion — and I’m not sold on the idea that Batman must go to Apokalips to resurrect his son.
I’m going to quote Star Trek V here — “I need my pain.” Batman needs his pain. A Batman without tragedy driving him simply isn’t Batman. Batman isn’t emotionally well-adjusted. When Jason Todd was murdered by the Joker (and it took about fifteen years for Jason to “get better”), Batman went off the deep end. It took the Bat-family and the introduction of Tim Drake to pull him back from the brink. If Robin Rises Omega is the story of Batman going to any lengths and going too far, breaking all the laws of man and nature in a single-minded quest to restore his son in which he ultimately fails, I’m down with that.
But I don’t think that’s what we’re going to see. I think we’re going to see Batman going to Apokalips like Denzel Washington in Man on Fire, laying waste to everything and everyone until he gets what he wants — his son back and restored to life. And, to me, that’s too much magic in the world of Batman.
Still. On its own, Kubert’s art looked nice, the opening sequence is effective and good, it’s action packed, there are mysteries laid, and Batman punches Luthor in the face. If you’re interested in the mechanics of Damian’s return to the DC universe, then this is an effective starting point. And if you think Batman shouldn’t be fighting the New Gods, stay far, far away.