After careful consideration, I'm going to try to be a little fairer with this review. Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason give us this issue of Batman and Robin, opening with Bruce appraising his son's work as Robin. He tells Alfred it's his job to fix the damage Talia inflicted on him, while Alfred tells him it's his job to be a father, not a mechanic.
Bruce tells Alfred over panels of the indoctrination Damian underwent, he has to push Damian past his upbringing and hope nurture wins out over nature. Over a panel of Batman, Nightwing, and Robin, Bruce realizes the war he hoped to wage was never meant to expose children to this life, but he somehow kept failing and was really no better than Talia.
As Damian continues to ravage the training equipment, Bruce admits he's afraid of dying and leaving a hole in Damian's life, afraid of what he will become should that happen.
Later, inside his room, Damian sits at a drafting board. Bruce walks in without knocking and after being called out for it by Damian, apologizes for not respecting his privacy. Once he checks that Damian's homeschooling work is done, he says they're going to take down a weapons shipment.
A semi-truck drives along the road, criminals inside finalizing plans for the weapons drop. Two well-aimed incendiaries stop them in time for Batman and Robin to attack. Much of the action focuses on Robin's actions, with Batman watching him closely. As they bind up the villains, Batman tells Robin the restraint he showed was commendable. Robin says they deserved worse, but Batman reminds him it's not their place to deliver that kind of punishment.
They speed off as the police move closer. Rather than the police cutting the criminals down, Nobody slits their throats.
Back at the cave, Damian attacks the practice dummies with renewed vigor. Alfred and Bruce continue their discussion of parenting methods. Alfred thinks Damian would benefit from sleep, and Bruce is in favor of anything that keeps Damian from maiming villains. He explains the events of the evening to Alfred and Alfred asks if Bruce told him he was proud of him. However, when he hears exactly what Bruce said, "commendable" rather than "I'm proud of you" or "great job", he simply says Bruce has a lot to learn.
After destroying a little over a million dollars worth of equipment, Damian and Bruce decide to turn in for the evening. Bruce tells Damian that his field work was nice, and Damian responds that he knows it was. Bruce tells him to get some sleep as Damian stands at the bottom of the stairs to the cave. Once he's alone, he plucks a bat out of the air, kills it without thinking about it, and then tosses it into the depths of the cave. Alfred, silent and unnoticed, watches the whole thing.
We cut to Bruce Wayne looking into adopting a Great Dane at a kennel when he's approached by a man named Morgan. We learn this is Nobody in his civilian disguise. When Bruce asks why he's there, Morgan says it's because of Batman's general behavior, but also the franchising. Bruce learns this is who killed the Moscow representative in issue one. More interestingly, Morgan claims this is their mission, not simply Bruce's mission. He claims to be the only one able to save Bruce from himself. Before Bruce can get any more information, Morgan blows up a barrel rigged with candy to give himself time to make an escape. The issue ends with Bruce looking around worriedly, while stroking the dog.
I found this issue to be better. I enjoyed the extremely strained interaction between Bruce and Damian, a dynamic I found to be a little more believable than the interactions in the last issue. I did have a little difficulty with the scene where Damian killed the bat, but other than that, I thought it was a much better written issue. Tomasi's Bruce voice is very distinct and fatherly, while still maintaining the stand-offishness of Batman. I'm growing to like this more and more.
I definitely give credit to Patrick Gleason in this issue. This has two of my favorite spreads this month. First, we have the overview of Damian's life as it's been told to us over the last few years, framed around an image of Damian savagely attacking the dummy. Then, though I have issues with the scene I have none with the art, we have Damian plucking a bat out of the air and killing it with the blankest expression I've ever seen on his face, and then Alfred's concerned face peeking out of the shadows as Damian walks away, shoulders slumped.
Batman and Robin #2:
Reviewed by Melinda Hinman