Batman and Robin Annual #1 was written by Peter Tomasi and illustrated by Ardian Syaf.
After the Death of the Family story, this annual was perfectly timed as a palette cleanser before diving into the next round of stories.
The book opens with Batman bringing down a criminal and telling him to confess or run the risk of never eating solid food again. From there, Bruce is sent by Damian on a scavenger hunt of sorts across Europe, discovering long lost memories and signs of his parents. He discovers a painting created by his mother, a fountain where his parents kissed, and the tile in Greece his father used to propose. Damian leads him on the chase, always appearing on video chat one city ahead of him.
In truth, Damian has been going across Gotham, cleaning it up of the criminal element. He wants to show Batman that he is learning and following in his footsteps. He foils a criminal who created a fire resistant suit, who turns out to be the father of the criminal Batman apprehended. Unfortunately, he also manages to incur the wrath of one of the police officers at the same time.
Alfred uses the time to revisit his theatrical days and reacquaint himself with his former lover, Catherine.
At the end of the chase, Damian makes it to London just a touch too late to beat Bruce there, but Bruce reveals he knew the entire time that Damian wasn't in Europe, but that over the few days he's realized that he trusts him more than he realized and that the last three days were well-worth being duped by Damian.
At the end, they go watch Alfred perform Two Gentlemen of Verona at the Old Globe Theatre. Alfred storms out, denouncing Catherine as a shrill harpy who had the nerve to give him stage notes during the performance. With that, they leave London.
I'm torn on this issue because I think certain elements of it work well as a one and done, and others I wish had their own arc. I thoroughly enjoyed the way Bruce discovered the different things Damian had done for him as seen through the eyes of strangers. The writing of their relationship has smoothed out a lot over the last seventeen issues, and I hope this marks more of a turning point for them.
The art was a slight departure from Patrick Gleason's, but over all it fit with the story. I enjoyed Ardian's renderings of Europe and found it extremely interesting to see how he imagined Damian's future costume on current Damian. There were small details, like the milk in Damian's brandy glass, that made me appreciate how much he was considering Damian's character in writing this.
I'm looking forward to the new age this ushers in for Batman and Robin, so we'll see where it goes.
Batman and Robin Annual #1:
Reviewed by Melinda Hinman