Batman and Robin #4 continues with the creative team of Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, joined by Mick Gray on inks.
Picking up with the events of the last issue, Batman and Robin are watching a film of Batman's apprehended rogues, all of whom the narrator deems slime that should have died rather than be imprisoned. He claims Batman was reactive instead of proactive, letting the crazies dictate the agenda. Morgan asks how long Batman intends to lock them away and simply pray they never get out.
Batman says he doesn't need to become a monster in order to fight the monsters. Morgan says he's a hunter, but Batman claims he's just a psychopath and he's less honest about it. Morgan says the psychopaths give themselves colorful names, he's simply Nobody. Morgan/Nobody asks why they're still alive if Batman has any loyalty to his victims.
Nobody continues his tirade, wondering about the legacy this leaves for Damian, telling Batman he knows what's in Damian's heart and that he'll embrace and nurture his god-given talents. They return to the point at hand, which is that Batman has squandered resources upholding a moral code that isn't viable.
Morgan hoped the intervention would go better than this, that they could work together as Ducard envisioned all those years ago. According to Batman, the only thing they were supposed to do together was kill and collect a paycheck. As Morgan prepares to kill Batman, Damian weakly asks him not to. When prompted for last words, Batman responds with "lock and load, Alfred."
The Batplane targets Morgan and shoots him several times in the back of his armor. Alfred uses his strong heat signature to track and continue to fire, with rubber bullets. Batman frees himself and Robin, with Robin saying he needs to be taught that move (referring to the nerve pinch from the last issue that has left him immobile for most of this one).
Needing cover, Morgan blows up a gas tanker, which Batman and Robin manage to escape from. With the heat so high, Alfred is unable to continue to track the heat signature, and Batman concludes he's already planning his next attack.
While Alfred patches Bruce up in the Batcave, Damian pesters Bruce to learn the move that rendered him comatose. When Bruce explains that the move has to be executed perfectly or it will kill someone and Damian has enough of those moves, Damian complains that's just another rule. Bruce says he doesn't ask for much, but Damian begs to differ. Bruce explains he only asks for three things: keep your mind and body healthy, excel at your studies, and listen to what he has to say. When Damian says that means obey, Bruce says that's his interpretation but that it boils down to respect and if Damian doesn't respect Bruce, he'll never learn to respect himself.
When Damian asks if Bruce respects him, Bruce says that he can't respect him if he doesn't trust him. This leads into Bruce telling Damian a tiny bit his history with Nobody, because information is important. Morgan Ducard is Henri Ducard's son, Henri being one of the six Batman trained with. Unfortunately, that's all he shares.
Damian storms out and leaves Alfred and Bruce to talk. Alfred explains that for the first time, Damian seems to have realized how human Bruce really is. Outside, Damian tells Thomas and Martha what an ass their son is. He ends up squishing a firefly before the dog approaches him. He ends up giving the dog the name Titus when Morgan approaches him. He says he won't hold back, but that he expects the same from Damian. He reminds Damian that he didn't tell Bruce about why one of those people in the alley ended up dead, and now Damian has a lot to think about. The issue ends with Damian closing his fist around a firefly.
I've been hard on this series, in part because I had such high hopes for it. I feel like waiting this long has paid off. Damian's character has really fleshed out, particularly within this issue. I'm finally seeing the whole relationship dynamic start to play out. I've always enjoyed the art, so I'm happy to see the story catch up to it. If I were to pick one criticism from this issue, it would be that the argument from the start of the issue felt like it went a touch too long.
Reviewed by Melinda Hinman