Overview: In Batman and Robin and Howard, Damian Wayne is enrolled in a new school where he learns how to be a true friend, while Batman is tasked with solving a series of vandalism crimes at Gotham’s schools.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Batman and Robin and Howard opens in the night. A couple is afraid and having difficulty unlocking their car. On the rooftops sits Batman and Robin looking over the scene. Thinking the couple is trying to steal the car, Robin (Damian Wayne) jumps to action. Robin attacks the man and Batman jumps in. Batman helps the couple and explains to Robin that Robin jumped to conclusions. Furthermore, the repairs on the car roof caused by the Boy Wonder will come out of his allowance.
At the manor, Bruce and Damian discuss the evening and Damian’s new school. He is being transferred from Gotham Prep to Gotham Metro Academy. Alfred arrives with more food, and Bruce heads out on patrol without Damian, as his first day of school is the next day. Damian goes to sleep saying he is going to hate the new school.
Damian is alone in that thought. We meet Howard; he loves the school. We watch as he meets up with his friends and goes to class. The teacher gives a pop quiz on the extra credit reading, and Howard aces the quiz; he did the reading after all. At lunch, the kids get together, but they are interrupted by a commotion. Alfred is dropping off Damian, and he is going to be in Howard’s class. Howard decides to try to be his friend and offers Damian a desk next to his. The teacher suggests Howard show Damian around the school. During their conversation, Howard learns that Damian plays soccer and asks him to join the team. Damian does not just play soccer, he dominates soccer.
Batman and Robin and Howard continues the next day, as the kids gather for soccer practice after school. They do not have uniforms, so they resort to light and dark shirts. During school, the teacher talks to the kids about the different biological cells. Damian shows off his knowledge. At lunch, Damian sits with the kids, and they talk about Damian’s old school and soccer.
After school, the kids start practice; Howard and Damian are on opposite teams for the scrimmage. Damian shows off his skills and Howard decides that Damian is a show-off while Damian thinks Howard thinks he is better than he is. After practice, the kids discuss the team’s record. Gotham Metro is undefeated, but they also have not won a game. Alfred picks up Damian while the other kids take the bus. When Damian arrives home, Bruce is not home, so he and Alfred decide to have pizza. Alfred decides to play the recorded Victory League match and have a discussion with Damian about his new team.
At Howard’s home, he eats pizza with his mom and dad, and they all discuss Damian. Howard believes that the new kid is not a team player and he is cocky. His mom reminds him that Damian probably feels uncomfortable at the new school and is trying to prove himself. When Howard shares Damian’s name, he learns that he is Damian Wayne, the son of Bruce Wayne, and out the window, they see the Bat-signal.
At the manor, Batman steps into Damian’s bedroom to see him. They discuss the soccer team, and Bruce awkwardly leaves Damian alone to answer the signal. Batman arrives to talk to Gordon. Strange incidents have been happening at all the schools in the soccer league except Gotham Prep and Gotham Metro. Batman wonders if one of his enemies knows that Damian is Robin and jumps off to look into the case.
The class starts to work on their cell projects, and Damian joins Howard and his friends to discuss the project. During the conversation, Howard becomes more entrenched in his idea that Damian is a cocky know-it-all.
After school, the kids discover that the coach received a box. In the box are new team uniforms for the soccer team. Damian had them made. Damian sketched the uniform logo and gave it to the designer at Wayne Enterprises. They made them look professional. After practice, the kids gather at the local pizzeria and Damian leaves without paying. Howard looks for money and discovers that the pizzeria is owned by Bruce Wayne. Howard leaves a tip, which is something that Damian never does.
Batman starts his investigation by going to the targeted schools. He continues to believe that the culprit is one of his rogues. At school, Howard learns that he scored a perfect score on his test but Damian scored higher by adding extra information that was counted as extra credit. The two boys start to distance themselves from each other and compete with each other. This goes on in the classroom and the soccer field. Batman continues his investigation, and the kids start their first game with their new uniforms. The competition between the boys costs the team a win; they end up in a tie again. Damian accuses Howard of selfishly hogging the ball. Each decides that the other is a jerk
Batman arrives at Gotham Prep, and he goes into the utility closet. A man walks in wearing a coach’s hat and locks Batman inside. Damian vaguely talks about his parents to the kids at lunch. Damian arrives home and learns that his dad is not home. Alfred is not sure where he is. Batman decides that this might be the work of Talia, and his phone dies.
The next day in Batman and Robin and Howard, the boys’ rivalry comes to a head and ends with them in a fight. The principal decides not to suspend the two because a break is coming up. Howard’s dad picks him up, and Alfred comes for Damian. On the way home, Damian learns that Bruce is still missing. In the cave, Damian suits up as Robin, but he is stopped by Alfred.
Howard’s dad tells him to write an apology note to Damian, and when he arrives to deliver it, the mailbox falls off of the gate. Damian and Alfred find Howard with the broken mailbox. Inside the boys are still angry with each other, but Damian sees that his dog, Dribble, likes Howard. Alfred, after talking with Howard’s dad, tells the boys that they will work on their project together at the manor all week.
During the week, the boys start to understand each other a little better. The next day, Howard discovers that Damian has the prototype for the next-gen console and the two play. Batman is still locked in the closet. The day after, Howard finds Damian mowing the huge lawn with a manual lawnmower. He makes some adjustments and Damian is able to mow faster. Howard, in looking for sticks, finds a Batarang in the grass and pockets it.
The break is over, and the kids return to school. The others are surprised to find Damian and Howard acting like friends. The next game becomes the first game the team wins, and they now make it to the playoffs. The study group gathers in Wayne Manor to work on their cell project. Damian misses his father. The project is also successful, but Howard notices something is bothering Damian.
On the way home the two boys walk together, and Howard asks Damian what is wrong. Damian is not sure what he can say so he suggests the two play a video game. The two continue to talk. Damian admits that there is no one he can really talk to. Damian decides to tell Howard everything. Damian takes Howard down to the cave, and for a small moment, Howard thinks that Bruce Wayne is a vampire.
Damian finally says that Bruce is Batman and he is Robin. Alfred confronts the two boys in the cave. Alfred shares that Gordon told him what case Batman was working on, and the two boys decide to investigate themselves.
Damian gets Alfred to take him and Howard to Gotham Prep; there they find the trapped Batman. Damian admits to Batman that he told Howard everything. Batman is surprised but not angry at his son. The three leave in the Batmobile.
The final game finds Gotham Metro versus Gotham Prep. Bruce is at the game and he talks to the Prep coach. The coach is hoping for a championship and possible offers to coach at a higher level. The coach puts on his hat, and Bruce recognizes it as the hat the man who locked him in the closet was wearing. The vandalism was not caused by Talia or another supervillain but by this coach. Gotham Prep ends up winning the game and achieving their perfect season. The coach starts to get messages for job offers, and Bruce asks him if he has heard of the Arkham Asylums. The coach has not heard from them, but he will. Bruce tells Damian that his old coach was behind the sabotage and locking him up. It looks like the coach will have a new team after all in Arkham.
Analysis: Batman and Robin and Howard is a fun little story. The target audience is younger readers, and this looks like a fun little story with absolutely no violence and really no homicidal supervillains. The story centers on Damian and his new school and not any exploits as Robin.
The characterizations are definitely not the usual characterizations, and for this story that is fine. Damian is not a trained assassin. He is a little headstrong, and he does come off as a little egotistical. The moral of the story is that he sees the error of his ways, and the other main character, Howard, learns to see Damian in a different light. When these two spend time together, they learn that they are really not that different, and they start to become friends.
The art is very appropriate for this story found in Batman and Robin and Howard. It is a simplistic and very cartoony style. Damian is drawn completely off-model, and Batman looks more like the silver age version of the character with his grey and blue coloration. This choice helps remove this story from continuity and allows it to stand on its own.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Amazon.