The spotlight in Batman and Robin Volume 2: Pearl is on Damian Wayne and his complicated and competitive relationships with his father and the past Boy Wonders. It collects issues #0 and 9 through 14 of the monthly title. The book is split into four different storylines which are equally engaging.
“Someday Never Comes” shows us the training of Damian Wayne by his mother Talia and the members of the League of Assassins. The young boy is put through the harshest trials and tribulations to make him stronger and undefeatable both mentally and physically. Damian is curious to know who his father is and Talia promises to tell him on the day he can defeat her in battle.
“Night of the Owls: Robin Hears a Hoo” pits the Boy Wonder against a vicious Talon commissioned to assassinate an Army and Air National Guard General. Damian comes to the rescue and must find a way to outwit and stop a super-powered killer with enough strength to single-handedly take out a squadron of armed military trainees. All of Batman’s closest allies are busy protecting other parts of Gotham, so Damian must hold his own against this supernatural butcher.
“Terminus: Scar of the Bat,” “Terminus: Branded,” and “Terminus: Last Gasp” feature a group of criminals brought together by one thing they all have in common. Each one has somehow been physically marred by Batman. Their leader, Terminus, is consumed with taking revenge on the Dark Knight before he dies from a strange condition he blames on Gotham City’s dark champion.
“Eclipsed” and “Devoured” has Batman and Robin facing off against a cannibalistic cult led by a mysterious hooded individual. They believe they must “Eat to Live!” As Batman races to discover the truth behind this bizarre zombielike outbreak, Robin finds himself the leader of a group of survivors who escaped being sacrificed by the cult. Who’s behind the cult and what are their true intentions? As if he doesn’t have enough problems, Damian also comes up against an assassin hired by his mother to kill him.
Writer Peter J. Tomasi keeps the reader engaged by simultaneously bringing humor and tragedy to life when examining the personal conflicts between Batman, his biological son, and the three men he took in and raised. His writing is engaging and encourages you to keep turning the pages until the very end. I also have to give him credit for coming up with one of the most touching final pages of a Batman title I’ve ever read.
Artists Patrick Gleason, Lee Garbett, Andy Clarke, and Tomas Giorello handle the penciling duties for Batman and Robin Volume 2: Pearl. Each one brings his own personal style to the table without looking so different it distracts from the overall tone of the collected issues. One of my favorite panels of the entire book is a group profile of Nightwing, Red Robin, Damian Wayne / Robin, and Red Hood all standing together looking up in the sky. Gleason truly crafted an image of the Boy Wonders suitable to be framed and hung on the wall of any fan’s office or study.
This collection features 17 pages of bonus material. Four pages of Peter J. Tomasi’s script for issue #0 are included. Four sections of colored pages are featured without narrative or word balloons. There are also character sketches and studies, layouts of page breakdowns, and more.
Batman and Robin Volume 2: Pearl is a memorable and exciting addition to any library dedicated to the Dark Knight. Its mix of action, adventure, emotion, drama, and humor really makes this essential reading. I’m a fan of almost all the Batman graphic novels and collected editions and this one really stood out as remarkable.