The Elseworlds tales are some of the best stories DC has ever published.  Sometimes readers and creators want to put aside the strictures of continuity and setting to explore sheer possibility.  From time to time it seems that characters long to escape the confines of their origins and even their personalities in order to experience the freedom of different universes, different timelines, different realities. Batman and Robin supposedly takes place within the main continuity of the DC Universe.  Yet, ever since the quest to return Damian Wayne to life began in earnest the title has been suffused with an otherworldly feel, as if it is a half-step to the side of the rest of the DCU.  Now that Damian has returned sporting super powers, that feeling has grown especially intense.

Peter Tomasi has long used Batman and Robin as a vehicle to explore the relationship between fathers and sons.  The death of Damian interrupted that examination in exchange for a grieving arc that went on far too long and that was, frankly, neither interesting in concept nor impressive in execution.  Damian’s resurrection offers a chance for a rebirth of the title as well as the character, and Tomasi delivers in this issue, at the expense of essentially removing the book from mainline continuity.

What do I mean by that?  Well, when, exactly, does this take place?  Before Batman Eternal?  Why has Damian not appeared in that title, and why has his return not been mentioned?  After Batman Eternal? Why is Bruce Wayne living in Wayne Manor, the confiscation of which is a main plot point in the weekly series?  And that is without even referencing the question that has launched a thousand Tumblr posts, which is why Damian has not asked about the supposed death of Dick Grayson.

Leaving aside the questions of continuity, however, the story is very entertaining.  Damian is adjusting to his powers with the verve that one would expect of a precocious child.  Batman’s reaction, on the other hand, is both more subdued and more humorous than one might imagine.  Tomasi seems to be participating in the welcome turn of the Gotham books away from the grim and dark tone that has dominated this corner of the DCU for far too long.

Damian’s characterization also proves more sensitive than one might expect.  His memories of Dick Grayson may be lacking, but his memories of his mother are quite intact and troubling.  And his final actions toward relatives of his are sensitive and humane in ways that show death and life have led to profound growth for the erstwhile assassin.

Patrick Gleason’s squarish figures and Mick Gray’s deep, sometimes almost fierce, inks add to the dreamlike, otherworldly air of the tale.  When Batman was on Apokalips this effect made the surroundings seem alien.  Now, it underscores the Elseworlds quality of the title.  John Kalisz’s lurid red-shifted colors add to the effect.




Damian is back, but is he really in the main DCU? It's hard to believe in this tale that seems an Elseworlds fable. But whatever world this is, it is amusing and touching, and most welcome. If Damian is not in the main continuity, let us hope he finds his way there through clear skies faster than a speeding bullet.