Patrick Gleason has the rare opportunity among authors at the Big Two comic publishers to match his story exactly to his images, and he makes the most of it.  Gleason has long been known for his dream-like, nearly phantasmagoric tableaux.  He is one of the few artists who could convincingly sketch an expedition of the Bat Family to Apokalips and a return visit of the New Gods to the Bat Cave.  John Kalisz and Jeromy Cox support him with a color set notable for intense reddish undertones, while Mick Gray’s deep shadows add to the unworldly aura.  In Robin: Son of Batman #2, Gleason stretches his technique by adapting the lines and shapes of traditional South American pictographs as Damian struggles to atone for the first day of his Year of Blood by returning the head of a magical stone guardian that he stole from a forest village, leaving the inhabitants helpless before the depredations of a local drug cartel.

Unfortunately, not all of the aspects of Gleason’s art translate well into narrative.  His layouts are busy, crowded affairs, bursting at the borders with visual information.  This habit applied to writing leads to overly complex plots and layered, heavy exposition.  Many of the panels detailing Damian’s struggle with the guardian, which reanimates when he returns the head, are packed with words, and many of those words are, annoyingly, faux-translations from Spanish.  To make matters even more complex, the new Nobody, daughter of one of Damian’s victims, has arrived and insists on helping him with his mission.  Her motives, however, are intensely convoluted.  She insists that he atone for his misdeeds, which would seem to be in accord with his own wishes.  However, she desires to assist him so that she can kill him after he has completed his quest.  In order to get him to agree, she threatens to reveal the true extent of his misdeeds during the Year of Blood to the Justice League and the Bat Family.

Despite his problems with complicated plotlines, Gleason has a firm grasp of Damian’s voice.  His banter with his new companion is amusing and natural, as is his interactions with his gigantic mount, Goliath.  Gleason also continues to show a deft hand with dream sequences and flashbacks.  The issue begins with a memory of Damian and Talia which is layered and sensitive, providing a brief but convincing exploration of their complicated and ultimately tragic relationship.

Grade

B+

Conclusion

Gleason manages to largely keep the momentum that he established in his first issue, but there are worrying signs. His tendency toward overly complex plots and heavy-handed exposition could quickly weigh the story down, stalling Damian's adventures in a morass of plotlines and word-drenched panels. But such is as yet only a possibility, and any weakness in plot and setting is made up in the magical quality of Damian's voice and the sparkling dialogue that reveals so much of Robin's personality and his approach to important relationships. It is an early success, this second issue of the series, but a clear one.