In Review: Convergence Batman and Robin #2

One to pass on unless you're a Caped Crusader completest.

The covers: Meanstreak has grown to gigantic proportions and has the Dark Knight in one fist and the Boy Wonder in the other. The heroes are trying to beat the beast’s fists to expedite their escape, but it’s having no effect. An okay Main cover from Denys Cowan, Klaus Janson, and Chris Sotomayor, but it’s a generic image that looks tossed together. There’s an artistic splash of lines to create something of a background, but there’s an equal amount of empty space. This is meh. The Variant cover for this issue features the blue blob of nothingness moving to the left to allow the remainder of Frank Quietly’s Robin to be shown, and he’s not looking too happy for the experience. I’m really enjoying these covers designed by Chip Kidd and am scrambling to pick them up. Overall grades: Main C- and Variant A

The story: Batman, Robin, Scarlet, and Red Hood are standing atop a building with the Dark Knight giving a cardinal rule: “We don’t fight. Not because someone or something named Telos demands it.” The young pair of men respond with acidic sarcasm because the building is being swarmed by murderous dolls. Naturally, they start fighting. That pretty much sums up all of what “Father & Sons” by Ron Marz is; an excuse to have the four fight some villains. I’m all for having an entire issue devoted to a battle, but the villains they’re going against are so second stringers. Frankly, I’m surprised that it took so long for them to defeat the bad guys–and that’s not really a spoiler, is it? The foes they’re fighting are the Extremists, who are comprised of an overweight toddler of a man named the Carny who’s controlling the dolls, Death Angel, a generic dressed in black, svelte, long haired villainess, Meanstreak, a generic bulky hulk of a monster (who’s even called out in the text as being so!), and a corset wearing, short-haired blonde woman in a cape who swings a sword. Story-wise, this is filler. It goes through the expected motions of a fight scene, with the heroes winning, then losing, then uniting to ultimately triumph. Scarlet disappears from the final ten pages, saying nothing and shown only distantly being involved in the battle. This was a big oversight. Should could have been completely absent and the story been exactly the same. What is shown is the expected rivalry between the two male sidekicks who claim Batman as their own. The highpoint of the book are the final three pages, where Batman makes statements to each young man and another hero makes an unexpected appearance to add his two cents. I could have done with less fighting and more of this emotion, but this is the concluding chapter and things have to closed quickly. Overall grade: C-  

The art: This is what’s going to sell this book. Any book looks good when it’s penciled by Denys Cowan, but having it inked by superstars Klaus Janson and Joe Rubinstein only guarantees this book will be golden. The second page splash that shows the ocean of dolls attempting to overpower the heroes is wonderful. It shouldn’t look as it good as it does, since the concept is ridiculous, but these artisans make it work gloriously. Each fist thrown is illustrated like gods doing battle with demons. Page 5, another splash, shows all hour heroes paired off with a foe and this is how comic book melees should be shown. It’s an epic moment. There’s also an excellent double-page splash on 8 and 9 that shows how each battle is going, with Batman at the top squared off the monstrous Meanstreak. Page 12 is going to be the “Wow” scene where Batman is shown in his entirety, ready to deal more justice. As super as these heroes look, words must also be stated about the setting. It’s the top of the building, providing a realistic expectation of no backgrounds: it’s the top of building, there shouldn’t be much else to see but sky and other buildings in the distance. That doesn’t happen on this book. The first wave of antagonists were the dolls and their pieces are everywhere after the heroes have taken them out. Their mechanical innards decorate the ground in the most wonderfully perverse ways, and are shown as often as possible to remind readers this is not a “clean” fight. It’s a perfect inclusion that pros would remember to add, and I’m glad that these three icons did so. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The sky is a constant blue-green watercolor to suggest twilight and dawn; it’s not too dark, and it’s not to light–it’s just right for Gotham City. Having the setting stay in this perpetual in-between state allows Chris Sotomayor to mute the colors of everything, making this semi-dark evoke night, but allowing all the visuals to be seen. Looking at Page 2, the dolls are washed with a red to make them the embodiment of murder on stubby legs, but also be seen as a dark tide of terror. The coloring is the best on Carny, who’s the most comical looking of the villains. Putting him in darker tones makes his humorous appearance grotesque. When characters’ fists connect, the background explodes in orange or red, giving it the correct comic smash, and the sounds explode in bright colors, making the impacts sound bigger. This is an excellent job by Sotomayor. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Scene setting, dialogue, opening title and credits, growls, sounds, yells, and other exclamations are by Rob Leigh. I’m so happy to see sound effects in comics and Leigh is rendering them excellently, especially at the bottom of 13. Overall grade: A

The final line: A C-level story with A-level visuals. One to pass on unless you’re a Caped Crusader completest. Overall grade: B-

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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