In its basic outline, this adventure’s a variation on a theme that DC Comics writers have been using since “Batman Plays a Lone Hand” in 1942: Batman snaps at Robin to stay home for his own safety, Robin disobeys, and after their narrow triumph the partners realize how much they need each other.
This time that tale is sandwiched by a framing story involving memories of Damian Wayne, who becomes more pleasant and beloved the longer he’s dead.
The new villain, Tusk, is well designed as a nemesis for Dick Grayson. He’s huge, muscular, and ugly as all get-out. In contrast, Dick as Robin is thin, lithe, and very pretty. The action in the story works nicely, even if requires some suspension of disbelief or gravity, and is beautifully drawn by Mahnke. Tomasi scripts fine interplay between Dick, Bruce, and Alfred, the three characters who really matter.
This story also underscores the biggest change that the New 52 has made in the Dynamic Duo mythos: Dick is already nearly grown. He’s in his late teens during his first official mission as Robin. That’s about the age when he left Wayne Manor for the Titans in the last two continuities.
This Robin is no longer clearly the littlest guy in the fight as the character was in 1940, or in more recent retellings like Dark Victory and Robin: Year One. He has much less maturing to do. Accordingly, Bruce and Alfred must have much less influence on this version of Dick.
Robin’s status as a young adult is underscored by a panel in which Tusk is gripping the top of his head, apparently holding him off the ground. Except that this Robin is so tall already that his feet don’t fit inside the panel. Obviously he was never a Boy Wonder, always a Teen Wonder.
Next week brings a Batman Black and White story not beholding to the current continuity which promises a littler Robin early in his career.