By Rob Siebert
THE ISSUE: Batman #688
CREATORS: Judd Winick (Author), Mark Bagley (Penciller), Rob Hunter (Inker), Ian Hannin (Colorist), Jared K. Fletcher (Letterer)
RELEASED: July 8, 2009. Collected in Batman: Long Shadows.
THE SCENE: Shortly after taking up the mantle of Batman, Dick Grayson trains with Damian Wayne, who has just become the new Robin.
WHY THEY’RE AWESOME: This scene has been hanging around in my subconscious for the near-decade since it was published.
On the surface, it’s not particularly remarkable. Just Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne training together. Sort of a Karate Kid scenario with Dick in the Mr. Miyagi role. But as Eric Bischoff might say, “context is king.” This issue came out shortly after Final Crisis, in which Bruce Wayne “died” at the hands of Darkseid. Thus, Dick Grayson has once again taken on the role of Batman, and Damian has become Robin.
Putting these two together was a perfect recipe for personality conflicts. Dick’s generally friendly and warm personality clashed with Damian’s defiant, abrasive, and often bratty disposition. Especially early on in their partnership.
But in Batman #688, Judd Winick took the time to balance the scales a little bit, and show us is indeed a qualified mentor for Damian. Not necessarily because of his fighting prowess, but the patience and wisdom years of experience have brought him. It’s a quality that can’t be taught, and one that makes for a damn good teacher.
I was working on a piece of fiction recently, with a scene that had a similar teacher/student premise. For whatever reason, I kept coming back to the line Dick has at the end of this scene: “Don’t anticipate.” I like that. Simple. Concise.
I know Judd Winick isn’t everybody’s favorite Batman writer. But more often than not, I really dug his stuff. Throw in the art by Mark Bagley, who’d just come off his legendary run on Ultimate Spider-Man, and these pages definitely have their fair share of awesomeness.
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