writer: Lee Bermejo / artists: Jorge Corona, Rob Haynes, Khary Randolph / DC Comics
I’ve been waiting for this title to drop, and now that it is here I gotta tell you… I fucks with it. I fucks with it heavy. We got Lee Bermejo taking the reigns on this book with Duke Thomas as the lead. When we last saw the kid he was helping Batman back in Zero Year, and a bit older once that Endgame dropped. Now Duke is dealing with the fall out of Endgame with his parents missing and him having to move through foster homes. We got a lot of people watching Duke from the shadows — we already know they’re a part of something, what we don’t know is how or why. The focus on Duke and his current situation is a smart move on Bermejo’s part to get readers connected with the kid we’ve all been wanting to see more of.
You know he’s bound to be a Robin of some sort (as we saw in Future’s End and the current title) so you instantly start comparing him to those before him: does he move like Grayson, or have an attitude like Todd? A will like Stephanie or logical like Drake? The answer is none of the above (thank god). Duke is truly a unique character in that he clearly isn’t emulating anyone, and his predicament is forcing him to be the kind of person he is now; one that hasn’t been seen before in a Batman book, either. We see a lot of his backstory with how his parents raised him, especially his mother. That offers a very unique telling of a kid (maybe lower-middle or middle class) having a tight, caring, and diligent upbringing, now having to navigate and survive the narrows of Gotham in order to get his life back. The best thing about this is Duke’s choice to bet on himself and make things right without depending on the system. Given the current state of affairs for Black boys in America, it’s easy to understand his lack of trust or faith in the police to solve everything.
Corona, Haynes, and Randolph are fantastic with the artwork. Look at this shit ^^^ LOOK AT IT! They have a very unique look and feel to how Duke interacts with his environment, whether it’s fighting or using agility to move around. We know he’s trained to an extant, but it’s hard to determine in what, and for how long, and it’s apparent that the boy still lacks experience. They got Gotham looking gritty and dark per usual, but it feels like we’re seeing it from the eyes of a newcomer who’s just discovering how deep the rabbit holes go in this city. Although it’s been around for years, this art team gives Gotham a feel of being brand new. Also, the way the shadowy figures communicate via text as the captions? FUCKING GENIUS! We’re also seeing that the teens watching Duke’s back are rather diverse, and my favorite thing is that their vigilante fashion game is urban and straight up realistically fashionable! I LOVE IT! These are some vigilantes that are keeping it a ‘hunned.
I got that sleeper hit feeling with this book. I’ve been really longing for a good team book with a group of teens. With the way this title starts off visually, the upcoming arc looks very promising.