Writer, Artist, Letterer: Jeffrey Brown
Color Artist: Silvana Brys
Review by Steve J. Ray
Thank you, Jeffrey Brown, Silvana Brys, and DC Comics. Batman, Robin & Howard is one of the most fun reads out there, and a book that should be on every parent’s shelves. What we get is a tale of friendship, learning to trust and to always look beyond whatever assumptions a first impression may have given you.
Oh… we also get to see “Bored Batman”, which is truly one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.
From the opening pages, we see a Batman & Robin / Bruce & Damian Wayne relationship that both fits with everything we know about the characters, but also feels real world; with some of the best, and most natural dialogue, children, and family relationships I’ve ever seen on the comics page. Jeffrey Brown writes people and personalities beautifully, and his take on the Dynamic Duo is as fresh and fun – without feeling fake – as any reader could wish for.
Then you get the art, which at first glance looks like it was drawn by children; until you look deeper, feel the nuances, and absorb the expressions and body language. There’s some great comic book storytelling here. I will be completely honest and say that this style of art, or even this type of book, wouldn’t normally be the kind I’d pick up. Thankfully, as a reviewer, I frequently go against the grain and volunteer to review books I normally wouldn’t consider. I’m so glad I did with this one.
I love this kid. I want to read more about Howard… heck, I want to write about Howard! The way he sees Damian, the way he looks at life, his outlook, and his all-around vibe are inspiring. Is he perfect? No, not by any means, but he grows, adapts, and learns. I honestly believe that he’d make a great Robin!
Jeffrey Brown cleverly tells the story from both Damian and Howard’s point of view, and this is a revelation. It honestly took me back to my school days and rivalries of my own that also turned into friendships. I know I’m an old man now, but I would’ve loved to have owned this book as a 10-year-old. In fact, I intend to buy a few copies to pass onto friends with children of that age… that’s how great Batman, Robin & Howard is.
Oh… Batman’s in the book too
Rarely do I laugh out loud while reading, these days. This book, however, had me guffawing a few times. Jeffrey Brown’s Batman is as hilarious as his Bruce Wayne is heartwarming. With a few scenes and delicate lines of dialogue, Brown gives us a lovable “Dork Knight” and an adorable, if slightly awkward dad. Don’t get me wrong, this is no figure of fear or dark avenger of the night, but he’s every bit the detective and crime fighter fans have loved for decades. He’s also the paranoid, untrusting hero who sees villainous conspiracies everywhere, and the kind of character he needs to be to do his job properly.
Alfred makes great sandwiches. Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake have been saying this for years, and now so has Jeffrey Brown, through Howard. Why did I highlight this? Because this one line clearly shows Mr. Brown’s love for Batman, the Robins, and Alfred. This is a writer who’s clearly also a fan, and that shines through on every page of this book.
The fact that this entire story was written, drawn, and lettered by one person is wonderful. The one question I had was why he didn’t color it too. The good news is that Silvana Brys does such an amazing job, and her colors work with and elevate Brown’s line art so perfectly, that you’d think this was the singular vision of just one creator. These two talents work so well together and make such a fine team, that Batman and Robin, or even Robin and Howard, should feel jealous.
Batman, Robin & Howard is a joy to read. With Christmas and the holiday season around the corner, this graphic novel is right at the top of my list of gift recommendations. It’s a story that will make you think, feel, and laugh out loud. This is a book I will happily read again myself, but cannot wait to read to nieces, nephews, and to my friend’s kids too.
Buy it, it’s great.