Robin and Zsasz in the child arena

Batman’s supervillains constantly have to find new ways to entertain themselves.  When every evildoer in the city just so happens to be a big ball of crazy, all the normal amoral activities have been done and then done again as a maze or inside a giant cake or something.  Luckily for Victor Zsasz, he has no problem recycling the classics:

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Child gladiators it is, then.  Three or four children fight each other, then get massacred by a grown man. A man pops the collar on his trench coat.  Today, as we explore Batman: Streets of Gotham #10-11, written by Paul Dini and drawn by Dustin Nguyen, I give you the one thing you’ve never asked for and never will — a team up with two ten year-old boys.

Specifically, these ten year-old boys:

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To keep Zsasz’s coffers full of tiny warriors, runaways and latch-key kids are getting constantly kidnapped by his henchmen.  Damian Wayne (Robin) and Colin Wilkes bump into each other investigating the same thing.  Never heard of Colin?  He’s only showed up in seven or eight issues ever but let’s give you some flashbacks anyway from Detective Comics #847-848, also written by Dini and drawn by Nguyen.  Apparently, child kidnapping occurs far more often than comfortable in Gotham City, because this time the Scarecrow’s gathering up a crop of orphans.

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In a reasonable plot twist, the poor kid has to battle the Dark Knight.

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I mean, Scarecrow gave him superpowers.  I don’t know how many unarmed, scared fifth graders Batman could take on at once, but I imagine the number has a buttload of zeroes.  Eventually, Batman takes out Colin the same way he takes out Bane.

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Now, despite an obvious record of child endangerment, Batman’s not about to leave the poor kid soaked in venom.  Unfortunately, even the Dark Knight’s not perfect, though so very close.

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Neat, right?  Like if Captain Marvel merged with Sin City.  As we get back to our story, Zsasz’s gang arrives to snatch up our protagonists, and they don’t even provide luxuries like candy or PS3.

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Usually this would be a slam dunk for Zsasz’s henchmen.  Definitely a raise, or at least not getting their throat slit when they get back to the arena.  Sadly for them, they tried to kidnap Robin.  A very angry. Robin.

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Leaving behind his new buddy, Damian rushes to battle the supervillain alone.  And normally, this wouldn’t be anything to fret about.  Zsasz has no superpowers, and Robin (having been trained since birth by the League of Assassins) has far beyond the needed ability to defeat Zsasz in combat. Normally.

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While the audience certainly doesn’t help, something’s weird about our supervillain.

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No reason ever gets provided for how Zsasz can slice up Damian without actually hitting him.  Or maybe he does, I don’t know.  With Robin thrown for a loop, only one man can save him now.  And by man, I mean child.

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When I mention that Colin (superhero name Abuse) saves Damian’s life, some readers may shrug apathetically, if just because he died a horrific (impalement) death a month or two ago.  Look, Damian’s obnoxious, arrogant, and wildly young — but over the three or so years he served as Robin, I think fans came around.  And not just because he’s Batman’s biological son.  The amount of growth and character development that ten year-old accomplished in such a short time truly is a phenomenal effort on the part of the writers, specifically Grant Morrison (who created him, made him Robin, and then killed him off).  Still, this arc’ll just have to serve as a flowery memorial on the gravesite of Damian Wayne adventures.

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This story wouldn’t have a proper ending if we didn’t get Zsasz round two.  Superheroes always get a second chance of victory after being humiliated by their respective supervillains.  That’s comic book writing 101.  Luckily for us, it’s awesome.

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Y’see, when superheroes get their rematch, they usually win with a fancy trick or surprise device, but Damian wins the combat by simply being the better fighter.  That’s what a decade of ninja-ing does, especially when one wields his first pair of nunchucks at the same time as being potty trained.  We end today with a melodramatic rant, because while Batman supervillains may not be super strong or super durable, they do possess a super flair for drama.

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Zsasz lives, of course, and Damian goes on to learn that maybe disemboweling his enemies might not be how Batman wants crime fighting done.  Colin doesn’t show up anymore, but have no fear, Gotham City will always have plenty of baddies for a monster child to punch — just off panel now.



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