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Comic Book Review: "Batman And Robin #9: Robin Hears A Hoo"
The adventures of the Dynamic Duo take an odd turn when the onslaught of the Talons (in the "Night Of the Owls”) crosses over into the pages of “Batman and Robin”. Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s biological son with Talia Al Ghul, is the current Boy Wonder. A born assassin trained by the League of Assassins (lead by his grandfather, the immortal Ra’s Al Ghul); Damian is a dark and brooding Robin—quick to violence and anger. In “Night of the Owls: Robin Hears A Hoo”, written by Peter J. Tomasi, with art by Lee Garbett, Andy Clarke, Ray McCarthy, and Keith Champagne, Damian must fight to protect one of the Court of Owls targets, General Burrows, alone, while his father is trapped in the Batcave. Robin comes face to face with a Talon and sees an odd similarity between himself and the undead assassin.
At 7:38 p.m. during the Night Of The Owls, Robin is searching the sewers. He receives the distress call from Alfred. Damian tells him he’s on his way back to the Batcave to help. Alfred tells him it’s more important for him to go and protect General Burrows (the commander of the state troops used for local disaster relief) from a Talon. Damian is the closest to him. Robin uses a jetpack to fly to the coordinates of the general at a nearby training site in the woods.
General Burrows is overseeing some night training of his troops on top of a viewing tower with a few officers. Suddenly, a Talon swiftly kills a dozen of soldiers below. Robin arrives from the sky and explains the situation to Burrows. At first, the general doesn’t believe him; the Court of Owls is just a fairytale. He plans to get down from the tower, and figure out what is really going on, but the Talon attacks the group.
General Burrows doesn’t want to leave his men, but Damian explains that his jetpack can’t take the weight of more than the two of them. His men tell him to go and he relents. As they fly off the Talon kills his men. He sees them flying away. He jumps for the jetpack and grabs on. Damian hits him with a Batarang. The jet crashes. The Talon falls into a tree, while Damian and Burrows fall to the ground.
The general’s leg is broken. Damian asks where his command post is; it’s five miles northwest. The Talon is following them; so they need to move fast before he catches them.
A battalion of soldiers are searching for the Burrows and Damian. When they find them, Robin says they need to take up defensive positions. He takes charge of the squad as the Talon silently picks off the troops one by one from the shadows.
After they run out of ammo, the soldiers fix bayonets and charge the Talon. He defeats all of them; Damian is thrown aside. The Talon approaches General Burrows, ready to kill him. He says that 236 years is a long time to wait to atone for a mistake and calls him, “Wilkins”.
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The Talon explains that in 1778 Edwin Wilkins was to be awarded a huge land grant if he succeeded in a mission for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War; he succeeds. This Talon was called on to kill him and all his relatives so that the Court of Owls could buy up the land without legal difficulty. He killed all but one of the children and he was raised by the Burrows family. General Burrows was actually a descendant of Edwin Wilkins. Now, two centuries later, the Talon intends to finish the job.
Robin fires a grappling hook into the Talon’s head through his eye. He throws the cable over a tree branch and hangs him up. Damian tells the Talon that he was used by the Court of Owls in the same way that he, himself, was used by his mother and the League of Assassins.
The Talon proclaims that he will finish his mission. Damian grabs a sword and decapitates the Talon; leaving his head hanging from the branch. General Burrows asks if it’s dead; Damian replies that it died a long time ago.
Who is your favorite Robin?
Damian’s solo adventure against the Talon brings out the strongest of his traits: He seems to be equal parts Batman, Jason Todd and Tim Drake. He’s cold and calculating like Bruce, he’s bitter and hard-edged like Jason and he’s clever and ingenious like Drake. Of course, being trained to be an effective killer does make his tactics quite brutal. The fact that he sees a correlation between the Court of Owls and the League of Assassins is interesting. Damian can see the strong difference between freewill and blind obedience. When Burrows asks Robins if the Talon was dead; Robin replies he “died a long time ago”. He could mean that the Talons are undead, zombie-like, killing machines. But what he really means is that when you’re used by someone else, you die; in essence, you lose your life; your humanity and self-control. The "Night Of The Owls” continues throughout the rest of the bat-titles; this issue give that small insight into Damian Wayne’s battle tactics and his psyche about being used as someone else’s weapon.