Friday, June 5, 2009

Comics Review: Batman and Robin #1

Whoa! What the heck did I miss?

That was my first thought upon reading Issue #1 of Batman and Robin, a new monthly title written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Frank Quitely. Dick Grayson as Batman? What about Nightwing, his persona after he bequeathed the Robin costume to Jason Todd and Tim Drake. Then there's this Damien guy now dressed up as Robin. Where's Drake? And the issue comes under the overall heading of Batman: Reborn.

What?

Well, I have some catching up to do, that's for sure. I did a little research and Damien, it seems, is Bruce Wayne's real son, Wayne himself is missing/dead/I'm not sure, Dick Grayson has taken 'the mantle of the cowl' away from ...someone, and the two of them now operate in Gotham in a flying Batmobile. Yes, I said flying Batmobile.

The opening pages show a toad-guy driving a car through a tunnel. Enter the aforementioned Batmobile that looks like a red version of the helmet worn by Aquaman's arch-nemesis, Black Manta. As a huge fan of Cartoon Network's Batman: Brave and the Bold (where Bats is returned to his fun, comedic days), I can buy the flying Batmobile. Seems odd that they'd paint a giant red bat emblem on it but I can still buy it. Honestly, I can't help but wonder if it's a nod to Batman Beyond, the great cartoon series of the 1990s.

Anyway, the issue lays out the story lines pretty well. You get to see Damien interact with Alfred, you see Commissioner James Gordan back in action, you even get some of the backstory about Bruce Wayne and how much pressure Grayson's under to carry on the Bat mantle.

The issue ends way too abruptly, probably a result of the usual practice of story arcs being gathered into a trade paperback. We get to see a man dressed up in a pig mask doing some 'reconstructive surgery' on another guy. Guess we'll learn about that a bit later on. We also get introduced to another storyline with a guy, probably a baddie, who looks like Marvel's Human Torch but wearing clothes. Guess that storyline's for a later issue, too.

The artwork by Quitely is superb. It's a far cry from the comic art in the 70s and 80s. It looks like real people wearing real costumes and real shoes. There are a few shots of Grayson in the Batman costume where it looks, slightly, as if the costume's just a few inches too big. Is that some visual representation of Grayson's hesitancy? In terms of the writing, can't say for sure yet. The issue sets up everything and I haven't read a Morrison story before so I can't compare. I do have the trade version of Batman and Son which will, I hope, reveal the origin of Damien Wayne. I'll be reading that shortly.

Once I heard about this title being launched, I wanted to eschew my usual practice of waiting for the trades. I enjoyed the issue and I'm game for some revamping of the Batman storyline (Heck, we've seen it for James Bond and Star Trek, why not Batman?). He has been and will always be my favorite comic book character. I'm the kind of Bat-fan who can drool over "The Dark Knight" movie and then come home and watch the Brave and the Bold cartoon and enjoy both. I'm looking forward to seeing where this title goes.

And I want to know what happened to Bruce Wayne. Can anyone out there tell me which titles I need to read to figure out what happened to Wayne?

6 comments:

  1. I think the fate of Bruce Wayne has something to do with the "Batman R.I.P." series. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman_R.I.P.

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  2. I picked up R.I.P at the library and Batman and Son. Thanks for the link. Now, on to reading...

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  3. The situation with Wayne is a little...complicated. And also not complicated at, depending on how deep you want to go.

    In the pages of the bat-books he was given a send off of sorts with the RIP storyline. His actual fate is shown in FINAL CRISIS and expanded on a little bit in two issues if detective comics written by Neil Gaiman.

    I dont want to give to much away if you're catching up, but if you want my geek explanations drop me an email.

    Jay.

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  4. Jay - I'm going to read the ones I have and I'll let you fill in the gaps. Final Crisis is one I think the library has but I can't be sure.

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  5. Honestly, I've never been a huge fan of Bruce Wayne/Batman as he always seemed too dark. Given his background, that darkness was understandable. Ever since he became Nightwing, I've been a fan of Dick Grayson-- he's always struck me as "Batman with a sense of humor."

    The one thing I noticed about B&R 1 was a bit of a role reversal. With the Bruce Wayne/Dick Grayson combo-- there was a dark and brooding Batman with a lighthearted and fun Robin... Now there's a somewhat lighter Dick Grayson Batman with a rather dark and brooding Damien Wayne as Robin... Quite a switcheroo there.

    As for Tim Drake/Tim Wayne, have you checked out Red Robin #1 & #2 yet. I like the dark turn that Tim has taken. It gives him a bit more depth.

    For a bit of a fun background, if you can find it check out The New Teen Titans #39 I believe it came out in 1984 or 1985. It's Dick Grayson's final appearance as Robin... And his best pal, Wally quits as Kid Flash in the same issue. The cover remains one of my favorite comic covers-- brilliant in its stark white simplicity.

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  6. Just a quick heads up, B&R #3 comes out next Wednesday. I'm really looking forward to that and The Flash:Rebirth #4.

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