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Wednesday June 3, 2009 8:53 pm

DC Comics Review: Batman and Robin #1

Posted by David Torres Categories: Reviews, DC Comics,


Rating: *** 1/2*

The new era of the Batman begins today in Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely “Batman and Robin”. As any reader of Comix 411 knows, I have not been kind to Mr Morrison and his work on the “Batman” title and the miniseries “Final Crisis” over the past year. Where many readers and other comic book reviewers have given him praise, I have been one of the few who have disliked the stories that Mr Morrison has laid out before us. I made a promise to myself that if I didn’t like the first issue of “Batman and Robin,” I would drop it immediately and not even give it a second chance. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t expecting to like it, but for whatever the reason, I will be collecting this title because this first issue was great!

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I really liked the story that Grant Morrison has set up here. It’s different. It’s certainly not the Batman we have known over the years and not simply because of the new people in the roles of Batman and Robin. The one negative thing about this book is Mr Quitely artwork. I’m not a huge fan of Frank Quitely. Although there are certain times that I’ve seen him draw some cool images, overall his work on a full 22 page comic usually leaves me wanting a much more traditional artist’s interpretation of comic characters - someone like Andy Kubert. I know Mr. Quitely will not be penciling every issue of “Batman and Robin” because he’s slow and can’t keep up the monthly pace of a comic book so I hope DC will give Andy a shot to fill in. I do like the splash page where Mr Quitley has the new Batman and Robin jumping out of the flying Batmobile. Yup, the new Batman and Robin have a flying Batmobile. There’s that and more.

Lets begin….

The flying Batmobile wasn’t a surprise to me. I believe I read on Newsarama there was going to be a flying Batmobile. I prefer a Batmobile that is just simply a car, but I can understand the evolution to flight for the Batmobile. A new Batmobile alos premiered in Morrison’s “Batman: RIP”. I guess Bruce really must be a rich man in order to afford to make all of these new vehicles. I wonder now that Bruce is “dead” who has inherited his money? Is Bruce Wayne dead to the world of the DC Universe? If he is, I would assume his money would go to Tim as he was officially adopted by Bruce Wayne prior to his “death”. Also where is Tim? I’m assuming we’ll find out in “Red Robin” next week because I think it’s safe to say he’s the new Red Robin. Tim’s mentioned in this issue as Dick playfully threatens Damian that he doesn’t correct his behavior, he will give Tim his old job back.

One of the things we didn’t see in “Battle for the Cowl” was the transition of Damian becoming Robin. Why did Tim leave? Did Dick ask him to or did he leave on his own. The ongoing plot of the new “Red Robin” series is the trek Red Robin takes on as he still believes Bruce is alive. Hopefully they show the transition of Damian into Robin in a flashback of some sort. Judd Winick’s first issue on “Batman” hits the stands next week and the solicitations say it’s an epilogue to “Battle for the Cowl” so maybe we’ll see it there.

This issue’s plot centers around a group of new villains called the “Circus of Strange”. A very cool name that fits into the Batman mythos and his rogues gallery. Batman and Robin are shown chasing one of the Circus’ members who’s called Toad. Toad looks exactly like his namesake. During their interrogation of him, Toad uses some European circus slang which is the first clue to their first case as the new dynamic duo.

The new Batman and Robin so far are an interesting duo. Damian is as arrogant as ever and refers to Alfred simply as Pennyworth and looks at him more as a servant than a member of the family as Dick and everyone else looks at him. Damian is also very smart. It’s his knowledge that enables them to get the new Batmobile up and running. Although he is partners with Dick Grayson, he still doesn’t truly respect Dick and is even ready to cast him aside if Dick is not willing to continue the work of his father Bruce. Damian is different than what we’ve seen in Tim Drake’s Robin over the past years. He seems to be more in line with Jason Todd and his attitude. Who from what we see at the end of the issue’s teaser, may very well be popping up again in the near future. I wonder if when Bruce returns (and he will) will DC have Damian align himself with Jason as a rogue version of Batman and Robin?

The Circus of Strange’s leader is revealed at the end of the issue. Their leader is a man named Pyg who dresses up more like a butcher than someone from the circus and wears a pig mask. He along with his cohorts, break into an apartment in Gotham and torture a man and his daughter. The other Circus members are all wearing doll masks and Pyg burns the mask onto the man’s face as his daughter watches. He tells the man whose name is Niko that he’s been bad and that he will make him perfect as he is handed a power saw by one of the circus members. We end there. Very creepy. It’s very hard to make a new villain that fans will embrace when it comes to long established comic book characters like Batman. So far I like the Circus of Strange and want to see more of them.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a teaser at the end of the book. The teaser is a full page showing four single panels of events that will be taking place in the upcoming issues of “Batman and Robin”. One panel has Robin swinging away from Batman with something on the floor between them. A new costumed Red Hood along with a female sidekick will be making an appearance. I’m assuming its Jason Todd along with a female Robin. Who is it? The next panel has Batman and Batwoman battling each other with a ghostly figure of another Batman (Bruce?) ascending from a pit of fire. Last we have what appears to be the return of Dr. Simon Hurt from “Batman: RIP” holding the keys to Wayne Manor. I also forgot to mention that Dick has closed down Wayne Manor and has moved the Batcave to the basement of a skyscraper in Gotham.

I’m very excited by this issue and all of the upcoming stories that Morrison has planned. I can’t believe I’m saying all of this because after reading “Batman: RIP” and “Final Crisis,” I thought there would be no way I’d like anything Morrison would end up doing with the Batman character. But from what I’ve seen so far, my juices are fpumping and I’m excited about what we’ll be seeing next. How long will DC have Dick in the cowl and how and when will Bruce return?  If Morrison can follow in the footsteps and do what Ed Brubaker has done with Captain America, I say leave Bruce alone for a while and lets see Dick as Batman for the foreseeable future. This is truly Batman reborn and its damn good reading.



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