Sunday, August 8, 2010

Review: Batman and Robin

I finished reading the Deluxe Edition of Batman and Robin last night. It’s the first collected trade of Dick Grayson being Batman, and Damian being Robin. I had picked this title up when it came out in single issue form. I dropped it after the first issue. The reason being at the time was number one, I was mad that Bruce was dead. I knew when battle for the cowl started that Dick was the only real logical choice for Batman, but it still made me mad. I was kinda hoping for someone to be like,”Sorry guys, we were just screwing with you. “ Of course, they didn’t, so I was still fairly angered by the fact that there was a new Batman in town. Until recently, I hadn’t given much thought on to how I felt about Robin, really, any of the Robins. I hadn’t realize there had been four to date already. But I did like Damian. The kid was alright. And that was one of the reasons I picked up Batman and Robin to begin with, plus you have to get everything a shot right?

So, dropped after one issue. Damian wasn’t his usual smart ass self, Dick was whining too much, and the villains! I hated the villains. There was just something about the villains that I despised right off the bat. I think it was the bright colors. The silliness of them. I still don’t like the first arc’s villains after reading the trade, but I did enjoy seeing Jason Todd as a villain in the Red Hood arc. Even if the Red Hood outfit get up is absurd. That helmet is awful. I preferred the version in “Under the Hood.” Scarlett was okay. Her story was simple, but it wrapped up much too quickly, almost too nicely as well. Will she be back? People just don’t go from being a mass murderer to “I’m okay with the fact some guy ruined my life, I killed my own father and a lot of other people, now I can move on with my life” just because a mask fell off. Psychological issues are more than skin deep.

Giving it a second shot, I understand what is trying to be accomplished. Morrison is giving Grayson his own Rogues Gallery. An excellent idea, but I’ll always love the classics. Every once in a while, a new villain can be introduced that falls right into the story. A villain that just makes sense. I don’t think that happens a lot. And that’s where we get a lot of the secondary villains. You know the ones, Orca and Roxy Rocket, the Film Freak and Kite Man. To me, Professor Pyg will become one of ‘the lesser known foes’ in the Batman universe. Perhaps only remembered because he was Grayson’s first villain and the dancing before the kill number.

Damian seemed to have more life breathed into him as the book progressed and by the end, I was satisfied that he would be back to his overly critical and sarcastic self in the next trade they release. I also read Streets of Gotham and Batgirl, which Damian has appeared in, and I find his character much more enjoyable in those books.
Another aspect that seemed off was the art. Don’t get me wrong, I love Frank Quietly. The man can draw. But not Batman. His drawing is better suited to superman, the ever humble boy scout of the DC Universe (I completely dislike Superman, the only thing good from him, is the fact that he has Kara for a cousin). There is where I had another problem with the colors as well. Batman is not about bright colors. At least not anymore. Maybe when the Dark Knight began his crusade on crime it was all about the colors and the jokes. But not now, we’re here for the brooding and the darkened streets. For the shadows and danger. When Phillip Tan took over the job of illustrating, I was relieved. His style is much better suited to Batman’s theme. Again, I enjoyed the second half better style and art wise.
Overall, I enjoyed the read. It was a little rough to begin with, but I suppose you could translate that into a metaphor for Dick becoming Batman being rough as well. I still enjoy reading Streets of Gotham more, and I quit reading Detective Comics when it became centered on Batwoman (no problem with her, I just have other priorities in the Batman universe). But overall, I think Dick is making an awesome Batman, and Damian an excellent Robin. Of course, once I came to terms with that, they announced the Return of Bruce Wayne. Which, we all knew was going to happen anyway because no one stays dead in comics. And now I’m torn again. I missed Bruce when he left, but now I’ve fallen in love with a new Batman. Will Dick just go back to being Nightwing? Will Damian stay Robin? What about Tim? What happens to Stephanie when Bruce finds out she’s fighting crime again? Catwoman? Jason? Hush? Maybe we will have two Batmans. And then a fan war will start between the Grayson fans and the Bruce fans. So many questions for something that I finally became comfortable with.

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