Welcome to a series with a Robin that has to be restrained from killing people, a substitute Batman who just want to go back to his old job, and a flying Batmobile!
BATMAN AND ROBIN
I'll get this right out of the way. . .I am not one that thinks Grant Morrison is a gift from the comic gods to us poor earthlings. Truthfully, I think the man is insane, and not a great choice to write Batman. I find his "Return of Bruce Wayne" mini-series as one of the top 5 worst modern Batman stories.
THAT SAID. . .
I think he did a great job on this issue. For Morrison, it's pretty straightforward and doesn't heavily rely on past material. A very pleasant surprise for someone not a Morrison fan (I didn't realize he wrote this run. I got these in a big batch of comics from an auction not long ago and hadn't read them until now).
The art by Quitely is stellar, with a few exceptions. He seems to have trouble drawing the Batmobile, making it look like the size of a VW Beetle in some panels. Other than that, the art really makes this book. I especially liked the way he incorporated sound effects into the art itself. . .for example, the WHOOSH of a missile being fired is rendered in flame and smoke. Very unusual and awesome! And just look at that cover! Outstanding.
All in all, this was a fantastic first issue and I have high hopes for the rest of the series.
A second strong issue out of the gate. I'm still pleasantly surprised that Morrison is somehow managing to write a pretty straightforward story here. The art by Quitely remains superb. In particular, the opening page and an off the hook fantastic fight scene stand out. But for some reason, he still can't seem to get the scale of the new Batmobile down. In one panel, it looks like a tiny clown car next to Robin. Other than that, the art is truly outstanding.
Speaking of the new flying Batmobile. It just seems a little much. I'd expect a flying Batmobile in Batman Beyond, but here it just seems out of place. . .
Another strong issue as the first arc comes to an end. I have to say that Professor Pyg is truly one of the most disturbing villains I've seen in Batman. Like Damien says in the issue, "You just redefined wrong." I really like the dark, horrific feel I think this series is going for.
I just hope Morrison can keep a grip and not go flying off into his mind (and expecting readers to know where he's going) like he tends to do. But so far, so good.
A new arc starts with a new artist and possibly the worst version of Jason Todd/Red Hood I've seen.
I guess I got spoiled by the Quitely art on the past three issues, and don't appreciate the old "superstar artist hooks you in, but leaves after a very limited run" trick, but the new art just seems. . .there. Very average. Not that it's bad. It's just not great. I hate it when comic companies pull that crap.
Other than that, the "Dark" version of Batman and Robin just seem a little weak. . .but at least Morrison is still keeping it pretty steady on.
Grant Morrison keeps a steady hand on the wheel for 5 issues in a row. I would have never thought him capable of such a feat. Unfortunately, I know it's only a matter of time before his insanity takes over. . .but for now, I'm liking a straightforward story from him for once.
The art, on the other hand. . .Tan has a real problem with faces. It's really distracting when Jason Todd looks like a 45 year old guy. He doesn't do much better on Dick Grayson of Damian Wayne either. They all look extremely old. No bueno.
This arc concluded nicely. Morrison guided it in with a firm hand and a pretty straightforward (for him) story about two teams trying to accomplish the same thing by different methods. It's the old "Do the ends justify the means?" question. I am pleasantly surprised to find Morrison still on a steady path 6 issues and two arcs in.
Unfortunately. . .I see a swerve coming as, at the end of this issue, Dick Grayson utters those God-awful words I never thought I'd see again. . . "Zur-En-Arrh". God, no. . .please, no.
Annnnnnd. . .here we go. Morrison somehow managed to go 6 issues before he started losing his grip. We're not in full-on Morrison insanity-land just yet, but we're on the way.
Batman (sans Robin, who was paralyzed last issue and getting a nice new spine courtesy of Al-Ghul Medical insurance) heads to England for a teamup with Knight and Squire while he tries to find a Lazarus Pit to raise Bruce Wayne from the dead. And Batwoman shows up by coincidence in England for. . .reasons?
The artist changes for the third time in 7 issues. Never a good sign. At least this artist can draw faces. It's a simple, clean, almost cartoony style, but I sort of like it.
Most of this issue was a big fight scene between Knight, Squire, Batman, and Batwoman against the insane resurrected Batman, who Dick Grayson realizes. . .SURPRISE! isn't the real Bruce Wayne, and a sincere apology is due Tim Drake.
At least since most of this issue is fighting, Morrison doesn't swerve too far into his mind. . .yet. Plus the art was pretty good. I like this artist's rendition of Batwoman a lot, even though she doesn't really have a great reason for being there in the first place.
Zombie Batman. . .who turns out to be a clone grown by Darkseid to fool everyone into thinking Batman was dead so he could throw him back in time (Why Morrison? WHY?) manages to fly a jet to Gotham, but can barely utter a coherent sentence in a baffling leap of what I'll just call "Morrison Logic". That and a ridiculous rescue of wheelchair-bound Robin tossed off a roof by Batman who just HAPPENED to swing by at JUST the perfect moment.
The ending to this arc was weak and seems like an excuse for Morrison to put Knight and Squire into another story. At the end, Dick Grayson admits that the real Bruce Wayne must be out there somewhere.
Please, God. . .don't let this tie in with "Return of Bruce Wayne". PLEASE!
Sweet baby Jesus! Please, God. . .WHY?
I pop this issue out of the box and am greeted with a big "The Return Of Bruce Wayne Starts Here!" on the cover.
That and the 4th artist in 10 issues does not bode well at all. I wonder why they couldn't keep a steady artist on this series.
Annnnnnd. . .as promised, this issue ties into the God-Awful "Return of Bruce Wayne" and we go into full-on Morrison Madness as Dick and Damian explore Wayne Manor searching for clues and discover a hidden passage leading to a secret Batcave.
All the "Hey, how come nobody noticed any of this stuff before?" nonsense aside, I really like the new artist. His work reminds me a little of Brian Bolland.
Hopefully, this will only go on for 3 issues, like the other arcs have. . .
And there you have it. The first 10 issues of Batman and Robin.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Grant Morrison CAN write a straightforward story. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before he decended into his usual rabbit hole of obscure references to long past continuity, reliance on his own previously published material, and obtuse hint dropping at something greater to come. God but this man loves himself.
Still. . .we got 2 arcs and 6 solid issues of good, straightforward storytelling. That was really more than I expected when I saw who the writer of this series was. The problem is that those 6 issues only make up 1/3 of the total run.
Coming next. . .
How far down the rabbit hole will Grant Morrison take us as he writes what SHOULD be the fairly simple adventures of two vigilantes in the big city? More Batman and Robin. Be there or be square!
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Issue # 30