And now the big finish!
Okay. . .not really big. And not really a finish. . .
BATMAN AND ROBIN
I have to say that I really liked this issue a lot, starting with the best cover in this series so far. Absolutely fantastic! This one is going on the "cover wall" in my mancave.
A new arc starts with a new team. That makes the 3rd writer and 10th artist in just 20 issues, for those keeping count.
The art is serviceable through the book and actually very nice in places. Not the best artist on this series, but not the worst.
The new writer captures the banter between our heroes better than any other so far. From a great opening sequence where Bruce, Damian, Dick, Tim Drake, and Alfred watch a movie together, to an autopsy scene where Commish Gordon tells Damian to not be a smartass in front of him and dead victims like the boss he is. This was probably one of the better issues of this run.
Another very nice issue. I'm liking this new writer's touch on Batman and Robin. There are nice scenes of them interacting with Commish Gordon again, as well as showing the team engaged in some actual detective work. This is more like how I pictured a Batman and Robin series would be. The artwork remains decent, and even shines in places, like Batman and Robin swinging to meet with Gordon against a backdrop of the Bat-Signal.
The villain seems a bit sketchy, though. . .with unexplained over the top powers. But other than that, this was a great issue.
A very nice wrap up to this arc in this issue. It takes place (mostly) in Arkham Asylum, so we get nice cameos from Batman's regular rogues gallery like Mr. Zsaz, Calendar Man, Mad Hatter, Killer Croc, who haven't been seen in this series. Once again, good character moments, great scenes of detective work, and nice interaction between the heroes make this one of the better issues of the run.
Unfortunately, the weak link is the villain. His motivation and origin are given to us in this issue, but his powers and how he got them are never explained and seem way more powerful than someone with his background should have. It's just sort of glossed over.
Still. . .weak sauce villain aside, this arc was more like I expected from Batman and Robin. Well done.
And another creative team steps in for this new arc. That makes 4 writers and 12 artists on this series now (2 artists on this issue).
This time out, we learn what became of Red Hood (Jason Todd) after being arrested during the first handful of issues in this run. Turns out he's been killing his way through prison trying to get a transfer so he can escape. Batman and Robin have been busy and sort of forgot about him until now, and they're like "He's killed HOW many people? WHAT?"
The character of Red Hood is MUCH better done than it was in Morrison's hands. It's pretty obvious they're moving him away from "Grim homicidal maniac" toward the "Wisecracking Punisher Lite" that he was in the New 52 "Red Hood and the Outlaws" series he starred in.
All in all, this is a very nice re-introduction to Jason Todd. This new writer carries on the much-improved dialogue and interaction between characters that started in the last arc. This was a good issue that I have no complaints at all about.
Too bad this series started to improve so much toward the end of its run. . .
The 13th artist on this series steps in on this issue. His art is darker and less "comic booky" than what we've seen in the last 10 or so issues, but it's very nice despite the lack of backgrounds.
This issue is mostly fighting as Batman and Robin team up with Red Hood to battle "The Zoo Crew". I'm not sure if they're the same Zoo Crew of Captain Carrot fame, but they're just as ridiculous, being animal/human hybrids that spring Red Hood from prison and capture his former sidekick (Scarlet) because their leader wants him to do. . .something. . .for her. It's all very unclear and I can't find on the internet where this all came from or where it went.
This issue is a drop in quality from the first one of this arc. There's still some good dialogue and character moments, and Red Hood suits up in a much-improved costume (that's halfway between the God-Awful "pillhead" version from earlier in this run and the one seen in "Red Hood and the Outlaws), but other than that, the plot of this issue is a bit of a mess.
Along with the artist from last issue, another one steps in for the back half of this one, making it 14 artists for 25 issues. Is that some sort of record?
That said, the artist on the back half is very much inferior and you can easily spot where he took over. No bueno.
The final story arc of this run (the last issue is a one and done) ends with a big battle between Batman, Robin, Red Hood, and. . .ninjas? I really have no idea what this was all about, and I searched the internet and couldn't solve the mystery of the plot in this arc. Maybe it was something else they had planned for Red Hood/Jason Todd before the New 52 wiped all the old stuff off the board. Red Hood and his sidekick, Scarlet escape at the end of it all, but the outfit he was wearing was never seen again, Scarlet was never seen again. The woman who sprung him from prison is never identified. The Zoo Crew is never explained, and where the hell do the ninjas fit in? Who knows? All I know is that in "Red Hood and the Outlaws" none of this is mentioned and he's suddenly friends with Arsenal and Starfire.
Unexplainable plot aside, there were some great character moments, especially for Jason Todd, some great dialogue, and nice art (in the front half). So this issue really wasn't bad.
And for the final issue of Batman and Robin vol. 1 yet ANOTHER artist and writer step in, making 5 writers and FIFTEEN artists for a 26 issue run.
The issue itself is really more of a "Batman Incorporated" tie-in than a series finale. It takes place in France and co-stars "Nightrunner", the French "Batman", who is really a good character with a nice look, but is sort of half-heartedly portrayed in this issue.
The story itself is a mess with a lot of psychedelic aspects to it. It all fell somewhat flat and felt more like a filler issue in the middle of a run than any sort of a finale. All in all a disappointing ending for this series.
And there you have it. All 26 issues of Batman and Robin (vol 1).
Overall, I found this to be a series that never really found its groove. 5 writers and 15 artists over the fairly short course of 26 issues tell that particular tale well enough. But it's not just that. What started out fairly strong quickly went off the rails as Grant Morrison turned this book into a vehicle for other projects. After he left, the following creative teams had to try and steer it onto another course, and they did pretty well at it. . .unfortunately, it was too little too late. With the New 52 quickly approaching, they ended it all on a filler issue.
A damn shame. This series COULD have been great.
I'd definitely suggest reading this series, even though parts of it were hard for me personally to get through. There was some great art and I really liked the Dick Grayson/Damian Wayne Batman and Robin team. It's just a shame that Morrison couldn't keep enough of a grip to understand that he was writing about crime-fighting vigilantes and not about the arcane mysteries in his mind.
Coming next. . .
After 26 issues of Batman and Robin, how about I switch things up a bit before I do another full series run? One shots! Hellboy, X, Wonder Woman, Wolverine, Red Sonja, Predator, Sgt. Rock, Star Wars and Punisher, oh my!
Be there or be square
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Issue # 5