With the demise of Bruce Wayne, a new Batman has stepped up to take over the mantle of the caped crusader. Dick Grayson. How does this new Batman fare? What does forum member, and long time Batman fan, Batmatt think? Well, find out as the newest member of the review team shares his thoughts on BATMAN AND ROBIN issues 1 and 2.
Batman and Robin 1 & 2:
To give a little background on myself, I started collecting comics in high school. A friend of mine took me to a hole in the wall second hand bookstore called Blue Moon Books. The store smelled of old parchment, not unlike the library. The owner had a wall of comics and I made my very first verbal contract and started with a subscription to Batman. This was during the introduction of Azrael the soon to be pretender to the cowl of Batman. During this time I became immersed in the DC universe and got to know many of the characters and their back stories. One such character was Nightwing as he moved out from under the shadow of the bat to break out in a new territory in the neighboring city of Blüdhaven. I really liked how Dick Grayson made the city his own, but when he was called back to take the cowl of Batman over during the prodigal son story arc I became disappointed in how the Dick Grayson character was written. He came across as whiny and unsure of himself and I could not wait for him to return to Blüdhaven so we could have Bruce Wayne back. Which did happen and I was able to enjoy Batman for many years until I stopped collecting comics for various reasons.
Steve asked me to review a comic for the site and this gave me the excuse to start collecting and reading the books I love. As I started reading Batman and Robin and I felt like Han Solo as he was released from his Carbonite prison “I’m out of it for a little while and everyone gets dilutions of grandeur.” BATMANS DEAD?!? Dick Grayson has once again taken over as Batman? Hang on while I clutch my chest and breathe deeply in to this paper bag. Oh and where is Tim Drake? Great now I have black spots floating in my vision.
I’m okay really I’m now over the shock.
The story starts out with a car chase and a new Batmobile that flies, very cool and Back to The Future-ish. The mantle of Robin has been given to Damien, Bruce’s son, who has a snotty attitude from the start which carries throughout the next issue. I am reminded of Jason Todd, who is the least liked Robin in the history of Batman. Damien and Todd share many traits, but I think Damien is smarter and more impulsive. These character traits land him in trouble later on in issue two. Batman and Robin take down a thug by the name of Mr. Toad; yes he looks like a walking frog. He is carrying a brief case full of dominos. This causes a big question mark with Batman and Robin. Toad is dropped off and given to the authorities. Then we go to a destroyed Batcave where Dick and Alfred are sifting through the remains and having a conversation about Dick being Batman. I started to worry a little right here and have flashbacks to “prodigal son,” but Alfred provides support with wisdom and strength for Dick to lean on.
One notable moment from this page is the panel of the gravestones as Alfred and Dick are leaving the grounds of Wayne manor. Next to Thomas and Martha’s marker is a headstone with no markings on it and the top is the silhouette of a batsymbol, it’s a nice touch. We are then treated to a view of the new Batcave under what looks like one of the Wayne towers. Poor Alfred now has to transverse 64 floors and then descends a ladder to deliver food to the Batcave. I was shocked that the elevator did not go all the way to the cave. I could not imagine balancing a silver tray in one hand and go down a ladder, Alfred’s got skills. Dick and Damien then leave to pay a visit to Commissioner Gordon also this is the first meeting with the police since Bruce’s death. When Dick and Damien reach the police station the department is attacked by some of Mr. Toad’s associates in a break out attempt. We leave the attack to be introduced to Niko who was with Mr. Toad during the car chase at the beginning of the story. Niko is overtaken in his home by creepy doll like people that all look alike. He is then tied to a table and is turned into one of the creepy doll people by the villain of this story. Whose name is Pyg; he looks like a crazed butcher wearing a pig mask.
Issue two starts with a flashback. On the first page Alfred is consoling Dick and asking what happened, on the floor is an “R” patch torn from Damien’s uniform. The flashback sequence starts with a meeting between Dick and Gordon on the rooftop of the police department. Gordon and his men are suspicious of Batman and Robin because they can tell they are not the original dynamic duo, but they go along with them as the call comes in about the attempted breakout. The team trying to break out Mr. Toad is as strange as he is. A man named Rex runs into the police department on fire and this causes confusion as the Fat Lady, “Big Top” launches gas into the building. Big Top, Rex and a trio of Siamese triplets enter the building. This is when Robin shows his impulsiveness by jumping right into the fight. He holds his own against the triplets for a ten year old. Robin backs off when Batman tells him to and then Robin starts to pursue Big Top. As he engages her he makes a reference to Jabba the Hut and then proceeds to get his butt handed to him. Batman takes out the triplets and then puts Rex out with a fire extinguisher. It is now very apparent that Mr. Toad and his cohorts are part of a sick group of crazy carneys. Gordon and his men find Robin beating the stuffing out of Big Top with a stick. Gordon basically tells Robin to stop or else. But Robin continues to beat Big Top over the head with a stick till Batman intervenes. It is then discovered that Mr. Toad is dead and in his hand is a single domino. The relevance of the domino is still unknown to me and I suspect it will come to light in later issues. Batman and Robin enter the Batcave arguing about methods for getting the job done. This escalates to Robin ripping off his “R” patch and leaves stating he will find a teacher he respects. This is when we come full circle to the beginning of issue two where Alfred is consoling Dick. He has a long conversation with Alfred about Damien, Gordon, and how being Batman does not feel right. Always the wise, Alfred comes to the rescue with sage advice to all of Dick’s issues and the final bit of advice is the most effective. Alfred tells Dick to go back to his roots as a performer and look at it as if it were a role like Hamlet, or James Bond, or Willie Loman. I was not sure who this was till I googled him, if you’re interested it’s the main character in Death of a Salesman. This is my favorite panel of issue two with Alfred holding Batman’s cowl in the same fashion that Hamlet held the skull of poor Yorick. I wonder if Alfred had been helping Dick out during the “prodigal son” story arc we may have never seen Bruce Wayne again. I am starting to like this version of Batman. I know, I know, I’m speaking blasphemy but I am starting to really like the direction of this story. I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid yet, but I am willing to keep an open mind for a while. By the way… Robin is getting mobbed by Pyg and his weirdo dolls.
Story – 5/5
Art – 6/5: Or an A+ very crisp and not too cartoony. My only criticism of the art work is the way Frank drew Big Top, that’s a lot of cellulite… yuck.