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To the Matt Cave: Batman and Robin #4 Reviewed!

22

Oct

Posted by Steve

Batmatt is back with his take on Batman and Robin #4 check it out:

I was well-pleased with issue 4 of Batman and Robin. The last issue was iffy with the tie up of the Pyg story arc and the introduction of Red Hood.

Batmanandrobin4.jpgI must now change my tune and say Grant Morrison is The Man. I don’t know what happened last issue maybe he was asleep, but he woke up. Don’t get me wrong.   I’m not trying to be hyper critical but the last issue was not my favorite.  Enough with the old, now on to the new:

Issue 4 starts out by introducing a new baddie  by the name of Lightning Bug. He is a thug running a protection racket backed up by some cool gadgets to help intimidate.  He gets scared off by Batman and Robin then runs into the Red Hood and Scarlet.   Scarlet is Sasha the unfinished Dollotron from previous issues, and she is now a psychopathic sidekick.  She clocks Lightning Bug and the Red Hood shoots him but does not kill him.   No, not yet, he has to check his iPhone and update his Twitter account.

“Excuse me, but I need to change my status  update to ‘murdering a wanna-be supervillain.’”

He then shoots Lightning Bug and tosses him out a window.   Bad guy has ceased to be, he is no MORE.

Batman and Robin are a little late to the action, because apparently they had to make a latte stop, and when they arrive it is raining bad guys and money. Floating down with the money is a red business card that Batman snatches from the air and it reads “vengeance arms against his red right hand.”  Batman is not happy that they missed the Red Hood again, so what does he do?   He goes to a fundraiser for Gotham Police.   That’s what he’s got to do.   I also found it interesting that the public, Lucius Fox included, does not know that Bruce is dead but thinks he is in hiding and trying to clear his name in his own way.   I’m sure he will die in a skiing accident or crash in a small aircraft accident when they are ready to figure that one out.   That’s how celebrities go out if it’s not drugs or a case of the crazies.

Dick Grayson is introduced to an odd looking man by the name Oberon Sexton.   Dick also stated an alias of Oberon’s as Gravedigger.   Being the Geek that I am, I looked up the name Oberon Sexton and it has several meanings. The one that stood out for Oberon was a legendary king of the fairies in medieval and Renaissance literature.   He is best known as a character in William Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream,  in which he is Consort to Titania, Queen of the Fairies.   His last name, Sexton, means the church official who looks after the graveyard and may act as a gravedigger and bell-ringer.   The connection makes sense now doesn’t it.   For a minute I thought he may be the Red Hood, but my theory was proven wrong because the story transitions to the Red Hood’s lair.

The next bit of writing was in my opinion done very well.  The interaction between the Red Hood and Scarlet is amazing and smart.  The Red Hood seems to be educated and has a respect and a gentleness for Scarlet that he does not hold for anyone else.   This is immediately followed by an interaction between Batman and Robin.  We get to see the mentor role Dick has taken on with Damion.   There is even a moment where Batman shows Robin how his hood can become a blindfold by yanking it over his head. Damion then shows Batman that he can fight blind, something left over from his training by the League of Shadows.

This is just some fine writing.

Batman and Robin swing into action, they are going to crash a business meeting of Gotham’s organized crime, but they are late to the party once again because Red Hood and Scarlet are already killing everyone in the room. The only guy left is Oswald Cobblepot, AKA, the Penguin.   Batman and Robin get in between the Red Hood and the Penguin, who by the way, is saying he is innocent and he was at the meeting by mistake, who saw that coming?  This is the first meeting between the Red Hood and Batman, and Dick utters the name “Jason?”   AKA, the second Robin who had once taken on the role of the Red Hood.

batmanandrobin4variant.jpgArt: 5/5 A homerun again!  I know I sound like a broken record but Philip Tan is amazing and should never stop doing what he does best, drawing.

Story: 5/5 The story really came back and grabbed me.   I may have to go and look some stuff up to get part of the back story but I like that kind of thing.   I can’t wait to see if it is Jason under the Red Hood and that’s what keeps bringing me back for more.

Covers:
Main cover: 3/5 It was okay it just a standard shot of the bad guys of the story.

Variant cover: 5/5 Stop the press what is that?  Why did this cover get shelved over the main addition?  The shot was a little like Spiderman but way better in my opinion.   I would have loved to see it colored and I would have bought that issue over the main issue.  Very cool cover.

Final Thoughts: This issue  was way better then the last by a mile.  It is far superior with a lot of little golden nuggets to dig out if you so desire.

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TO THE MATT CAVE – Batman and Robin #3 Reviewed!

28

Sep

Posted by Steve

Batmatt’s back with his review of Batman and Robin # 3.  What did our resident Batman fan think?  Read on:

Hello fellow geeks, Batmatt here with the next review of Batman and Robin’s latest escapades. We left the last issue with Dick Grayson speeding off on a four-wheeler that would make any redneck jealous. As issue three opens we find out that Batman has been busy, he has Rex the flame head hog tied and is tearing down the road holding his face just inches from the pavement. He is doing this to loosen the circus freak’s gums and get him to talk. Rex spills the goods on his boss on the steps of Gotham PD, and Commissioner Gordon is a little upset by the tactics used and flat out demands to know who this Batman is. In response, Dick Grayson says the line made famous by Michael Keaton, “I’M BATMAN”. Batman also gives a clue to Pyg’s plan but we readers have to wait a little longer because we need to see what is happening to Robin.

Batman_and_Robin_3.jpgRemember last issue the snot nosed spoiled brat was getting overtaken by a mob of creepy dollatrons and is now tied to a chair. As Robin wakes up he delivers the best line of the issue “so… whose neck do I break first?” I got to say this kids got guts, ten years old, tied to a chair, and he still knows he has the upper hand. So after I have a good chuckle I then get to cry big man tears as I have to read through some really bad writing. I suffer through 3 and a half pages of Pyg dialoguing in a way that only a lunatic can. Say what you will about any of Batman’s foes but you can always count on their dialogue to at least make some sense. Not so when it comes to Pyg. I finally got to breathe a sigh of relief when Robin removed his rope restraints and started to kick everyone’s teeth in. Then we go to Batman kicking the posterior of a dollatron that has an “Al-Qaeda special” strapped on, but there is no bomb only a sneezy dollatron that tries to blow his nose on Batman. Dick then realizes that the threat is biological. Robin is still fighting off the dollatrons and gets some help from an unfinished one named Sasha, the daughter of Niko, the drug dealer Pyg turned into a dollatron in issue 1. As Sasha burns Pyg he squeals and runs away. Robin pursues him and then gets knocked out. Batman rides in and saves Robin from getting skewered and both Batman and Robin knock Pyg out. In the words of the immortal Porky Pig “Th-th-th-that’s all folks!”

During the moments after the fight and before the police get to the scene Batman and Robin are talking and the realization that Dick saved Damien’s life settles in on Robin. It is my hope that some of the harder edges on the character of Damien are going to soften, at least to some degree. Right now all I see is a ten year old with a sardonic mouth twice his age. The end of the issue gets interesting as Batman and Robin are chasing down a lead on the guys that killed Bruce. Pyg is now in Arkham Asylum, and Sasha is killing off the dollatrons. The cops try and stop her, but they are gunned down by the Red Hood. The last time I read anything about Red Hood was in a genesis story of the Joker. The Red Hood was an idea, he was never just one man. The costume was passed around from thug to thug. The guy that was to become the Joker was wearing the costume when Batman pushed him into batch of chemicals, then poof, out comes the Joker. But in issue three, the Red Hood alludes that he is going to be a vigilante. Not like Batman, because the Red Hood carries a big red gun and does not have a problem killing cops.

Batman_and_Robin_3_variant_cover_batman_7957196_583_872.jpgStory- 3/5 This was a wrap up issue for the Pyg story arc and I have to say I did not like the villain at all which makes the experience harder to find good points in the story. The story lagged in a few spots, but it did have great action and some good dialogue between Batman and Robin.

Art- 5/5 Again great work, the art is so detailed and is one of the main reasons I enjoy reading comics today. A comic can have a great story and be completely ruined by poor, sloppy, lazy artwork. This does not happen in this issue and I hope it continues down this same path.

Covers- Main issue cover 5/5 it really conveys the Closterphobic feeling from the swarm of dollatrons as they close in on Batman and Robin.

Variant cover- 4/5 great cover I just felt that it did not have anything to do with the issue. It was just a good picture of Batman and Robin.

Final summary- This issue did not grab me like the first two did but there were several good moments in the story that helped redeem it. Not that I am complaining, I still get to read a comic and write about it. How sweet it is.

From the Desk of the Superclerk: Blackest Night #2 Reviewed

7

Sep

Posted by Steve

Basically, I wanted to give all of the GOO readers a lot to read, I kept all of this until Labor Day.  So now you all have something to do, and I’m finally caught up with the reviews that Jason aka Superclerk has sent in.  If you enjoy Superclerk’s writing, check out his podcast, Flicks, that he hosts with his friend Dan. You can find it over at sfpros.podzone.net. Once again, my apologies to Jason for not getting his reviews out in a more timely manner. You didn’t read the site to read me talk about all that though. Here’s Jason with his review of Blackest Night #2:

The Blackest Night has begun…

Inside the Stonechat Museum located in St. Roch, a phone rings. Blood covers the floor and signs of a battle lay strewn about. On the other end of this phone call is Ray Palmer, The Atom.

Blackest_Night_2.jpgRay is trying to get through to Carter Hall, Hawkman, and tell him why he is still mourning the death of his wife even though in the end she was a murderer. When the call connects and he pleads to his friend to just listen for a few minutes he is answered by the voice of Carter asking him to come over. Ray accepts the invitation without knowing that his friend is dead and the voice he is hearing is that of Hawkman of the Black Lantern Corps.

The next scene is one I found very touching and also a good look into the world of the Gotham City police force. Gordon and Barbara are sitting on the roof drinking coffee and standing around the glow of the Bat Signal. Gordon is concerned about Batman and tells his daughter that he feels that something is wrong. He doesn’t know what it is but it’s the same feeling that he had when the first Batgirl stopped being seen. The police knew something had happened and that it wasn’t good.

Barbara comforts her father and lets him know that she will stay up on the roof with him until it’s time to turn the signal off.

The tender moment is over when Green Lantern smashes down onto the Bat Signal smashing it to bits.

Meanwhile, in Amnesty Bay…

Mera is taking Garth and a few Atlantean soldiers to the grave of Arthur Curry, Aquaman. She has finally allowed Garth to take the body of Aquaman to the burial place of their kings. While she is not happy about this she has allowed for the sake of her people.

They come to the resting place of their King and friend and find that the grave has been torn open and the body missing. As the two try and figure out which of Aquaman’s foes could have done this they are interrupted by a voice from behind.

Aquaman stands risen and takes out a few of the soldiers before anyone can react to his sudden appearance. As the blood begins to be spilt on the wet ground he attacks the two people he loved the most in the world.

Back in Gotham City we find another hero in the midst of peril. Boston Brand, Deadman, is under attack from the voice of the Black Lanterns. He can hear it calling for him to rise and he’s doing everything he can to stop it from happening.

A black ring digs into the dirt of his grave as he attempts to stop it but his actions prove useless.

A boney hand pushes through the earth and soon the whole corpse of Boston Brand is flying into the air and away from the spirit that once called the body home.

In Washington D.C. more rings seek out flesh and come across the resting places of the duo known as Hawk and Dove. While one ring is able to claim the corpse of Hawk the other ring attempts to claim Dove but is forced away with the proclamation that Don Hall of earth is at peace. Finally we are shown a weakness of the Black rings. This is the first time they have not been able to claim a body in the series so far.

I like this idea. I had thought that the rings could bring back whoever they wanted and to have Don Hall deemed “At Peace” makes me wonder why he is so special. What other heroes will not return due to finally resting in the peace they deserve?

We return to Aquaman tearing apart the people who had come to blackest_night_issue_2_variant.jpgreturn their King home. The soldiers are torn apart and Mera has just plunged her trident into the chest of dead her husband. This does nothing to slow him down and instead he manages to get closer and able to attack.

Garth is fighting a new battle with the risen corpses of his former lovers, Dolphin and Aquagirl. As they attack his mind with accusations of loveless relationships they tear at his body as well.

More soldiers come to the aid of the heroes but before they can even leave the water they are consumed by sharks at the command of Aquaman.

Back at the grave of Boston Brand we see a gathering of some of earths mightiest heroes of the supernatural. With the grave ripped open as we have seen of the others they are trying to figure out what it all could mean. Before they can try and come up with a possible scenario they find themselves with a visitor. A once dead ENTER NAME HERE visits them and soon explodes in a rain of gore and Black Lantern rings.

Standing back hidden from sight is Black Hand. He smiles as one ring finds it’s way to Crispus Allen… currently the host of the Spectre. The power of the Black ring pins the Spectre inside and allows Allen to rise and join the ranks of the Black Lantern Corps.

Crispus Allen grows to tower over the grave yard and calls out for Hal Jordan. This is a massive splash page and it works to show the power of the Spectre. I’m thinking this isn’t a good thing for Hal Jordan to have to face while also dealing with the Blackest Night.

Coming back to Hal Jordan, we find Gordon helping him up from the smashed Bat Signal on top of police headquarters. While he tries to shake off the attack we see that Barry Allen, The Flash, is still battling Martian Manhunter. Hal asks if he can borrow a cop car and heads off to help his friend.

The battle continues as Mera and Garth fight against the undead versions of their former flames. Aquaman is attempting to rip Mera’s heart from her chest when she manages to use her power over the water around her to blast him away. Garth hits Dolphin with a blast to her face, which freezes her head. A blow from Mera with the trident causes her head to shatter. This is a momentary set back for the Black Lantern as her head grows back almost immediately.

While Mera struggles with Dolphin, the risen Aquagirl over powers Garth and his heart is torn from his body. As Mera screams out to her fallen friend he is sought out and taken by a Black ring. Mera escapes as the undead team now including Garth searches for her.

We return to the battle between Flash and the Martian Manhunter. As Barry manages to get J’onn in a pool of chemicals, Hal returns to the fight hauling a police cruiser along. He throws the car down which causes a massive explosion that consumes the undead Manhunter and lights up the Gotham City night.

While the two heroes discuss the possibility that J’onn might not be the only victim of the Black rings, the smoke clears and we find that Martian Manhunter is very much unfazed by the fire and that he now has back up in the form of Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Firestorm, and the Dinby’s.

The battle has only just begun.

STORY: 5/5

It’s still going strong, as this entire issue is nothing but battles between heroes and Black Lanterns. The chaos is unfolding and the heroes of the DCU have no idea what is going on.

Both of the major battles are done very well as we lose another hero to the Black Lanterns and we see two of the major players do their best and not even leave a scratch on their adversary.

The strength of the members of the Black Lantern Corps has been shown and it really seems like the heroes have meet a challenge that may not be defeated.

ART: 5/5

Still excellent. I remain convinced that Ivan Reis is the perfect choice for this main story. His ability to create a world for this story that is familiar yet darker than the DCU we know and love is perfect.

Like Commissioner Gordon says in the book, “The sky seems so much darker tonight.”

COVERS:

Regular Edition: 5/5

I really dig this cover. The lone Hal Jordan glowing green in the midst of the most powerful undead that has ever been is a striking image. The best part is… Hal doesn’t look scared at all.

Variant Edition: 5/5

It’s an undead Aquaman riding a giant zombie seahorse while commanding an army of skeletal fish and great white sharks. Need I say more?

ALL IN ALL –

I know it seems like I have nothing bad to say about this series… but I don’t. So far I have loved all that I’ve seen and I hope it keeps this momentum

From the Desk of The Superclerk – Adventure Comics #1 Reviewed

7

Sep

Posted by Steve

Well, I’ve had this one sitting in my inbox for a couple of weeks now.   I apologize to Jason for not getting this from him to the people sooner.  I have to say that I too pickedup Adventure comics #1 and there’s something very special about it.  There’s not a ton that happens, but I felt it was a great first issue and I’m sold on the new journey of Superboy, and for the first time in my comic collecting history, it looks like I’ll be getting into the adventures of the Legion of Superheroes.  But, enough with my thoughts, here’s Superclerk with his review of Adventure comics #1:

adventure_comics_1.jpg

Alright, folks…

Next to the beginning of The Blackest Night this book has been my most anticipated comic to come out this year. It’s something I didn’t think would happen and even, to a point, didn’t think should happen.

Connor Kent has returned to the DC Universe. And he’s got his own title to carry for the cherry on top.

Just to give you a brief history of my love for the character we have to travel back to the event that got me from being a kid who read random comics to one who collected comic books. That event was the death of Superman.

After Superman died and was replaced by the four Super Imposters, I went heavy into getting all the Super titles. I didn’t miss an issue. When the event was over and two characters became supporting role people and two were given their own books I made the decision to follow both Superboy and Steel where ever they went.

It was harder to follow Steel as his book came to an end and he spent a lot of time hopping around the DCU helping out heroes all over the place. Superboy was easier as his title managed to last one hundred issues and even had a team book in the middle of that. Superboy and the Ravers wasn’t the best book in the world but I bought it anyway.

I followed the character to Young Justice then onto the Teen Titans. It was here that the character really came into his own and finally got out of the shadow of Superman. Unfortunately it came to a close fast as he sacrificed himself during a Crisis at the hands of Superboy Prime.

The death was a good one. Connor had been through a lot the last year and had even called it quits on being a hero, quietly hiding in Smallville trying to be a normal teenage boy. He came back to the fight and went up against a foe he knew was more powerful than he was. He knew that taking Prime on would be the last thing he would ever do. He didn’t even look back.

His passing was one shrouded in legal issues and so much double speak that readers were sure we would never see him again. But it was somehow ok. He went out the hero we all knew him to be.

And then he returned.

The story is a long one. The short version is that he was brought back the same way Superman came back from the dead only his revival took one thousand years and the Legion was involved.

So now he has returned to his own time and that’s where we pick up Adventure Comics #1 and see where his story leads us next.

The book opens with Connor returned to the Kent farm. He has begun where he left off… doing chores, playing with Krypto, attending high school. One thing has changed though. Jonathan Kent has passed while Connor was gone. The farm feels quiet. Connor feels the need to help where he can. To make up for lost time.

The issue is set up as Connor makes a checklist of what Superman did to become the hero we know. Number one on that list is living with the Kents. Connor has this covered. He moves into the room Clark grew up in.

Next up on the list is attending Smallville High. He signs up for classes and assumes a normal teenage life in the small town. It’s a funny scene, as he has to choose between Animal Husbandry and Chemistry 101. I’m glad my high school didn’t have that kind of a class. With the luck I had back in those days I would have ended up in there. Connor picks chemistry.

Joining a team of superheroes is an easy one to check off the list as Connor returns to the Teen Titans. It’s a good scene. Connor and Bart, who came back from the dead during the same adventure, destroy the memorial statues that were put up after their deaths, letting people know that that they have returned.

During all these scenes we see flashbacks to Clark as a kid doing these simple things as well. Laying the groundwork that Connor is trying to live up to. In this scene we see a panel showing us a young Clark as Superboy flying with the Legion of Superheroes. This answers questions as to what role Clark had as a boy in this new timeline since the Crisis a couple years back. Not only is our Superboy back… but the original one has returned as well.

One his way back to the farm, Connor spots a young girl falling into a river and swoops in for the save. Before he can get there, Krytpo pulls her from the water and brings her to dry land. She’s fine and Connor flies her home with his loyal dog following along.

We take a break from the story of Connor at this point and see a scene in which a teen is taking samples from a body of water. While the kid talks to himself about the mysteries that have popped up in the last few weeks surrounding the town he comes face to face with a massive creature that rises from the water. The boy runs off while the creature speaks in mysteries. Something about the boy becoming Connors best friend and eventually his greatest enemy. It makes me want to know more.

Before making it back to the farm Connor stops at a large house that is falling apart and nearly part of the landscape as the foliage has begun to absorb the house. This is the former home of Lex Luthor. Lex lived in Smallville as a youth. Much like in the Smallville television show. I like it.

Connor isn’t alone for long as he gets a visit from Superman. They discuss Lex. The talk about his stay in Smallville and Clark’s relationship with the man who wants nothing more than to see him dead.

The whole point of the talk is to let Connor know that he isn’t Lex. He isn’t Clark either. Connor is his own person. Everything he does and everything he becomes is all him and no one else. In case you aren’t up to date on the origin of Superboy, Connor is made from the genetic material of both Superman and Lex Luthor. Crazy, I know.

Superman makes Connor promise him that he won’t go near Lex. Connor promises and the two part ways.

Connor finally returns to the farm and heads upstairs before dinner. We see him pull a journal out of hiding and he updates it. There are check marks next to all the events we have seen Connor do over the course of the day and it seems he is on the right path to follow in the footsteps of Earth’s greatest hero.

advcom1var.jpgThen we see the other page opposite the one about Superman. This page is going to become a list of the things that Lex Luthor does. The first thing on the list is that Lex lies to Superman. Connor checks this item.

He lied to Superman about not seeking out Luthor. Dun dun dunnnnn!

That’s the end of the story involving Connor but that’s the end of the book…

The next bit is our introduction to the Legion side of this book. It’s a double feature kind of thing as Connor and the Legion share top billing of this title. I’m excited to see more of the Legion after the Legion of Three Worlds book and to be teamed up with Superboy makes things even better.

The story is a short one as we get a little origin of the Legion and then a story dealing with Starman, who is currently stuck in present day and has most of his mind lost as well.

He pops up in Smallville and after accidentally trashing the local bowling alley he meets up with another Legion member who happens to be the same creature that we saw rise from the water in the last story.

They talk a little and the short of it is this…

Starman’s mental breakdown is getting worse and the future is in peril unless they do something. That’s a good enough set up for me. Let’s get this ride started!

STORY:

SUPERBOY: 5/5

Ok… I’m a little biased. But I did think it was an excellent start to the book. It’s what I wanted in a return to the character.

A few of things I’m going to like is that this is feeling like a Smallville TV show book. I’m hoping it takes the best of the show and the best of a comic and puts it all together into a compelling read.

LEGION: 4/5

It was a little short so it didn’t have much to go with. But it left me wanting more so it did the job it was supposed to do. I think the teaming of these characters in a single book is a great idea.

ART:

SUPERBOY: 5/5

I know. Deal with it. I loved this issue. The art is my kind of art and that only makes me love it more. It’s simple but the coloring of the pages really makes it feel real. I want to see more.

LEGION: 4/5

I dig it. It works with the story and it’s pretty clean work. The team they have set up for this book lends well to each other.

COVERS:

REGULAR EDITION: 5/5

A simple cover that shows us the simple story. Superboy is fighting with the fact that he was created from the world’s greatest hero and it’s greatest villain. The image says it all and it’s a good-looking piece. I would hang it on my wall. Christmas is right around the corner folks… hint, hint…

VARIANT COVER: 4/5

The cover is made up of a few boxes showing us different characters we are going to be dealing with in the book. It works and I like it. I’m going to like it better as the issues keep coming out because it looks like all the variants are going to be this set up. That’s going to look mighty cool all laid out next to each other…

ALL IN ALL:

I’m excited for this book. It seems to be a good time for the DCU. Superman is pretty good right now, Superboy is back, Blackest Night is in full swing…

This Fanboy is a happy one.

The Matt Cave – Batmatt reviews Batman and Robin

19

Aug

Posted by Steve

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 batman1.jpgcharacters 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. batman_and_robin_2_668x1024.jpgBig 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.