DC’s new All-Star titles, while not in continuity with their mainstream comics, aren’t really intended to be an alternate universe, either. They represent, according to DC, their most famous characters at their purest, most iconic, and are intended to draw in readers who may be unfamiliar with recent comic books.
Who better to do Batman and Robin in this manner, than Frank Miller? He revitalized interest in Batman with Dark Knight. He rebooted continuity with Year One.
He has gone hopelessly awry with this effort.
Title: All-Star Batman and Robin #1-2
Writer: Frank Miller
Artist: Jim Lee.
Dick Grayson watches his parents die; Batman kidnaps the traumatized kid after deciding to make him his ward.
The comic features some strong artwork, and the early panels (The Vicktoria’s Secret Sequence aside) evoke a sense of a legend about to be retold.
The second issue has Batman realizing that the cops really aren’t trying to stop him anymore. It’s a fun moment in a not terribly fun series.
Anything regarding the acquiring of his sidekick:which is the raison d’être of this project. Batman eyes the young Dick Grayson before his parents die, and when they do, and the kid is traumatized, he hoists him up and tells him he’s been drafted into a war. He then kidnaps Grayson (possibly killing, certainly injuring, some crooked cops along the way), insults him, and drugs/gasses him. Yes, Batman would be a tough teacher. Okay, maybe Grayson will humanize him in the next issues. It still doesn’t work.
This isn’t Batman. It’s Brat Pack.
Originality: 1/6. Except for the approach Batman takes to Robin, this isn’t very original. It’s not meant to be; DC wants to revisit their most iconic characters and moments.
Artwork: 5/6 Lee delivers in the art department. Issue #1 seems a bit too gratuitously sexualized. Vicki Vale in lingerie is fine, for a panel or two. Lee gives us pages of Vale in underwear and heels.
Story: 3/6. Miller has talent, so it’s difficult to grasp why his writing here is so clunky.
Characterization: 3/6 Characterization is internally consistent. However, this isn’t Batman, and Miller has no real idea what to do with Dick Grayson. Vicki Vale is strident, but reasonably well-handled.
Emotional response: 4/6 Here’s a tough one to score. I had an emotional response, all right, and so did many other readers—but it’s not the response that DC likely wants, and certainly not the one they should be seeking with this particular character. This isn’t Miller’s Dark Knight, remember; it’s supposed to be Batman and Robin at their most iconic. Batman has been portrayed in many different ways over the years, but the fans and even the general public have a general sense of his essence. He may be a tough, dark, brooding figure, who is very much on the edge, but he’s a likeable tough, dark, brooding figure who is very much on the edge. He’s not the arsehole depicted in these comics.
Overall: 4/6 On the one hand, this is a competently-handled comic book, created by two major players in the field. On the other, it desecrates the spirit of the characters, thus far to no good end.
In total, All-Star Batman and Robin 1-2 receives a score of 25/42.
In the oft-maligned Golden Age of Comics, it happened like this:
Dick Grayson watches the death of his acrobat parents. He knows that “Boss” Zucco, who has been extorting money from the circus, is behind the deed, and he wants to do something about it.
A dark figure comes up behind him and puts a hand on his shoulder. He explains how powerful Zucco is, in this corrupt town. He explains how dangerous it would be for Dick to go to the police. But, he explains, ways exist to fight Zucco.
“Who are you?” young Grayson asks.
“I’m the Batman.”
Batman invites Grayson to be his partner. And Bruce Wayne takes the youth in regardless.
I don’t expect a replay. Still, compare this to the callous brutality of All-Star, and the following masterful dialogue:
Grayson: Who the hell are you, anyway, giving out orders like this?
Batman: What, are you dense? Are you retarded or something? Who the hell do you think I am? I’m the goddamn Batman.
The Timeshredder’s reviews may be found here.