Batman & Robin, Vol.2-3: “Batman vs. Robin” & “Batman and Robin Must Die!” (DC)


I’m still catching up with a huge backlog of comics/graphic novel reviews, but I decided to collect these two books together. Partly because they’re obviously connected, but also because I wanted to get the reviews out of the way. After liking the first volume in Grant Morrison’s Batman & Robin run far more than I anticipated (I’ve written plenty of times how I think he’s highly over-rated), I dove in to the second and third volume pretty soon afterwards. (Told you I was being slow with reviewing…) Sadly, my pleasant surprise at the quality of volume one evaporated with these two books. These are, frankly, not so good.

Volume 2: “Batman vs. Robin”

Batman&Robin-Vol.2Writer: Grant Morrison | Artist: Cameron Stewart (#7-9), Andy Clarke (#10-12) | Colors: Alex Sinclair (#7,10-12), Tony Avina (#8-9,11) | Inks: Scott Hanna (#10-12)

The new Batman and Robin uncover clues involving the mysterious death of Bruce Wayne before facing off against each other in a heated battle instigated by Robin’s mother that both heroes will regret – if they live through it! Featuring a 3-issues storyline that ties into the best-selling BLACKEST NIGHT event titled “Blackest Knight,” this new collection is a must-have for both new readers and longtime fans of Grant Morrison’s Batman epic as the superstar writer unveils more of his genre-defying masterplan!

Collects: Batman & Robin #7-12 (pre-52)

We start in London. And this is the Grant Morrison I know. The story contains some thinly-veiled (to a Brit, at least) social and political commentary. Nothing wrong with this per se, but it wasn’t particularly well-done. Also, #7 (the first chapter in this book) was a bit muddled, to be honest. Suddenly, Batwoman’s there (why?), and also the Knight & Squire. Frankly, this was not good, following the previous issues.

Newcastle vs. London? Really? Writing a Geordie accent is never a good idea. Just sayin’.

The Batwoman story and presence was dealt with in two pages. There was some linkage to Morrison’s Event that killed Batman. It was not great, and rather rushed. Oh, and then Damian takes over as chairman of the board for Wayne Enterprises! At age 10! Of course! That isn’t moronic at all!

This book starts the return of Bruce Wayne. The story has moments which are quite fun, but the dialogue can sometimes be awful… (“It’s like the whole house is coming to life.” – #10, p.11) The story jumps forward, after getting us some way through the ‘treasure hunt’, only to not bother with the end of it. This just reinforces my belief that Morrison is a lazy writer. The story was half-assed. Really disappointing. At the same time, I didn’t see the end coming. So there’s that, I suppose.


Volume 3: “Batman and Robin Must Die!”

BMROBBMD_DLX_DJ.qxdWriter: Grant Morrison | Artist: Frazer Irving (#13-16), Cameron Stewart (#16) | Colors: ?

On the eve of Bruce Wayne’s return to Gotham City, the new Batman and Robin team that battled crime during his absence must deal with the return of The Joker.Then, Grant Morrison connects the BATMAN & ROBIN story with the bestselling THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE in the climactic showdown between Batman and The Black Glove.

And in a story illustrated by acclaimed artist David Finch, learn what happens to Dick Grayson after the “real” Batman returns.

Collects: Batman & Robin #13-16 (pre-52)

So, so sloppy.

That is basically how I feel about this book. It feels like Morrison is in a hurry to get things over with. The book ends with Batman Incorporated established – an event that spawned one of the worst books I’ve read. It is a dismal finish. Bruce Wayne just appears back in action at the end. There’s no real development of why or how (I assume one had to read The Return of Bruce Wayne and who knows how many other books/issues to get the full story).

So much has happened to the Bat-franchise during Morrison’s tenure at the helm, and I’m not at all convinced it’s all (or even mostly) good… This was, in many ways, complete gibberish. Maybe, as I’m sure die-hard Morrison fans will argue/wail, I just don’t “get” it, that he’s writing on a level that is above my comprehension. Ultimately, though, I just think he’s a bad writer.

I think I’ll probably just borrow the New 52 Batman Incorporated from my local library (it gets an excellent selection of New 52 books in), as once again he’s been handed the reins for another game-changing event. (Seriously, how can anyone think he’s the best choice, when compared to everyone else currently writing for a Bat-title?!)

I much prefer Peter Tomasi’s take on Damian Wayne, in the New 52 Batman & Robin. Tomasi’s writing overall is also superior in pretty much every way. Actually, everyone else working on Batman-related titles is doing a better job by far. I think I’m done attempting to find the supposed genius and/or magic in Morrison’s work. It just isn’t there, and I’m disappointed every time. Well, always except for one instance: Action Comics #0 wasn’t bad.


A closing comment for both of the books: the art is good. The one benefit of Morrison’s reputation, is that DC has allowed him to work with some exceptionally talented artists. For that, at least, we can be very grateful. The artists who worked on both of these books do a great job throughout.


One final comment: At least the Pink Flamingo wasn’t present in these books. He was an utterly ridiculous character.

Ok. I’m done, now.

Batman & Robin, Vol.1 – “Batman Reborn” (DC, pre-New 52)

Batman&Robin-Vol.1Writer: Grant Morrison | Artist: Frank Quitely (#1-3), Philip Tan (#4-6) | Inks: Jonathan Glapion (#4-6) | Colors: Alex Sinclair (#1-3,5-6), Pantazis (#4)

The new Dynamic Duo hit the streets with a bang in their new flying Batmobile as they face off against an assemblage of villains called the Circus of Strange. They also tackle their first mission investigating a child who’s been abducted by the mysterious Domino Killer. But will everything go smoothly? And who exactly are the new Batman and Robin? The newest era of The Dark Knight begins here!

Collects: Batman & Robin #1-6

Grant Morrison has the tendency to be awarded the privilege of writing momentous moments in the ongoing DC chronology. Sadly, I have yet to read any that have lived up to expectations. With the recent publication of the New 52 Batman Incorporated #8, I decided to catch up on some more of Damian Wayne’s tenure as Robin, and chose this as a starting point. It’s not terrible, but nor is it as strong as I would have liked. In other words, it’s exactly what I should have expected from a Morrison-penned comic…

Bruce Wayne is dead. After his death at the hands of Apocalypse in Final Crisis, Dick Grayson (former Robin and Nightwing) has assumed the Bat-mantle. As this series begins, it’s his first week on the job, and he’s nervous as hell. Damian isn’t helping matters, as he doesn’t respect Dick too much, or at least, he does only grudgingly. Damian goes off-mission frequently, and reacts badly when Grayson cautions him (“Look at you! The pathetic impersonation of my father makes a mockery of his memory! Keep your clues and your ‘detective skills’ and your limits.”).


At the start, our caped heroes are chasing after Toad, some kind of a mutant criminal. He’s working for Professor Pyg, the leader of an extreme circus troupe, “Cirque d’Etrange”. The first three issues/chapters of the book deal with this first mission for the new Batman and Robin. It’s ultimately drug-related, but I never felt it was as well-developed as it could be. It felt quickly over, and we’re just expected to accept what we’re told. I think there could have been a lot more meat to the story.


The second story, “Revenge of the Red Hood”… Well, this left me a little confused – is this the old Red Hood (last seen in flashbacks in the superb The Killing Joke), or the new Jason Todd Red Hood? Batman clears things up at the end of #4 and Robin also clarifies (“He looked different the last time we slapped him around.”). The Red Hood has adopted the last surviving victim of Professor Pyg, and given her a new mission and a new name: Scarlet. Together, they are taking a very hard line on Gotham crime, tear a bloody swathe through the underground elements of a city teaming with criminals and a society with a vast sea of dregs. It builds in a strange way, and I think the introduction of the Flamingo was the first sign of things reverting to the… less-good Morrison norm.

I did really like the way Morrison writes Grayson’s angst and anxiety over assuming the Batman role, especially towards the beginning, and also Alfred’s support is well-written and heartwarming. As always, the personal relationships are far more interesting (not to mention better-written) than anything else Morrison deals with in his stories. Jason Todd was rather cartoony. A pity, as he’s one of my favourite characters in the Bat-family.


Professor Pyg and his evil henchmen, not to mention Toad as well, are just… Well, silly. This is, as usual, the problem with Morrison’s comics. He has some great bits that are ruined by distracting silliness and poor execution. I still contend that Morrison has a streak of authorial laziness in him – for example, an aerosolized pathogen, at the evil genius’s lair, and Batman finds a test tube marked “antidote” right beside it – this can sometimes be funny, but it seemed to me that Morrison was just not interested in devising a more interesting, original solution to his story. He too often goes for the easy fix (although, at least he wasn’t responsible for the truly awful Letter Finale to Superman: Red Son). It’s also as if Morrison feels he needs to exaggerate certain things, when he’s obviously capable of nuance, in order to… Actually, I don’t know how to put this without demeaning the medium, but in order to ‘make it a comic’, and differentiate it from prose. Or something. It’s maddening. Thankfully, there was some good, gentle humour as well sprinkled throughout this book, which helped diminish the impact of some of the more annoying things contained within.


Batman & Robin Volume 1 is some of the better Morrison stuff I’ve read. I’ve picked up the next two volumes (they were on sale a while back on ComiXology), and will review them together.

If you love everything Morrison writes, I have no doubt you’ll like this. If you do not, then I can’t guarantee you’ll like this, either. But, it is among his better-quality work.