BookHound
Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

BATMAN & ROBIN #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

Batman & Robin #1

Over the years, there have been a lot of changes for Batman and Robin, probably one of the most celebrated partnerships of all fictional heroes. In the beginning, there was millionaire Bruce Wayne and his ward (whatever that meant) Dick Grayson. Then Robin grew up and became Nightwing. Then there was another Robin that died, and then undied. And then there was Tim Drake, the first Robin to ever have his own comic book. Strangely enough, there were more issues in the Robin series than there were in the Nightwing series.

When Batman got his back broken in a battle against Bane, Dick got passed over for Azrael, who became kind of a power-mad Batman and had to be stopped. Then Dick became Batman for a time.

Now, though, Bruce Wayne is lost in the past, last scene carving on a cave wall of all things. For the moment, he’s lost or dead. (But you have to wonder why Superman or one of the other Justice League members with time traveling abilities can’t find him.)

So there’s a need for a new Batman. There was even a “Battle for the Cowl” that sounded way too much like a WWF special event for my tastes. When the dust settled, though, Dick Grayson stepped up into the mantle of the Bat. Probably not a lot of people were surprised.

The big surprise is his choice of Robins. Tim Drake gets shunted aside (but worry not because he becomes the new Red Robin, proving that everyone is going to need a scorecard to keep up with who’s who in the Bat Family for the time being). And the winner is – Damian, the son of Bruce “Batman” Wayne and Talia Al Ghul, the daughter of one of Batman’s fiercest enemies.

Not a lot of people out in comicdom really like Damian. To a lot of folks, he seems like a homicidal maniac in the making. He even almost killed Tim Drake recently. Dick points out to Tim that he chose Damian as his Robin because Damian needs supervision and guidance.

And that becomes the core of this series. I have to admit that Dick’s selection may be the death of him – or of someone at least. But there are a lot of interesting character arcs that can be played out within that framework now. Dick moves the Batcave and begins a new relationship with Alfred, as well as stepping into the parent role in a big way himself. I’m really enjoying the sharp dialogue and interaction between our two bickering heroes, and the whole Batman/Robin schtick just feels different.

Grant Morrison is handling the writing and the stories and characters are great. I’m hanging on the edge of my seat with the turn of every page, waiting to see what happens next. And the time between issues is going to seem interminable.

Frank Quitely’s art is fabulous and it really suits the heroes and the tale. I especially enjoyed the slight new changes in the costumes, especially Batman’s utility belt. And the flying car is the bomb!

This issue opens up with a chase and lots of explosions. Morrison channeling Michael Bay, perhaps? Then it sidesteps whackiness with the Toad villain and the flying Batmobile zooming in on its prey. The two-page splashes of the chase are awesome!

Morrison puts a lot of balls in the air with this first issue, and even Batman and Robin’s meeting with Commissioner Gordon is literally left hanging. I don’t know how long Bruce Wayne is going to be out of the Batsuit, but things definitely aren’t going to be dull.

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