Comics: Batman & Robin #1 (2009)

B_and_R1For fans of All Star Superman and The Authority, you’re in for a treat with Batman & Robin #1 (Batman Reborn arc) with the infamous creative team of writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely.

Coming off the heels of the supposed death of Bruce Wayne in Final Crisis #7 and the ensuing ‘Battle for the Cowl’ story arc (yawn), the Batman Reborn arc kicks off with Dick Grayson (the original Robin and more recently Nightwing) assuming the Bat mantle and Bruce’s estranged son Damien as the new Robin in a new DC series.

A little background first on the ‘bat’ universe within DC:  At the end of Final Crisis we are supposed to believe that Bruce Wayne mortally perished, yet in the last page it hinted very heavily that Bruce did in fact ‘not’ die, but taking a self imposed sabbatical for a while.  What this was supposed to accomplish for us comic fanatics I’m just not sure, because if DC was trying to shock us or make us care about Batman, they failed, at least in my opinion.  As a matter of fact Final Crisis in itself was a disappointment, especially since it was so drawn out and late with several issues.

So we are supposed to ‘believe’ Bruce is indeed dead, and thus a vacuum of power has been been created within Gotham City with many of the B-list hero’s in and around Gotham are going to pick up the pieces and continue on with Batman’s brand of justice.  So we have Robin, Huntress, Batgirl, Jason Todd, The Outsiders, Nightwing, Batwoman, etc., etc., etc. all vying for the lead spot in the totally predictable and utterly boring “Battle for the Cowl” arc. 

I’m sorry if I seem a little sour on this, but really, did anyone truly believe that Dick Grayson would not come out on top after all this and become the new ‘temporary’ Batman?  And I say temporary only because if you think Bruce is truly dead, then you may as well give up reading comics now.  Also, if you are one to believe that the next Batman movie will be out in 2010 or 2011, do you think DC would have one of their main characters in limbo when all the merchandising hoopla begins?  Nah, at best (or worst depending on how you look at it), Bruce will be back within 2 years….the same way most of DC’s ‘dead hero’ roster always returns back in time.  As far as the other titles go, I’m not so excited….so Red Robin is set in Europe, and Outsiders is just plain lame since it became ‘Batman and the Outsiders just over a year back witha  direction change that took the fun out of the book.  And sadly, while the new Batwoman may be something to look at as far as eye candy goes, nothing over there has made me care all that much.  Clearly Gotham is still too saturated with Bat-esque goodies and baddies running around in spandex…sigh.

Anyway, I’m off point.  Back to the comic at hand.  Morrison and Quitely’s take on Batman & Robin is very fun witha  mixture of dry humor and sarcasm.  Batman overall needed a nice change up within any of their titles, and this one looks very promising.  You can’t really go wrong with Morrison’s writing, and Quitely’s unique art style is both detailed and fresh on the characters within. 

While Dick Grayson is the lead in this title, it’s clear that a lot of focus and development is in store for Damien, and his character while coming off as a little spoiled prat at times is a good counter contrast to Dick’s. 

Introduced in this issue is a few minor tweaks to the traditional costumes (I particularly like Batman’s new belt), a new batmobile, and a new ‘lair’ (underneath a Gotham skyscraper that coincidentally is shaped like a bat if you look hard enough).  Also look for a new rogue in ‘Pyg’, a sadistic new villain whose minions are probably the most ‘eerie’ I’ve ever seen within the pages any Batman title.  It’s refreshing for a new criminal face other than another rehash of the Joker, Clayface, Penguin or whomever.

Morrison and Quitely have the first three issues here and are setting up the foundation for a hopefully solid run for future writers and artists on this title lik ethey did for X-Men #114 some eight years back.  Anyway, this title is fun and exciting and really does qualify as a ‘shake up’ within the established universe without throwing everything out the window before it, but again, in all seriousness, do we really expect Bruce to be gone for more than 2 years?

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