Review

Batman and Robin #1

4th June 2009 | by | 6 Comments

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one eyed monster online It will surprise no one that Grant Morrison has produced the most paradoxical comic of the week. How can a book that clearly opens the fourth act of the writer’s epic Batman story cry out for the tag ‘NEW’ to be placed in the corner of the cover? Brazenly ignoring both the extremely good Final Crisis tie-in and the extremely poor two-issue arc from Neil Gaiman, Domino Effect clearly picks up where Batman RIP left off, with Dick Grayson clutching the discarded cape. This time, however, the writer has brought the big guns to bear. Given that the words ‘Morrison’ and ‘Quitely’ appearing on the cover of a comic have become the shorthand for ‘redefinition of medium in progress’, the first surprise is that it’s taken so long for the writer’s favourite collaborator to find his way to Gotham City.

At first, the disappointment is shocking. While the sequence in which the new pop-art Batmobile is put through its paces is not without its strengths, DC has trailed the art to death over the last few months, and the issue suffers from such a familiar opening. Things soon begin to pick up however, as it becomes clear just how heavily the “future” shown in Batman #666 is influencing events. Dick is operating from a familiar looking skyscraper, and the arrival of the previously referred-to Professor Pyg suggests that the barely glimpsed rogues’ gallery that the Damien Batman encountered will make a more permanent incursion into the book. In the midst of some perfectly pitched characterisation, Morrison clearly revels in having finally shaped the core scenario of the franchise perfectly to his tastes. Tim Drake always felt like a pointless legacy inclusion in his run, and the Dick/Damien interplay more than validates the promotions that both characters have been given. There’s little to complain about, aside from the ‘Batman: Reborn’ branding on the book. (It’s getting to the point where if Morrison writes a single issue in which Dick Grayson decides to put his feet up for once, then DC will slap ‘Batman’s Day Off’ banners across the entire line.)

There are two differing intellectually credible viewpoints to hold about Frank Quitely’s art: you can admire the artist’s work because of his unique style, or in spite of it. I fall into the latter camp. While his ability to capture motion is second to none and his storytelling superb, his over-detailing of flesh is just as much a distortion of the human form as the tiny ankles that Rob Liefield bestows on his creations. Based on early images, I wasn’t optimistic, as Quitely’s return to traditional pencilling from the computer-aided All Star Superman appeared to have brought out some bad habits. The turnip-headed Damien on the cover in particular seemed to bode ill. This view is partially justified, with the scratchy motion lines of the opening sequence in dire need of the details backgrounds that have always defined the bat-books. In the book’s quieter moments, however, Quitely’s work is a revelation. The realism in his depiction of Damien during the ‘Batbasement’ scene is magnificent, and easily the man’s best work since WE3. The idea that this newfound clarity in the artist’s depiction of people could be combined with the keneticism of his action sequences is mouth-watering.

Having truly taken possession of the franchise, Morrison offers the reader a thrilling ride, perfectly blending homages to the perceived tone of the Adam West TV series with moments of real horror. A bewitching achievement.phantasm divx movie online