Batman and Robin #1
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Frank Quitely
After three agonizing months without Bat books (aside from Battle and it’s tie ins), we finally got what we were waiting for. Batman and Robin, the new franchise title in the Batman line, and the forerunner to the Bat reboot, hit shelves this week. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely doing a book about the new Batman and Robin, Dick Grayson and Damien Wayne. Did it live up to expectations? Is this book really good enough to head up the Bat line?
Grant didn’t give us his usual first issue, in that this wasn’t a wall of plots to be touched upon later, rather he wisely chose to go with a more straight forward issue that gave us a basic understanding of the new status quo in an attempt to ease us into the changes. New Batmobile, new Batcave, same old Alfred. And while we’re at it, hey, new bad guys! We got our first look at the Circus of Strange in the first issue with Toad and Pyg, and it appears that they’re just guys in masks….well, actually, Toad I’m not so sure about. Damn good mask.
Something I like that Morrison is consciously taking into account is that despite Dick and Damian being the new Dynamic Duo, there isn’t history between them. Damian is the real son, but Dick is the favorite. Damian doesn’t respect Dick, and Dick doesn’t know a thing about Damian. In interviews Morrison kept making it clear that it’s a different style of Batman and Robin with the Bat being the lighter one, while the Boy Wonder is grim and gritty. He succeeds immediately, and it comes across very well.
Damian still exudes the cockiness that left most readers writing him off earlier in his life span, but there is no lack of effort put into his character. The little nuances that both make you hate him, but also keep it fresh in your mind that he was raised to be an assassin. He’s not Dick, or Tim, and he’s not even Jason. Damian Wayne is very much his own character, and he’s stronger because of it. Well, that, and the fact that he hasn’t been passed around a writer pool until he was left one dimensional.
Dick is still finding his legs in the role of his mentor, and he does feel very much over his head. There’s a distinct difference though between Dick in and out of the costume, as when he’s in the suit he knows what he has to do, and he gets the job done, but once the mask comes off he resorts back to questioning himself. The Bat must be confident at all times, but Dick Grayson can still wonder if filling in for Bruce is the right thing. Very nice little characterization.
There isn’t much from the supporting cast, Jim Gordan is there for a page or two, and Alfred helps out for a few more (during which Damian refers to him simply as “Pennyworth”), but again, first issue. There is time to bring in more later, but the first issue needs to establish the main players in the book to keep the reader enticed. Morrison does this exceptionally.
But what about the art? Anyone who’s read a review of mine knows I’m no art critic, but Frank Quitely turns in pages that look very reminiscent of his recent All Star Superman work, and trust me when I say that’s a good thing. Quitely is a phenomenal artist, and in a book like this he truly shines (cast of men, his strong point). His Batman and Robin shine immediately with the same iconic tone he was able to give the Man of Steel. Now, with any luck, he’ll be handling pencils for more then two or three issues at a time. He may not be a monthly penciller, but the more work he does for a book the better it seems to be.
It’s a whole new team, and a whole new beginning, but at the end of the day it feels just like it used to.
Batman and Robin will never die.