Thursday, March 31, 2011

Batman and Robin - Grant Morrison

Batman has been around for a really long time.  In fact he dates back all the way to 1939, so trying to catch up with his story is a bit overwhelming.  Don't ask me how he's managed to stay so young looking, but let's assume he and Heidi Montag don't have the same doctors.  As a new comic reader I find it pretty overwhelming to try and jump into the world of some of these characters that have been around forever.  With literally thousands of comics, side projects, crossovers, team-ups, and all the Justice League stuff, Batman can be a real pain to catch up with.  Fortunately for people like me, authors do a great job of creating "jump on points," where the larger story takes a new turn, allowing new readers a great place to join the adventure.  Morrison's "Batman and Robin" is the most recent jump on point in the saga of Batman, and for the most part it delivery on every level.  The only down side is that you just might need a quick history lesson to truly enjoy what the future holds.

Bruce Wayne, the original Batman, is dead.  In his place is Dick Grayson, the original boy wonder, and his new Robin, Wayne's son Damian.  Damian is also the son of Talia al Ghul who apparently is not in line for any "mother of the year" awards.  Fortunately, due to their relationship, Damian is in possession of some rather beneficial skills that make him a formidable Robin.  The new Batman and Robin set out to fill the gigantic void left by the original Batman, working together periodically, but frequently at odds with each other as they try to fill their new roles.  The story introduces some new villains into the world of Gotham City, as well as a few familiar ones that anyone will instantly recognize.  My favorite was the Red Hood, a new caped crusader with old ties to Batman's past.  I won't spoil who he is, but for someone with limited knowledge of Batman's lore, it was a fun discovery. Not all of the new characters worked for me, but overall I felt that the experience was fun and fresh, and most of the gambles worked.

Remember how I said you might need a quick history lesson in order to fully enjoy the direction of the future?  To me that is possibly the only downfall of the series.  Even though Morrison takes the story down an interesting road, he makes assumptions that readers know a lot about Batman's past.  While that may be true for many readers, it wasn't true for me, and I often found myself not understanding many of the references.  Why is Batman dead?  How did Dick Grayson become Batman?  Where did this Damian guy come from?  None of these questions are satisfactorily addressed, but instead Morrison assumes you just know.  It sort of felt like watching "Return of the Jedi" without seeing "A New Hope," or "Empire."  Great movie by itself, but probably more confusing than it should be.  Despite these holes left unfilled, "Batman and Robin" really doesn't disappoint.  It has amazing action, deep plot, complex character development, and some fantastic artwork.  It also has a Robin character that just might demand his own series one day.  Overall the positives far outweigh the minor complaints.  Especially when filling the holes simply requires reading more comics...perfect solution!  Any book that immediately makes me want to pursue more related material is a keeper, and "Batman and Robin" fits that criteria perfectly.  Batman's past is epic, and the future is off to a great start.

1 comment:

  1. Finally! A post on a book I've already read, so I can actually comment on it. I really like where Morrison is taking Batman's story, but I was confused at first, too. Being someone who doesn't like coming into a series halfway, it's encouraged me to do some research and look for the backstory (thanks for your help on that btw.)

    Thanks again for posting these reviews! Each entry gets better and better, and I always look forward to reading what your final opinion is on the books you read.