Monday, October 13, 2014

Batman and Robin by Grant Morrison issue #1

Sometimes jumping back and forth reading between the New 52 continuity and old continuity Batman can be strenuous but still a worthwhile journey when the writers who handle a specific title are very much capable of sustaining interest and imagination. I don't really get confused about the storylines because I can always check sources online. Besides, I like reading both continuities simultaneously when it concerns my Batman. It's like I'm time-traveling through comics!

Now anyone who has ever followed my reviews would know that Peter J. Tomasi's Batman and Robin for New 52 is my second favorite Bat-title EVER and I just finished reading and reviewing its latest issue pertaining to the second part of the Robin Rises story arc. It only seems appropriate that I go back to its predecessor series when Grant Morrison was the writer. Originally, I intended to only review the first three issues of old-continuity Batman and Robin entitled Batman Reborn but if I ended up enjoying myself with what the rest of the series has to offer (there are 25 issues in total; 16 of which are penned by Morrison. Hell, even Tomasi himself wrote for it in issues #20-22 and were illustrated by Gleason as well), I might still pick this up starting from the fourth issue afterwards. We shall see...

A brief background for this title: this series was launched in the aftermath of the Final Crisis event and directly follows up Batman R.I.P (Bruce Wayne died at the hands of the villain Darkseid), and then by Battle for the Cowl where it was decided who was going to take over as the new Batman (it's Dick Grayson). Now I loved Dick Grayson as Batman and Scott Snyder's The Black Mirror will always be my favorite story arc that included him. However, I'm also a rabid Damian Wayne fan and I acknowledge that Morrison created that character and I'm very interested to see how he was characterized for this title, and his relationship with Grayson as the new Batsy and Boy and Wonder respectively. So I'm already invested and pumped for this, especially since Tomasi's ongoing series is still a loose continuation of Morrison's run.

The first issue was a great introduction enough. We immediately see Dick as Batman and Damian as Robin having a car chase with this villain called Mr. Toad who is definitely an amphibian fellow of his namesake. No important information is given yet regarding his motivations for crime but he's been apprehended by the Dynamic Duo and does look like he still has some trick under his sleeve. I'm especially curious about the suitcase of dominoes he's been carrying around. They look like significant plot devices. We also get a surprise villain at the end of the pages, Professor Pyg who has a strong penchant (read: fetish) for constructive surgeries (read: mutilation) performed (read: forced) on human bodies. He's terribly horrific and I can't wait to read more of him.

The character arc for this issue focuses on the early stages of Dick and Damian's relationship as partners. It features the Damian Wayne I knew at the beginning when he was too headstrong and argumentative for his own good. I know for a fact that they will develop a closer bond as time goes on and as evidenced in Tomasi's run, but for now I am enjoying the tension in their dynamic, especially Alfred being caught in the middle and offering Dick counsel. For his part, Dick is still getting used to the Bat-cowl but he has plenty enough experience as Bruce's sidekick to carry on and hopefully define the mask on his own terms. Damian is resisting him right now but can put aside his personal opinion for the sake of compliance during missions. So far, I am liking the direction of this narrative. I've missed Damian since his demise in the current continuity but now that it's been announced that he's coming back, I suppose I will contend myself with Morrison's past series in the meantime.

Artist Frank Quitely's illustrations are instantly gripping. I like how he designs the characters in general which was reminiscent of some of the gorgeous visual landscapes of the Batman Incorporated pages even though I'm well aware that Quitely never worked for that title. I am familiar with him through his artwork from New X-Men, however, and I really think his style and depiction of the sequences suited Morrison's writing so far.

This is a promising start. I'm gonna start reading the next issues now after I finished typing this review.


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