Thursday, October 16, 2014

Batman and Robin by Grant Morrison issue #4

"One of the first things Batman warned me about when I started out as Robin was how easily a hood can become a blindfold."

We need to talk about Jason Todd.

But before that, I think it helps to know that Grant Morrison's takeover of the Batman and Robin title means that we will be getting stories that were directly consequential of the events from Final Crisis, Batman RIP and Battle for the Cowl storylines. In this case, Bruce Wayne is dead, and that demise has sent a ripple effect in all of Gotham where the former first Robin Dick Grayson has to wear the Dark Knight mask in the meantime. A year after B&R, Morrison will also write Batman Incorporated which answers what Bruce Wayne had been doing all this time after he was declared deceased. In the meantime, Dick is Batman and Damian Wayne is his Robin.

I don't think I will ever refer to Dick as Batman in my succeeding reviews for this title because, as much as I did enjoy him in Snyder's The Black Mirror and in here, I'm just not comfortable generally calling him Batman. Bruce Wayne is irreplaceable no matter how much good of a job Dick has been doing in the past four issues I have read here so far. However, if there is anyone who could fill the role temporarily, Dick Grayson is the perfect candidate. Everyone knows it. Even Damian himself who outwardly criticizes Dick's leadership secretly acknowledges that Dick can handle being Batman.

Everyone can agree that Dick is doing his best to fulfill the role he had more than earned...everyone except, of course, Jason Todd.

So we need to talk about Jason Todd.

Revenge of the Red Hood is the second story arc for Morrison's B&R and it starts with this issue entitled Red Right Hand. Since you are reading this review, I'm just going to assume that you're familiar with Jason Todd's complicated role and history in the Bat-family. If you're not, and you're fine with spoiler galore, then here we go: He was the Robin who followed Dick Grayson, and one whose aggression and rebellious streak had gotten him into trouble a few times until one day he went too far and ended up getting captured by the Joker and was subsequently killed by him (Death in the Family). Batman was unable to save him but Jason was revived when he was taken to the Lazarus Pit where his body was repaired and he lay low for a while so he can get stronger. After an ample amount of time, he came back to Gotham (Under the Red Hood) and forced Bruce to admit to him the real reason why he couldn't even kill the Joker to avenge him (Bruce replied that he simply wouldn't cross that line and break his code no matter how angry and painful it was to lose Jason). It was a very dramatic dialogue exchange which only fractured the relationship between him and Jason.

I don't think they ever fully got past this. So you can only imagine why we need to talk about Jason Todd here, considering he is the main focus for this story arc. The basic fact is that he could never forgive Bruce and now that Bruce is dead and Dick had taken over as the new Batman, Jason just...lost his shit. Well, the man is already walking the line of rage and insanity and though he never wanted to associate with Batman and the rest of the family anymore, I think there will always be a part of him who feels entitled to the mantle left by Bruce. And that's why he was on a one-man mission to clean up Gotham streets from crime but he's exactly what Batman would have been if he crossed the lines and went extreme. Interestingly enough, Jason has found his own Robin, Professor Pyg's victim whom Damian was unable to say last issue and he named her Scarlet. Said girl still has that Dollotron face mask and she seems afraid to take it off (whether it's because it might rip her facial skin off, or she's actually becoming her hideous mask the more she aids the Red Hood in his bloody crusade). This is a dynamic that mirrors Dick and Damian's own relationship since they themselves are still finding the right balance and rhythm to their partnership. It's like a twisted yet more functional version of Batman and Robin--if they were full-on killers.

I'm liking the elements of this story arc a lot. There is enough action and drama to go around, and the eventual first confrontation between Batman and Robin and Red Hood and Scarlet at the end of this issue holds weight and promise. Once again, I'll start reading the next issues once I posted this review. This is getting more and more exciting, guys! God, I can't believe I have to go back to reading Tony Daniel's second volume of Detective Comics again next week.

Thank Loki there's also Morrison's B&R to keep my sanity intact.


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