Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Batman & Robin: Batman Reborn



I've been in love with Dick Grayson since the approximate age of 12. It started with Batman The Animated Series and quickly moved over to the comics. I even decided that if I ever found a guy in real life that was like him, I'd marry him.

I loved the Prodigal storyline that happened right around the time I was collecting. After all the Knightfall/Knightquest/KnightsEnd business, Bruce decided he needed more time off, and asked Dick to fill in for him. Dick was more than happy to put aside the Nightwing persona and do it for him. I haven't collected comics in ages, and honestly I stopped collecting Batman comics even before that. I do try to keep up to date with what's happening however. So when the death of Batman storyline came about, and they started playing the guessing game of who would replace him.. honestly there was no other choice in my mind. Of course it would be Dick.

Reviews of the Batman & Robin series were overwhelmingly positive from the get go, so I knew I had to get my hands on it. At this point in my life monthly visits to the comic shop just aren't practical, so I waited patiently for the release of the trade paperback. Actually, it's a hardcover. I didn't even realize they were releasing them this way, but I'm glad they did. It looks gorgeous and of course it's much harder to damage. I was afraid to take the sleeve off while I read it because I have a cat that loves to chew on paper, but the average person would have to try pretty hard to ruin the quality of these.

I enjoyed Morrison's New X-men run quite a bit, even though my thoughts on the whole thing were "Well, these aren't MY X-men, but I like the stories just the same.." I didn't get that feeling from this series at all. This is the Dick Grayson I've been in love with for more than half my life now. His thoughts and actions meshed perfectly well with the character I've known for so long. I can't count the number of times I smiled while reading this. In all fairness a general mention of Bruce and Dick as father and son is usually enough to make me all warm and fuzzy inside, so maybe I'm just easy to please in this regard. Damian Wayne was a completely new character for me, and I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about him. On the surface these "child of famous hero" characters always smack of fan fiction being brought into canon, but I think he's handled very well and brings a new dynamic to the Robin character and his relationship with this new Batman. He's both a compliment and foil for Dick's way of doing things, and I enjoy him a lot. I also really like the hood on his costume.

In terms of villains, I enjoyed that so far the Rogues gallery is pretty much literally a freak show. This early on they could have gone the obvious route and had them take on one of the big names to try to drum up interest and I'm glad they didn't. While I hope that the villains aren't constantly this gritty, I think it fit the tone of the book really well.

As you can probably tell, the art in comics often takes a backseat to storyline for me. I was not a fan of Quietly's art on New X-men, but I think it worked much better here in a Batman book. Or perhaps he has just grown as an artist. I still don't care for his shading techniques regardless. I found Philip Tan's art in the second arc a bit more enjoyable. Maybe it's just been a long time since I've read a comic, but I was also really energized to see the way they incorporated the sound effects into the images themselves. BANG is written in blood as someone is shot, and CRACK appears in the cracks as someone collides with a wall. Just a great subtle touch that shows how you can really take advantage of the medium you're working with.

I can't believe I have to wait until November until Volume 2 is out! Highly recommended for any Batman fan.

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