If you haven’t been following Batman comics recently, you may not be aware that Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman, is currently dead.
OK, fine. Bruce Wayne may not be technically dead, just trapped in the prehistoric past. Nevertheless, he is not around to be Batman. Could anyone take his place? This premise launched the Battle for the Cowl series, which basically acted as filler until they were ready to relaunch the core Batman titles as Batman, Batman and Robin, and Red Robin.
The only title I am interested in is Batman and Robin.
Why only that one? Entirely because of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. This is the same team that gave us the amazing All Star Superman. I mean, they made me enjoy Superman! It was the first title I would read when I picked up my comic book order. That is some high-powered talent!
Not surprisingly, I wasn’t disappointed. The book starts mid-chase scene, and uses a few lines of dialogue to make the entire Battle for the Cowl series irrelevant. Mostly by having the new Batman state the obvious: that he never wanted the responsibility of being Batman, but really there was no one else who can do the job.
So, with Bruce Wayne out of the picture, you may be wondering who are the new dynamic duo? The simple answer: Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne.
Dick Grayson was the original Robin. While he may have ditched his old duds for the batsuit, he has not undergone a personality transplant. As a result his Batman is a little more light-hearted than the original. He will tell the occasional joke and crack the occasional smile.
Damian Wayne is a different story. The son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, he was raised in secret with the intention of him one day leading the League of Assassins. Damian is driven, grim, brooding, and a genius.
In other words, he is a lot like his father.
All and all this works well as an inversion of the classic dynamic duo formula. Damian is shown to be so incredibly smart, continuously tinkering with and even improving, his father’s designs. This is important, since it helps you understand why Dick Grayson is willing to mentor the kid. As opposed to strangling him or something.
For Damian’s part, he still sees Dick Grayson as an usurper of his rightful destiny to succeed his father. If Damian thought he could get away with it, he would be happy enough to assume the mantle of Batman right now, despite being thirteen or so.
So enough about the characters. What do I think of the storyline so far? Well, it is very conventional for a Grant Morrison story. There is a flying Batmobile in it, but that works much better than you might think. The first part of the story involves the dynamic duo chasing down Mr. Toad and his gang after a heist, cutting short his “wild ride”. The second part of the issue introduces the creepy Mr. Pyg and his “doll people”. The ending of the book, which shows Mr. Pyg creating more “doll people”, definitely gives you the willies.
Hmmm… written out in three sentences like that, it does sound like a typically odd Morrison plotline. Trust me, it makes more sense told over 22 pages.
In any case, I recommend this storyline to anyone who is a fan of Batman comics. It may be a little bit of a different take on the legend, but Grant Morrison simply writes Batman very well. When you combined with Frank Quitely’s beautiful art, Batman and Robin is a truly amazing read.