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All Star Batman and Robin Review Part 4: Now That The Hurricane’s Over, Time To Get My Priorities Straight

by  in Comic News Comment
All Star Batman and Robin Review Part 4: Now That The Hurricane’s Over, Time To Get My Priorities Straight

The first being typing knee jerk reactions to gonzo ass Batman comics on the internet forum I conned my way in to.

Now that I have power and ‘net access and air conditioning, it’s time to get down to business. Which, for an unemployed comics nerd in the summer of 2008, is talking about Batman. Haven’t seen the movie yet, so I might as well finish the review of this fat hardcover I spent around two movie tickets to write about. I think. I haven’t been to a first run movie in like four years, so for all I know the tickets cost $20 a piece now, even in my little backwater that was under water there for a while.

Also, for a nine issue comics collection? It feels kind of slight. I mean, I wasn’t expecting From Hell or Jimmy Coriggan or Absolute ROM in heft or anything, but it feels kind of lighter than you’d expect 3/4s of a year of comics (published over 3 years!) to feel like. Althought that boss fold out probably muddles things.

Oh, those last two issues of a portion of Miller’s lastest Batdroppings, I should react to those. Problem is, I hardly remember issue/chapter/portion doled out whenever everyone involved damn well feels like it 8; there was a hurricane in between my reading of it and my writing on it, you know. I remember there was Joker murdering that woman, preceded by him sporting a Yakuza tattoo on a Jim Lee drawn cover. That was unsettling, but I avoided joining the misogyny police over it, because the Joker strangling a woman post coitus ought to damn well be unsettling. I failed the misogyny police’s entrance exam, too. It’s the only standardized test in existence heavily weighted against middle class white males aged 18-35! They asked questions about Syliva Plath! And tampons!

Now that I’ve pissed off 50 percent of the world’s population (because I am sure every woman in the world reads my crap; well, I’m not that grandiose; I imagine they read Brian and come to me off his back), let’s talk about the rest of the issue. Catwoman shows up, in a pretty dumb costume. They generally lose me when she’s got ears. Of course, my two favorite costumes of hers are the long Slinky Dress she wore periodically from the ’50s until the ’70s and the one Cooke designed for her recently canned solo series. Regardelss of that, she doesn’t appear to be a hooker or madam, so there’s on for Miller on the gender relations tip!

The bit where Batman points how dumb Robin is to wear a hood; is that a shot at Damien G’Hul Wayne, or whatever we’re supposed to call Batman’s illegitimate son created by Grant Morrison (and/or during a night of passion in a GN from the ’80s)? I mean, the damn book’s been so long in coming out they could have jammed that in there at some point during the production, right? I’m mainly surprised I missed out on the outrage over it if it was what I was reading in to it. Surely Miller dissing Morrison is something some one on the internet would get all worked up about. I guess I could find out if I could bother go Google it, but I more or less expect this stuff to be beamed directly to my brain these days. Now that’s an RSS feed!

All Star Batgirl! I feel like talking about her. Mainly (entirely, really) because she’s the closest thing in the book to Lee having to draw a Miller character design. I mean, Black Canary looks like she’d fit right in with the Old Town Girls, but she always looks like that, which tends to make her forays outside comics fandom kinda dicey. Tween Batgirl there looks like an unused character design for Carrie Kelly or something. That’s the kind of thing I find interesting when two collaborators who seem to clash come together, beyond the novelty; you get things like Jim Lee drawing something that could have been in Dark Knight Strikes Again.

Also, the previous issue; Robin uses a battle axe on the guy who killed his parents. I just wanted to mention that, to affirm that it happened, and also admit that I thought it was awesome. This book is the Batman I wanted when I was 15 but never knew to ask for and am happy to have now.

Issue 8 was the closest thing to a set up issue this series had since the first one, and it didn’t have Vickie Vale being objectified to pad it out, so let’s move on to 9.

Issue 9 is all about Hal Jordan, Functional Retard being one upped by the Goddam Batman and Snotty Brat Robin. It was less like Batman’s constant trumping Superman and more like what happened a superhero ever wandered in to Garth Ennis’s Marvel Knights Punisher; it was that mean. It should have won the Eisner. For everything. Look, I like Hal Jordan as a product of his era (i.e. in Cooke’s New Frontier and only in Cooke’s New Frontier. Also Miller’s DKSA, ironically). But if Geoff Johns and co. can bring him back just to talk about how great he is and get the H.E.A.T. Guys off Ron Marz’s lawn, I’m glad we have this to balance it out.

Of course, it’s all fun and games until your wunderkind sidekick crushes a dude’s windpipe. The first Bat-tracheotomy that I can remember follows, and somewhere in there Batman realizes maybe dehumanizing a kid whose parents were just murdered, teaching him how to be living weapon, and then setting him loose on a defenseless rube with a useless power ring isn’t the best idea. And then it gets all sentimental and Robin finally gets to grieve, which is as good a way to cap the first volume of the book as any if you have to do more than perform emergency surgery on a dumb ass space cop in a single issue.

That left turn in to being more like a traditional superhero comic and less like one filtered through Miller’s sensibilities was a weird one. It looks like he was heading this way the whole time, even if I still kinda want to think he was making the whole thing up as he went along because DC will publish anything he cares to write about Batman, and he just realized that hey, I’m writing a superhero comic and not a longform Mad Magazine serial or something and decided to write the climax of issue 9 accordingly.

I mean, it would follow the established path of the myth for Robin to humanize Batman and take him from solitarily obsessed vigilante to a father figure. Robin’s whole existence has always been to contrast and temper Batman’s darkness. It makes sense for Robin to humanize Batman, pull him back from the brink, and vice versa. That’s part of his purpose, along with serving as Batman’s Holmes, comic relief, and homosexual partner when hacky stand up comics run out of Aquaman jokes.

But, you know, anyone can write that story. Many have. While it’s nice and all that Miller let some sentimentality seep in to his story to offset the single female lawyer stranglings and other general mayhem, I sure hope he doesn’t make a habit of it. Now that I’ve decided not to take it seriously, I don’t want Miller to start affecting that in any way. He has time to redeem himself and give me more of the adventures of half mad sociopath Batman and his snotty punk killing machine sidekick Robin that I’ve grown to know and love over the course of this series. I equally anticipate digging in to that second volume in 2011 and reviewing it in multiple parts then. But before then, I’ve got a couple more ideas for posts on this book to subject you all to.

Next: ASSBAR, inside the numbers!

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