Batman and Robin #9

Story by
Art by
Cameron Stewart
Colors by
Tony Aviña
Letters by
Pat Brosseau
Cover by
DC Comics

Some of the people who hang out at the new "Scans Daily" may not believe this, but Batwoman returns to life in this issue. I know it looked like she was dead last issue -- and she was -- but there's no reason to panic or rage against DC Comics. Her death was all part of the plan, as anyone who actually read issue #8 might have assumed, since she was right next to a Lazarus Pit and all.

Other plot points of interest: Mental Resurrected Bat-doppelganger vs. Alfred Pennyworth and Damian Wayne; Mental Resurrected Bat-doppelganger going more and more mental as the story progresses, his fractured memories tearing him apart; Batwoman's dad coming to the rescue, sort of; Dick Grayson coming to the rescue for real; and the Knight and Squire doing plenty of punching in the end.

"Batman and Robin" is a fun, fast-paced issue. And while Tony Avina's coloring makes everyone look a bit sooty and wet, though highlighted by a 500-watt beam, Cameron Stewart does a fantastic job telling the story visually. This isn't his "Seaguy" style -- it's a bit chunkier and a bit grittier. But it's still Stewart through-and-through, and whether he's giving us splash pages of Batman swinging across the skyline or twelve-panel pages of characters in combat, he knows how to make everything look interesting and dynamic. Even with the top-notch artists scheduled to work on this series in coming months, Stewart will be missed.

It's impossible to read this comic without thinking about it as a Grant Morrison comic, though. Well, it's impossible if you've been reading Morrison's run all along. Or if you're me. Or both. And this entire series has held a strange place in the Morrison oeuvre. It trucks in far less subtext and far less symbolism than even his previous superhero work. Even "JLA," seemingly a widescreen action comic, explored some of the same metaphysical notions as the more cerebral stories found in Morrison's "The Invisibles." But "Batman and Robin" mostly skims the surface of the superhero world, playing with some of the tropes commonly associated with Batman -- the page of Dick Grayson swooping in to save the falling Damian recalls a splash page from Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Returns," the Lazarus Pit is a staple of Bronze Age Batman tales, and the break-in at the Wayne residence is an old Batman convention as well -- one used by Morrison himself in his work on the main series in 2008.

Yet this is a very good superhero comic, full of action and adventure in the right doses, a few agile bits of characterization -- the words between the Knight and Batman, both second-generation superheroes, are particularly incisive -- and though this series may not have a whole lot of meaning to unpack or pages to annotate, it's one of the best ongoing DC comics right now. If not the best.

And if "Final Crisis" was about the Modern Age of brooding superheroes coming to an end, then this is a great series from which to launch a new age. One of thrills and excitement. A high-speed rollicking ride for a new generation. Even if it hasn't fully lived up to its potential yet.

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