All Star Batman and Robin, Vol. 1
The Boy Wonder
Written by Frank Miller
Drawn by Jim Lee
Colors by Alex Sinclair
Cover price: $24.99; Available now
In light of the upcoming Batman movie, The Dark Knight, I thought it would be appropriate to review a comic that also reflects the same ideals as the movie. A comic that, like the movie, decided to ignore previous incarnations of Batman and opt instead to create new stories using just the core concept of Batman. This comic is All Star Batman and Robin by Frank Miller.
Volume One, entitled The Boy Wonder, tells the origin of one Dick Grayson. At the end of their Flying Grayson circus act, young Dick Grayson witnesses the death of his parents by an assassin’s bullet. Thrust into a world of darkness, Grayson is “saved” by the mysterious Batman from a group of corrupt cops. The Batman offers him the chance to work alongside him, drafting Grayson into what Batman calls his “war” on crime.
Fans expecting to read a typical Batman comic are in for a shock. Miller’s Batman is not your typical Batman. In fact, he is a kid slapping, bad guy beating, sociopath. His rough and tough exterior, eerily reminiscent of Miller’s Batman from The Dark Knight Returns, is sure to cause quite a shock to those familiar with Batman. His portrayal of Robin is also quite surprising. Rather than a child scared and saddened by his parent’s death, he comes off as a “know it all” brat. Everyone from Superman, The Joker, and even Plastic Man comes off as rather strange. Everyone in the series all seem to have this big chip on their shoulder and even the usually optimistic Superman comes off as a jaded, morose fellow. The only character that even remotely resembles the character we have come to know is Batgirl.
The writing is also not on par with Miller’s better works. On several occasions, he would just repeat dialogue over and over again in an endless loop. When not repeating lines of dialogue, Miller fills his character’s mouths with dialogue that would fit perfectly if they came from a character in Sin City but from a character in the Bat-universe, just comes out all wrong. I wonder if it is due to the success of both the Sin City and 300 movies, that perhaps Miller has entered this realm of untouchable status where editors are hesitant to listen to their natural instincts and just edit this comic down.
With all this said though, I cannot say I was not thoroughly entertained by this comic. Total train wreck or not, All Star Batman is so deliciously bad that it does enter the realm of good. Whether it is the noir-ish dialogue or the truly bizarre reinterpretations of classic DC icons, it is a really fun and not too heavy thrill ride. Those not too concerned with continuity or characterization will totally get a kick out of this comic.
Good comic or not, the art by Jim Lee always delivers. There is not one single artist who can draw beautiful women, dynamic action sequences, and beautiful women involved in dynamics action sequences like Lee. If there is one thing that all Batman fans can agree on, it is that Lee’s rendition of Batman is tops. Lee essentially carries this book and makes a flawed product shine a bit brighter. For a full scope of Lee’s talents, check out his version of the Batcave in this book. It is nothing short of spectacular.
Sure, it is not the best Batman book out there, but as far as entertainment value (or maybe just being a spectacular train wreck), All Star Batman and Robin delivers. I thoroughly enjoyed it, flaws and all, quite possibly because the art was so gorgeous. Those not concerned with continuity and looking to just read a fun, yet odd Batman story are sure to find this book to be enjoyable. Hell, I think even hardcore fans can find something they like about this book, be it the chessy dialogue or the heavy usage of the words “The God Damned Batman.” While All Star Batman and Robin doesn’t quite reach its all star status, it certainly is not a benchwarmer by any means.