Batman and Robin: Batman Vs. Robin

Everyone knows that Grant Morrison’s writing can be a bit overwhelming if you jump in during the middle. That’s precisely what I did with his Batman and Robin series by jumping on in the second collected volume.

World be damned, this was a very straight forward story aside from the Oberon Sexton subplot (that ran itself through this whole series…thanks Wikipedia) and some references to the “Return of Bruce Wayne” story line.

Mainly this deals with Dick Grayson (now taking the role of Batman) and Damian Wayne (Batman’s long-forgotten son) investigating the possibility of Batman not having died at the end of Final Crisis.

The first half of the book has the Dynamic duo heading over to England to team up with Batwoman, as well as Knight and Squire (imagine a knight themed, British version of Batman and Robin), to protect a Lazarus Pit that a bunch of local super villains are fighting over. Things take a turn from the worse when Dick tries to resurrect what he assumed was the remains of Bruce, but turns out to be one of the Batman clones that Darkseid had made during Final Crisis. This mistake winds up almost costing Batwoman and Damian their lives.

Once everyone gets back to Gotham City, Dick and Damian discover some weird bat references in some old Wayne family portraits and artifacts, wondering if Bruce is time travelling (they’re smart; that’s the whole basis of “Return of Bruce Wayne” is about). Because being a super hero is never easy, Damian’s body is controlled by nanotechnology by his mother Talia in an effort to kill Dick for two reasons:

  1. Dick’s been trying to convince Damian that it’s not his destiny to take his mother’s role as the head of the League of Assassins, and urging him to use his talents/skills to help people, a concept which Talia despises.
  2. She really hates him.

Obviously our heroes survive, as the series went on for a while. Morrison wrote a great comic. What he excelled at was making Damian such an interesting character, especially with his relationships with everyone around him.

Damian acts like a smart-ass to Alfred, who takes it in stride. You can only imagine how insufferable Bruce was as a child.

Damian also has this weird brother/father/mentor relationship with Dick. Even though Damian considers himself to be the superior of the two, you get the feeling that he looks to Dick for guidance and approval. Also, it’s a total flip of the usual Batman/Robin dynamic; Dick is the more relaxed, easy-going one and Damian is the intense brooding character. This works really well.

There’s also a series of weirdness that Damian has with his parents. Even though he’s only been briefly united with his father, he is convinced that he is still alive. Compare that to his dealings with his mother Talia, who is completely detached with him. At the end of the book, she disowned him for not wanting to follow her in the family business, going so far to let him know that she has a clone of him that has taken his place as her son.

I don’t think she’s getting a Mother’s Day card.

Anyway, I was glad I picked this up and look forward to getting the rest of the series. It’s definitely a Batman story (even if it isn’t the traditional Batman), but its very light and easy going in tone (yes…there’s violence and conflict, but its not  beating you over the head).

Good job, Mr. Morrison.

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