REVIEW: Batman and Robin #13

Batman & Robin #13

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Frazer Irving
Letters by Patrick Brosseau
Covers by Frank Quitely and Frazer Irving

$2.99 / 32 Pages / Full Color 

DC Comics

It takes a special kind of crazy to think you can clean up Gotham. All that sick in one place. 

Say what you gotta about Dark Knight Returns and Year One. They're the tops. The National Gallery. Garbo's sallary. Cellophane. No doubt.  But ask me, they're not quite the nose on the great Durante.

Me? I'm an Arkham Asylum boy. The Batman isn't just a jetset detective. He's the custodian of fear. Sickest of the sick. Craziest of the crazies. He just happens to have a hall pass. Maybe that's why I dig on rowdy Scot Grant Morrison's take on the character. Maybe you do too. It's twisted, right? It's fun in ways you might not want to admit. You read a page, shaking your head. But you're grinning.

Here on iFanboy, Batman and Robin routinely racks up over a thousand pulls. It's been breaking records from the start. It peaked though with the third issue, Frank Quitely's last (for now at least). He set the tone with that creepy, bawdy opening salvo. His covers are a constant reminder of that incredibly high benchmark. Barring one unfortunate misstep, art duties on the book have been handled capably in his absence. A must-read title with consistently high pull numbers. But no takers have usurped that artistic throne. Not quite. Not Quitely. Until, I think, today.

If Frazer Irving doesn't eclipse Quitely's visuals, he certainly toys with the gravity. It certainly doesn't feel as if he's housesitting. It's not his permanent home, but he's already got his boots under the bed and a new coat of paint on the walls. The recliner has conformed to the shape of his ass. He doesn't just know the neighbor girl's name, she's screamed his. Dude owns the book. At least for right now. Frank Quitely scratches itches that no juniper switch really can, but sitting here right now, eyes on the second floor and jaw down in the basement, I don't know whose work I prefer. Crab apples and blood oranges, I guess, but I feel like a harlot. I love my man like the air I breathe, but I'm itching to stray. 

This is how I see it. Frazer Irving is a very bad man and he conjures a kind of sex magic with his pencils. Let's talk about why that is. 

Evil Thomas Wayne's turn as Bacchus in an operatic S&M jaunt is only part of it.  There's also the Joker's permanent grin, depicted here as a true surgical deformity. Morrison's offered many Jokers in his time, each of them seemingly more sadistic than the last, but here he is at his most tragic. We don't feel for the sociopath, per se. It just makes his sickness all the murkier. It's truly disturbing to watch him fall from cocksure hysteria to remorse and fear without losing that smile.Then there's that truly old school take on Batman. Grayson looks young, so young that he's morphed into Bob Kane's Batman. Big ears, not just tall and pointies. Looks like a man in a bat costume. Offers the same vibe as Spider-Man when he's got the small eyes. 


Oh, and the lighting. The path to the Bat Bunker is pink. Hazy, foggy, three-in-the-AM downtown pink. Dick and the blind-folded Commissioner look like they're headed to a private sex club. Really, just the Bat Bunker. But even that is robin's egg blue, glowing in the dark like a digital watch from behind the counter at Caldor. Joker's holding cell, a seasick bowel brown. What Irving did with that second issue of Return of Bruce Wayne was a real trip. A real Lovecraftian rave. But here, his daring color choices are all about atmosphere and mood. Characters don't just pop out of the background, they're enveloped in it. They're ghosts; part of the air. 


Here we also see the extent of Damian's rage. He takes that crowbar (Morrison's choice of weapon is no accident), and with one swing he defines himself as a character, follows through on the whole promise. Damian Wayne really is a Robin gone bad. He'll do what Bruce and Dick are unwilling to do. And in doing so, we get why they haven't. 

We've seen the dominos as Morrison has lined them up. And now the fall. 

 

Story: 5     Art: 5     Overall: 5

 

Batman and Robin #13 is on shelves now. Add it to your pull list

Comments

  1. well done. Aces review. I’m going to hunt all of these down

  2. This issue is really good.  I have about 8 more books to read that I bought today, but I really just want to read this one again.

  3. Agreed. Fantastic issue and probably the best in a long time for this series.

  4. PymSlap (@alaska_nebraska) says:

    Can I give your review 5-stars?

  5. “He doesn’t just know the girl next door’s name, she’s screamed his”. Damn, Montgomery. Just…damn. That’s some descriptive prose, sir.

  6. "The recliner has conformed to the shape of his ass. He doesn’t just know the neighbor girl’s name, she’s screamed his."  Just tremendous.

    I can’t wait to read this.  I feel like the Joker reveal at the end of #12 kicked this book into another gear. 

  7. This was an excellent issue, the best synthesis of Morrison and Frazier Irving yet. The crowbar is such an important cypher…

  8. "Morrison’s weapon of choice is no accident"

    Well spotted.

  9. Jeez, I didn’t even catch the relevance of the crowbar until you mentioned it, Paul.

    Here’s the thing: I don’t always like Morrison’s current work, but I don’t think anyone can deny that Morrison is a writer who aims for the big picture while never losing sight of the details. Everything he does is very well structured and constructed. I sometimes have a problems with the narrative execution, but I never think it’s because it’s sloppy or ill-formed. 

    I didn’t care so much for RIP, but I have to say: both Batman & Robin and The Return of Bruce Wayne have been very, very well done. I’m stoked to watch the dominoes fall. Great review, Paul.

  10. Morrison’s run on Bat titles has been amazing. I think this is going down as the greatest run of Batman ever.

  11. This comic still going on?

  12. I have avoided this book since it came out. First because I didn’t want to get burned by Quitely’s lateness and then because I didn’t want to jump into something I had no idea about.

    You have changed my mind about that Paul. If I had known Fraser Irving was on this book earlier I would already be singing his praises. I bloody loved his work on Silent War and now I am going to have to pick up this book.

    Super review.

  13. I wasn’t a big fan of Irving’s art in the Return of Bruce Wayne issue.  I was expecting more of the same here but was pleasantly surprised. The art really stood out especially the colors, as Paul pointed out.  Several artist have had a hard time drawing Damian but Irving doesn’t. That scene with the Joker is superb. I have to say that haven’t really enjoyed Morrison’s Batman run either. However, what was missing in it Morrison seems to have tapped in Batman & Robin. It has the right blend of Morrison’s craziness with a little camp and nostalgia thrown in.  I love how more and more people realize that Dick isn’t the orginal Batman. My favorite line in this issue is where Commissioner Gordon tells Dick, "The other Batman called me Jim."

  14. Should I feel guilty that Damian’s actions in this issue have solidified him as my favorite "new" character?  He is positively dripping with character.  Good, bad, and ugly.  When he pulled out that crowbar, I new exactly what he was about to do and I was actually pulling for him to do it.  I feel dirty. 

    This issue is incredible.  As good as the first arc of this series (and that is saying something). I’m not a huge Frazer Irving fan, but his work here is very, very good.  I haven’t had this much fun with a single issue in quite some time.

    (Nice writeup Paul. I like these weekly reviews. Keep up the good work.) 

  15. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @stuclach – Oh, I agree. Damian is a fantastic character. He’s added so many new dimensions to the Bat family, and he works great for drama as well as comedy. This week’s Red Robin showcases Damian, Tim, and Dick’s great dynamic as brothers. Always enjoy reading scenes like that. 

  16. Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    You’re making it tough for me to wait for my DCBS order, Mr. Montgomery. Very, very tough.

  17. @PaulMontgomery – I thought Red Robin was very solid, as well.  I’m amazing that Mr. Morrison (and the other Bat-writers) have been able to craft him into such as solid character.  I certainly didn’t see him becoming so interesting or important to the Bat-books.

  18. Oops. That should be "I’m amazed" not "I’m amazing" (even though I am).

    My kingdom for an edit button. 

  19. Morrison and Irving totally blew me away with this issue, BAR#14 cannot come soon enough

  20. This review makes me want to rush home and read the issue again for the 4th time. Simply awesome Paul!

  21. Did anyone notice Professor Pyg is in the background of Dr. Hurt’s sexy party?

  22. Stunning art, story with the momentum of a runaway train, mind blowing opening scene but what I really loved was the interaction between Grayson and Jim Gordon.  Sublime characterisation.

  23. I loved this issue a ton.  As someone who jumped into the Batbooks right at the time of Battle for the Cowl, however, I didn’t know that the evil Thomas Wayne we were seeing is apparently someone named Dr. Hurt?  Who was involved in RIP?  I really want to go back and read Morrison’s Batman run from the beginning.  I’d love it if they collected all of these stories in the same format as the Starman Omnibus–Absolutes are too clunky for me, and I suppose I could buy it in 8 or 9 trades right now, but would like something a bit fancier.  Anyway, despite not picking up on all the subtext (though I did spot the crowbar) this was one of my favorite single issues ever.  Great stuff.