Review by: flapjaxx

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community think?

Avg Rating: 4.5
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Size: pages
Price: 2.99

Well, this was about what I expected. It’s the good opening issue this series deserved. As opposed to the guy who wrote Final Crisis, the Invisibles, and Batman RIP (three very different stories that have one thing in common: they’re difficult, innovative, complex stories that wear their flaws on their sleeves), Batman & Robin #1 is written by the Grant Morrison who wrote JLA, All-Star Superman and the first arc of New X-Men. In other words, the storytelling here is relatively standard fare; the story and its setting are inviting and somewhat interesting without being overwhelming, disorienting, or terribly innovative.

I like the guy who wrote Batman RIP a lot more…but this is still fine.

Honestly, guys, if I didn’t like this issue I was going to stop caring about comics on a weekly basis. Deciding “Eh…I’m gonna wait for the trade on this series” would have meant that I wouldn’t’ve been frequenting the comic shop much anymore…or going on iFanboy much anymore. I’m just at a point where nothing really interests me too much on an active basis. As it is, Morrison’s Batman & Robin is just good enough to string me along and keep me in the monthly-comic-reading habit. Why was it just enough, exactly? Why was it if I only give the issue a 3/4, a 4/4, and a 3.5/4 overall? Because of the four preview panels on the last page, that’s why. Because what’s coming in the next year looks so good. Is that Bruce Wayne’s Batman rising from the river Styx or something? Is that Dr. Hurt with a key to Wayne Manor? I can’t miss that. I’m not waiting for the trade for that stuff.

By the way, the villain of this first issue was first mentioned in the classic Batman #666. So there’s a lot going on behind the scenes with this story, though this issue seems deceptively simple.

To disperse with standard reviewing: Quitely’s art here was, I think, a little less fantastic than what I’m usually used to from him. It’s been noted before that sometimes he makes faces look ugly when they shouldn’t look ugly. Here the faces don’t look so ugly but they sometimes look…blurry or sketchy. I bet they’d look “ugly” (to the people who think Quitely draws “ugly” faces) if the pencilling was tighter. And I’d rather have tightly drawn “ugly” faces than blurry sketchy faces that aren’t “ugly”. This wasn’t the home-run Quitely that the hype would lead me to believe it wast. But that’s fine. Also, I didn’t get enough full-on profiles of Dick, Damian and Alfred. I would have liked it if I got really tight, detailed, close-up headshots of them (sans masks, btw), so then I would have a really good idea of what Quitely’s facial model for them was. I didn’t get that…so as it is I feel like Quitely’s character models are a bit undefined… That’s fine–it’s not like every time an artist takes over a title they “need” to establish the faces clearly 100% perfect in the first issue–but it’s still an imperfection in my opinion. Art 4/5.

As for Morrison’s writing…there were a few sour bits of dialogue. Overall the plot of the issue felt a LOT like Batman #676, the first part of RIP, because it started with Batman and Robin in the Batmobile tracking down a low-level villain…then there were the Bat-family scenes with Alfred…then the issue ended with the appearance of a villain. Oddly, I don’t feel like Morrison DID enough with this parallel. Batman & Robin #1 parallels Batman #676…so I feel like he could have included some “Easter Eggs” for the readers who would have noticed that. What sort of “Easter Eggs”? Do I want Morrison to send me a candy bar for noticing this parallel? Uh, no…but I just feel like it was an opportunity missed. And, I mean, WHY HAVE the structure of this issue parallel the first part of RIP if it’s not for a reason of some sort? I mean, why make that connection if there’s no point, other than the fact that it’s kind of interesting to notice? Again, not bad writing by any means, but I just feel like it was kind of an opportunity lost. Instead it seems like Morrison just completely catered to the new readers here; it was almost like he was afraid to throw in even an oblique reference to the fact that this paralleled Batman #676…afraid to reference much of anything from his previous run, period…because that might have made fans who disliked RIP feel a bit too uncomfortable, might have given them bad flashbacks of that great, flawed, innovative, insane, brilliant story too soon after Morrison has returned to the character. Writing 3/5.

All in all, this feels a lot like Flash Rebirth #1 to me. I like Batman more than Flash, because Batman’s a better character than Flash (;-)), so I give this a 4/5 whereas the Flash book I gave a 3/5. Also, I believe that Morrison is a far superior writer than Johns, but he sure didn’t show it here; in this comic Morrison did not display a hint of his range or depth as a writer, as a pop cultural theorist, or as a mad shaman. And by the way I think both #1 issues, this one and Flash Rebirth, have been way overhyped and overpraised, but that’s those guyses’ faults, the faults of the overpraiserers who need to love something to death or need to have something new to regard as the “best ___ ever!” every other week. I hate that overhype stuff…it makes me want to leave town. It’s an affront to my brain and critical reasoning skills. 😛

I don’t view there as being “a good Grant Morrison who writes one way” and “a bad Grant Morrison who writes another way”. While I recognize the fact that Morrison can write in different styles (and to say that there’s just two of them is a serious oversimplification), I think he’s also turned out vastly different qualities of work within each style. I love some of his JLA issues but am unmoved by most of them, because they’re too routine, too typical mainstream super-hero-y. And while I love some of his past Batman stories…”Arkham Asylum” screams pseudo-meaningful dreck to me, someone aping Neil Gaiman at the time…and I didn’t like the more recent Batman & Son much either. So, I expect the first year of Batman & Robin will be full of different types of stories. All you guys who loved this issue but hated RIP, sorry to burst your bubble. It makes a LOT of sense for Morrison to open the book with a straightforward arc…but I’m sure he’ll switch things up and tell more interesting, more innovative, more confusing, more inspired stories in later arcs. And I’m sure I’ll like those stories a lot more than I like this opening one so far. But even this opening story, as straightforward, as typical and as routine as it seems…even this is good enough for me, for now.

Story: 3 - Good
Art: 4 - Very Good


  1. With Morrison’s structure, from what I’ve seen, you’re not rewarded for noticing similarities with little in jokes. The similarity *is* the reward. It’s part of the serial story structure. Indeed, this issue’s title is also "Batman Reborn" the parallel is then obvious: The opening to both arcs (RIP and Reborn) is similar. 

    Still good review. Though Batman is not a better character than the Flash. 😉 That’s just a silly thing to say. 

  2. Tell me, do you like anything?  And how’s the air up there atop your high horse?*

    *Please no one get offended.  It was just some good natured ribbing.  And yes, that’s what she said.

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