Review by: JDC

Size: 168 pages
Price: 24.99

When Bruce Wayne “died” at the hands of Darkseid in 2009’s Final Crisis, rather than die with him, the Bat-franchise exploded into so many ongoing series that I honestly lost count. But there was one that stood above all the others: Batman & Robin, starring former Boy Wonder Dick Grayson as Batman, and recently revealed offspring Damian Wayne as Robin. Fun, colourful and action-packed, fans and critics alike loved this series a lot more than anybody could have expected.

But now Bruce is back, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that the kids would have to pack up their toys now that Daddy was home as I unknowingly dove into the ominously titled Batman and Robin Must Die!

And that is the greatest thing about Grant Morrison’s time writing Batman: It feels like anything could happen and nothing is set in stone. It’s like a rollercoaster in the dark, and I don’t know when it’s going to stop.

Frazer Irving’s art (seen here in the first three issues) is the best companion I’ve seen to Morrison’s story style. It’s creepy, strange, unique, and most certainly jaw-dropping. I’m not normally one of those weird kids dressed in black who wear heavy eye makeup and sit at the back of the class, but I found the panel of Damian cracking Joker across the face with a crowbar beautiful, all thanks to Irving.

Oh yeah, the Joker also returns in this story, having remained off-the-radar since the events of Batman R.I.P. And Morrison writing the Joker is a deadly combination. He’s elegant, highly-intelligent, and frighteningly focused, yet still unpredictable and flamboyant. Am I talking about the character or the writer? Heh.

Despite my initially worries, Bruce’s return does nothing to undermine Dick or Damian. Those two have a brilliant and much-discussed dynamic, carefully constructed over this whole series, and not even the original Dark Knight can overshadow it. Within seconds of his triumphant entrance, the whole game has changed, throwing the bad guys on the ropes and giving the good guys (and readers) a visible morale boost.

Batman & Robin is known for packing so much excitement into so few pages, and this collection is no different. We get the first real two-hander between Commissioner Gordon and Dick Grayson’s Batman; the explosive culmination of the “next generation of crime” subplot; a shocking public revelation by Bruce Wayne; and much more. It feels like a good-old-fashioned day out at the movies.

And so, Grant Morrison wraps up his time on the series in style. Surely he’s going to take a well-earned break while the Bat Family settles back into the comfortable status quo?

Hell no. Batman: The Return sets up what’s coming next for everybody in the Batman mythos. It’s new, it’s exciting, it’s unique, and it’s a little bit scary too. This is truly a landmark in comics history. I’ve been reading Batman comics for a while, and this is the first time that I’ve been able to say that I have absolutely no idea what lies ahead. And I love it.

But if you are not so confident, just remember the one dominant theme of Grant Morrison’s run: There will always be a Batman so long as the night is dark.

Story: 4 - Very Good
Art: 4 - Very Good

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