Or – “A Bat In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Cretaceous Period…”
ROBOT OVERLORD: I the benevolent Robot Overlord have once again summoned the two greatest minds this website has to offer, and have thrown them in the arena to battle it out with their enlarge cerebellums over the merits of Batman and Robin #8.Â Since they werenâ€™t available, I had to settle for Stephen and Matthew.Â Okay youse guys, make with the smart-ass comments.
Previously in Batman and Robin:Â Dick Grayson entered the role of Dark Knight with a couple of ticks in the plus column (years of experience for one, a successful run as leader of the Titans, and a sensahumor ta boot) and a few in the minus (Damian Wayne-Al Ghul as his Robin, the shadow of Bruce Wayne, and a sensahumor) but overall his first missions were successful.Â Ironically, one of the first things that the replacement Batman had to do was take down the replacement Robin, facing off with Jason Todd in his new guise as the Red Hood.Â Todd really set things in motion for this issue, mocking Dick and reminding the new Dark Knight that he’ll never be as good as the original.Â Jason also mentions the Lazarus Pit, which sets Richard and Damian on the path to resurrect Bruce Wayne, once and for all…
STEPHEN: GRANT MORRISON!
MATTHEW: I know, right?Â Grant is known for killer ideas and wild plot points that other writers wouldn’t dare touch.Â “Why don’t they just stick him in a Lazarus Pit?” is the first thing that I asked when we found out that Bruce was in the bleedin’ choir invisibule, and Grant takes that to it’s not-so-very logical extreme here, sending Batman, Robin, Batwoman, The Knight and the Squire (from the excellent Club of Heroes arc pre-RIP) off to dip the Bat-corpse in mystical whoozywhatsis goop…
STEPHEN: I will give Morrison some credit here as he is finally starting to pull together elements first introduced two years ago into story moments that are starting to make sense.Â Granted, one has to have been reading every Grant Morrison DC title for the past two years in order to understand any of it, but then again, itâ€™s what Iâ€™ve come to expect with GM.
MATTHEW: Definitely, but that falls under the positive column for me.Â Grant is, after all, the man who took his first DC writing gig and turned what could have been standard issue costumed antics into a love letter to old comics, including trips to comic limbo, a Crisis on more earths than ever before, and even a visit by the main character to meet the writer himself.Â Grant is the master of planting a plot thread or offhand remark (like Jason’s tirade about the Pit) that later becomes crucial to the ongoingÂ storyline.
STEPHEN: Is it me, or did this series start off really fresh and young, and then suddenly turn into a crazed dark story that jumps from plot point to plot point like one of my ex-girlfriends jumping from one guy to another?
MATTHEW: *Circles Yes*Â It’s hard to take a character like Batwoman, whose own book involves mass-murder, psychosis, families killed on panel and comes from a very a dark and spooky place, and put her in a story that makes her regular series seem like a Disney movie written by Charles Schultzâ€¦Â The last couple of arcs of this book have gone waaaay overboard with the heebies, and itâ€™s not like I donâ€™t have a full plate of jeebies to begin with.
STEPHEN: I wonder if Morrison is trying to once again make a comment or reflect on the last 40 years of comics?Â In the Silver Age, everything was fun and shiny, but as time progressed to the Modern Age, everything is dark and brooding, and really not a lot of fun. I see the same things happening with this series.Â I donâ€™t HATE the major plot point in this issue (clone crazy Batman doing crazy clone Batman things), but I think the Batwoman death and Squire getting the crapcakes knocked out of her might have upset you.
MATTHEW: Yeeeah.Â Batwoman is just about as dead as Jean Grey.Â Thereâ€™s obviously a big switcheroo coming on that one.Â Ironically, though, one of the last stories that counts as Bronze Age also featured the murder of Kathy Kane, the Batwoman, in Detective Comics #485 or so.Â My major issue with this book, actually, comes with the swervy-looking â€œdeathâ€ of Batwoman, especially since the first third of the issue is about a return from the dead, and the page RIGHT BEFORE she claims to be paralyzed and dies, we see Damian returning from having his spine repaired from what should have been paralyzing.Â I suspect that this was intentional, thoughâ€¦Â As far as the guest stars go, Iâ€™m enjoying Beryl (The Squire) more than anyone else in the book, actually.
STEPHEN: I like the interesting characters.Â The Pearlies and the chimney sweep thugs are interesting – I just wish I could speak the tongue.
MATTHEW: You just have to say it aloud in your head, and allow yourself to â€œhearâ€ the words aloud.Â Itâ€™s the same thing that you do when you try to imitate anotherâ€™s dialectâ€¦Â Ignore the words and focus on the actual phonics of the word, see.Â â€œGâ€™day, myte, would ye loik some styke anâ€™ kidney poy?â€
STEPHEN: Iâ€™m sure Dan from down under appreciates you shouting out in your best Dick Van Dyke every chance you get…
MATTHEW: Shut it, Francis.
STEPHEN: To me, the bright shining light in this entire issue is the art by Cameron Stewart.Â Thereâ€™s something about his style that bring the best of Quitely, Matt Wagner, Phil Noto, and others into one glorious page of detail, layout and design.Â Stewart captures the action in each panel at the peak of each action move and makes the page sing. On top of that, the colors as readers move from the underground Lazarus Pit to the dark and stormy English countryside, and even to the Wayne tower dwellings, the colors sell this issue.
MATTHEW: Yeah, I like that bit, but the storytelling suffers for me, especially in the beginning of the book.Â It almost feels like a series of vignettes until we get the money shot of dead Batman leaping out of the Lazarus Pit.Â The images work, indeed, theyâ€™re quite pretty, but itâ€™s hard to follow how they move from one to the nextâ€¦
STEPHEN: Why canâ€™t they just let Damian die?Â And how the hell are they (those beings at DC that decide such things) going to fit this series in with the rest of the Batman titles?
MATTHEW: Same reason that they wonâ€™t ever kill off Jimmy Olsen.Â Damian is exactly what makes Bat-fans happy, heâ€™s all dark and gritty and fighty fighty and terse.Â I donâ€™t know why you hate him so much, when he acts just like the worst aspects of his father in the 90â€™s.Â Damian is practically blood-kin to Frank Miller.Â I donâ€™t think that fitting together is an issue in comics anymore, only that the trades are of manageable size.Â The question of when this happens to Dick, Kate, Damian and company is obvious:Â At Some Point.
STEPHEN: When it was announced Morrison was coming back with another Batman series, half the world probably heard my eyes roll in the back of my head.Â I was pleasantly surprised when the first two or three issues of the series were rockinâ€™ out and brought the fun back to the series. Now, Iâ€™m not so sure.Â I liked that we are seeing closure to story elements introduced and seemingly dropped long ago, and I think Morrison just let slip how the Batman can be alive in the past, while Black Hand carries around the skull of Batman.Â It makes sense, and ultimately, thatâ€™s what I want in my comics.Â I donâ€™t know about you, but Iâ€™m giving this issue 2 out of 5 Stars.
MATTHEW: Grant Morrison is a brilliant writer, whose stories often outstrip his own ability to sit down and tell them, with universal consequences, great moments, and plot points that are blindingly obvious in retrospect that SOMEHOW, no one ever thought of before.Â This issue, though, is a case of lots and lots stuffed into a small bag.Â The key point (a moment involving the father of Orion, presumably during Final Crisis) is done as a half-page flashback that I almost missed during my first reading.Â This feels like a case of someone with so much going on that they canâ€™t articulate it all clearly, and the art doesnâ€™t particularly help.Â I wonder what a Phil JIminez or a Frank Quitely or a Jim Lee might have done with this one, and whether it would have made you love it whole-heartedly.Â For me, though, itâ€™s not a bad issue, but itâ€™s hardly world-shattering.Â Grant Morrisonâ€™s run on this book has made me interested in seeing whatâ€™s going on in the world of Batman, which is probably the highest praise I can give a writer.Â As a non-Batman fan (and someone who doesnâ€™t want to murder one of the leads) I would be perfectly willing to give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.Â Itâ€™s better than many Batman tales Iâ€™ve read, and depending on how it ends (if we get a new ongoing villain out of it, Iâ€™m going to be highly pissed) it could be excellent.
ROBOT OVERLORD: There you have it, Dear Reader, the weekly discussion, and this time, there is a distinct difference in opinion.