batmanrobin8PICON.jpg

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.  Since they weren’t available, I had to settle for Stephen and Matthew.  Okay youse guys, make with the smart-ass comments.


batmanrobin8COVER.jpgBatman and Robin #8
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Cameron Stewart
Colors: Tony Avina
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover: Frank Quitely and Cameron Stewart

Previously in Batman and Robin:  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.  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.  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.  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?  Grant is known for killer ideas and wild plot points that other writers wouldn’t dare touch.  “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.  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, it’s what I’ve come to expect with GM.

MATTHEW: Definitely, but that falls under the positive column for me.  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.  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 ongoing  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*  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 Schultz…  The last couple of arcs of this book have gone waaaay overboard with the heebies, and it’s not like I don’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?  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.  I don’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.  Batwoman is just about as dead as Jean Grey.  There’s obviously a big switcheroo coming on that one.  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.  My major issue with this book, actually, comes with the swervy-looking “death” 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.  I suspect that this was intentional, though…  As far as the guest stars go, I’m enjoying Beryl (The Squire) more than anyone else in the book, actually.

STEPHEN: I like the interesting characters.  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 “hear” the words aloud.  It’s the same thing that you do when you try to imitate another’s dialect…  Ignore the words and focus on the actual phonics of the word, see.  “G’day, myte, would ye loik some styke an’ kidney poy?”

STEPHEN: I’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.  There’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.  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.  It almost feels like a series of vignettes until we get the money shot of dead Batman leaping out of the Lazarus Pit.  The images work, indeed, they’re quite pretty, but it’s hard to follow how they move from one to the next…

STEPHEN: Why can’t they just let Damian die?  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 won’t ever kill off Jimmy Olsen.  Damian is exactly what makes Bat-fans happy, he’s all dark and gritty and fighty fighty and terse.  I don’t know why you hate him so much, when he acts just like the worst aspects of his father in the 90’s.  Damian is practically blood-kin to Frank Miller.  I don’t think that fitting together is an issue in comics anymore, only that the trades are of manageable size.  The question of when this happens to Dick, Kate, Damian and company is obvious:  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.  I was pleasantly surprised when the first two or three issues of the series were rockin’ out and brought the fun back to the series. Now, I’m not so sure.  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.  It makes sense, and ultimately, that’s what I want in my comics.  I don’t know about you, but I’m giving this issue 2 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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.  This issue, though, is a case of lots and lots stuffed into a small bag.  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.  This feels like a case of someone with so much going on that they can’t articulate it all clearly, and the art doesn’t particularly help.  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.  For me, though, it’s not a bad issue, but it’s hardly world-shattering.  Grant Morrison’s run on this book has made me interested in seeing what’s going on in the world of Batman, which is probably the highest praise I can give a writer.  As a non-Batman fan (and someone who doesn’t want to murder one of the leads) I would be perfectly willing to give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s better than many Batman tales I’ve read, and depending on how it ends (if we get a new ongoing villain out of it, I’m going to be highly pissed) it could be excellent.

Rating: ★★★½☆

ROBOT OVERLORD: There you have it, Dear Reader, the weekly discussion, and this time, there is a distinct difference in opinion.

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Author

Robot Overlord

Robot Overlord

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9 Comments

  1. astrodinosaurus
    February 15, 2010 at 6:07 am — Reply

    I hope they keep Batshit-Batman as a character even after Bruce is back. Just imagine the fun he and Joker could have.

  2. Evlyn
    February 15, 2010 at 8:25 am — Reply

    I enjoyed the first issues of Batman & Robin. But the last two issues really lost me. I din’t catch any references, the pacing was way too fast for me, it felt like jump cuts all the time. And since I read detective comic, the presence of Batwoman just confused me. On the positive side I enjoyed the Squire. But how the new arc is not new reader friendly,discourage me and turn me off. I also missed many references in the first issues, but the pacing was nice, I had the time to get attached or curious about the characters. I liked it, I was interested and I even searched some names on wikipedia to learn more about those characters.

  3. Alvarlux
    February 15, 2010 at 12:19 pm — Reply

    I find this whole Batman arc to be too similar to the recent Captain America death arc…

    1 – Long leadup plot to destroy the hero
    2 – Hero seems to be dead
    3 – ‘Sidekick’ replaces hero
    4 – ‘Sidekick’ fights ‘Crazy Clone’ version of Hero
    5 – Hero turns out to not be dead but rather ‘Lost in time’

    All I’m saying is has anyone seen Ed Brubaker and Grant Morrison in the same room at the same time?

  4. Ben Gebhart
    February 15, 2010 at 2:48 pm — Reply

    Personally, I love the way Morrison mixes the 50’s wackiness with the modern darkness and adult-minded storytelling. I respect and applaud it when a writer goes out of their way to explain in mundane detail how each and every character appearing in their book came to be there, I really do, but I also love it when comic characters can team-up in a fun way just because…it’s comic books.

    I personally feel if more creative teams focused on telling a good story, like this one is, rather than trying to bog half the page-count down with recaps and explanations, we’d have a better output of comics on our hands. Of course, Continuity Nazis will always speak-out in droves, but hey…can’t please everyone.

    So while Batwoman’s appearance in the book may not mesh well with what’s up in DETECTIVE, it’s still a Batwoman appearance, and that should never be seen as a bad thing. F’Continuity, after all!

    • February 15, 2010 at 9:52 pm — Reply

      I personally feel if more creative teams focused on telling a good story, like this one is, rather than trying to bog half the page-count down with recaps and explanations, we’d have a better output of comics on our hands. Of course, Continuity Nazis will always speak-out in droves, but hey…can’t please everyone.

      A good story is always a good idea.

      A good story that references dozens of other stories without giving you context as to what they MEAN is more problematic. I don’t know that asking for clarity is quite the same as a continuity nazi, but your mileage, as always, may vary.

    • Evlyn
      February 16, 2010 at 6:35 am — Reply

      I agree that continuity is not that important and that some appearance are just nice.
      I think the presence of Batwoman wouldn’t have confuse me if it had been more organically weaved into the story instead of brusquely pasted into the plot.
      I don’t mind sudden jumpcuts or flashforward, but in those two issues I felt like all the story elements where forced on me, and because of this I dint really care about them.
      I also agree that recap are boring. There was no recaps in the first sixth issues and the storytelling was great, so I was intrigued about what I din’t know instead of being repelled by it.

  5. GeorgeWook
    February 15, 2010 at 4:03 pm — Reply

    Wasn’t too impressed by this issue, and I thought the whole ‘Evil Clone’ thing was a bit lame after leading us to believe Bruce Wayne was going to be resurrected – though i guess it does explain the blackest night thing.

    Have to say I was really irked by the awful attempt at showing ‘English’ accents, and the fact that all the english guys seemed to be portrayed as bumbling lunatics.. especially the villain who was supposed to be from Newcastle – though I guess it probably annoyed me more than most because I’m from Newcastle myself!!

    It seemed like Grant just picked some Geordie expressions and randomly inserted them into the characters dialogue – one sentence would be in plain english then the next would be in ‘dialect’ – and the expressions were often out of context!

    I’m pretty sure Grant is Scottish, so I’m surprised he couldn’t do convincing english characters… on the other hand, as a Scotsman I suspect he may have been intentionally taking the piss out of the English!

  6. morpheus
    February 16, 2010 at 8:48 am — Reply

    This is a title that I want to like. I have always enjoyed Batman and Gotham City outside of the comics, but every time I try to get into a series I am left in the dust.

    I felt like this specific issue was paced way too fast and I didn’t know there were any references to past titles b/c I didn’t read them. Whatever happened to the editor notes that told you what issue to check out when there was a reference. Those would help point readers of the title to different back stories. This would be a huge help for me.

    With all that said, I don’t know how much longer I will be picking up this book. I think it is ok, but I find myself losing interest as I am reading the book b/c I don’t understand it. If this is how Morrison writes how does he get any new readers on one of his books?

  7. ~wyntermute~
    February 16, 2010 at 6:44 pm — Reply

    “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?”

    Quoted for Truth. Though I suspect G-Mo doesn’t really give a fig about “fitting in”, seeing as he torched “Countdown to Final Crisis” and was peeved that nobody took up many of the ideas he intro-ed in “7 Soldiers”. His “thing” is building the most unique, most far-out sandcastle on the beach, regardless of whether or not it survives high tide…. Man, is it just me, or is that one hell of a metaphor? I hadda pat myself on the back for that, and now I’m off to get my dislocated shoulder fixed. ^_^

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