Even though Grant Morrison started Batman and Robin off with a strong first arc, thanks to the help of Frank Quietly, the second arc dealing with the return of Jason Todd was horrible. The last arc was just a big disappointment as it felt that Morrison was just rushing things along to get to the big reveal of Dick having Bruce’s body locked up. And this issue is supposed to continue that story with Dick trying to revive Bruce somehow. I have my questions about this with how we all know that Bruce isn’t going to return until the “Return of Bruce Wayne” mini-series later this year. So with my expectations so low maybe Morrison will be able to surprise me with Batman and Robin #7. Hit the jump for my review of Batman and Robin #7.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Cameron Stewart
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The issue begins with Dick Grayson wearing his Batman costume carrying what looks like Bruce’s body from the end of Final Crisis in his arms.
We then quickly shift to an unknown amount of time to England where Batman is saving people from a tower. After he saves everyone he asks Squire what is next over a communicator. She says that King Coal has one more bomb planted that would wipe out England from Google Earth. Batman starts jumping from boat to boat, from car to car, and from building to building to reach Squire. They ride of to get to and go underground reaching a subway where Batman jumps onto and disarms a bomb attached to a person.
In Basement 101, the Queen’s prison, Batman is informed by the warden of the prison what his duties are and some of the villains in the prison. The warden, while talking non-stop, takes Batman to meet the Pearly King of Crime.
The Pearly King of Crime welcomes Batman to his well kept cell. Batman says that Pearly King of Crime knows why he is there. And Pearly guesses that it is because Batman saved one his boys, Eddie, from King Coal and now wants a favor in return. Batman says that King Coal gambled using real people and lost. Then Batman shows Pearly the domino he got from Pyg. Pearly begins to talk about the current gang war going on in England and those who are involved.
Batman gets enough of Pearly’s talk and asks him where the Pit is and if it is worth thousands of lives. While continuing to play his game of domino’s Pearly tells Batman that while he does owe Batman for saving one of his men his lips are sealed when it comes to talking about the Pit.
Outside the prison Batman meets up with Squire with Squire asking Batman about the diagram’s she sent to Knight. Batman says that he sent Knight on a special mission and that his current partner is out of commission.
The scene shifts to Talia Al Ghul’s secret base where her med crew is working on healing Damian after he got shot in the back (see Batman and Robin #6 for how Damian got shot). Talia tells Alfred that Damian will be returned to his care within 48 hours and tells Alfred to leave until that time. Alfred says that he agrees that Damian is remarkable and feels safe leaving him in Talia’s care. Talia talks about how even though Damian is going through a phase of questioning who he is that it is just a phase and he will soon accept his destiny as the heir of Al Ghul. As Alfred leaves Talia asks him if he actually thinks that Bruce is dead and Alfred say he saw Bruce’s body with his own eyes.
Using a version of a Batcopter (that looks like something Batman and Robin used in Superfriends) Batman and Squire arrive to Knight’s current location. Batman tells Squire that they are walking into a dead zone. Squire looks at some tracks wondering what they are and Batman tells her that they are men’s tracks carrying something heavy.
As Batman and Squire go down a tunnel Squire mentions how Dick and Cyril are similar in that they have taken the roles of their former mentors (Cyril, the current Knight, used to be the first Squire with Cyril’s father being the first Knight). As they make their way down the tunnel they see a guy glowing yellow and begin fighting that guy and a bunch of other yellow glowing guys. They finally reach Knight who is also fighting a bunch of glowing guys.
Once all of the glowing guys are taken care of Batman, Knight, and Squire continue down the tunnel and Batman mentions that light they saw is a lost Lazarus Pit. They find a coffin with Batwoman suddenly coming out of it. She asks what the hell she is doing there (with a weird panel that is a clear mistake by the editor and letterer of this comic). Batman tells Batwoman that he and Bruce made an agreement that if Bruce’s life ever was in danger that he (Dick) would have Bruce’s back and save him, and vice versa, because they were not only brothers but best friends (BFFs).
Batman, Batwoman, Knight, and Squire finally reach the Lazarus Pit and Batwoman says that Batman knows that by raising Bruce from the dead using the Lazarus Pit he will go crazy. Batman says that is why he and the rest of them are there in order subdue Bruce when he comes out. All of a sudden a hand pops out of the Lazarus Pit. End of issue.
The Good: Batman and Robin #7 was another pedestrian read from this series. Since the big first arc that introduced the new Batman and Robin things have gone south for this title. It feels as though Morrison is just going through the motions with Dick Grayson as Batman and Damian as Robin binding his time until Bruce returns at the end of this year.
Before I get into all the negative parts of this issue there where actually a couple things positive things to point out about this issue. From the writing standpoint I did like that Morrison emphasized that Bruce and Dick are brothers and where actually each other’s best friend even though it did not seem that way throughout the past few years.
Morrison hinted at this in the last issue of Batman RIP were it was Dick who was the first and only one of Bruce’s allies to reach him and help him fight Black Hand. With that moment of having Dick be the only one that ended up being able to help Bruce and also see Bruce’s “death” Morrison emphasized that no matter what Dick, being the first ally Bruce had to fight side by side with, will be the one to help Bruce out when he most needs it.
While this was only hinted at in the end of RIP Morrison really put it out there that out of all of Bruce’s allies it is Dick that he trusts with his life above anyone else. Even though the relationship between the two started off as a father/son relationship over the years when Dick became Nightwing Bruce and Dick have been more like brothers. It was cool that Morrison brought this fact up about the original Batman and Robin relationship.
Also I did like that we finally see Talia brought back to take care of Damian. It has been odd that Talia would just leave her and Bruce’s son in the care of Dick without ever actually checking up on how Damian is developing under Dick’s tutelage. Talia has shown herself to be a very nosy mother in the past and it is good to see her finally brought into the fold to build up the next story arc that is titled “Batman vs. Robin.”
Though Cameron Stewart’s artwork is not what I think of how a Batman title should look like I actually did enjoy the artwork for this issue. Stewart artwork had a nice energy to it. I especially liked the opening scene in England with Dick jumping throughout the city in order to reach Squire in time. It was a great way to show the acrobatic background of the character that we don’t see much now that Dick has become Batman.
The Bad: There were many problems that Batman and Robin #7 faced. One of these was that Morrison moved the story in this issue so fast through that he left out key details of what exactly was going on. It is something that happened in the Red Hood arc before this one and is the weakness of Morrison employing three issue arcs on this title. Sure it gets the story done faster but these three issue long arcs don’t fit Morrison’s style of storytelling as his writing style, more so than any other comic book writer, benefits the six to seven issue long format of storytelling. He just seems to be rushing through everything about this story arc while leaving out key details of the story.
It actually felt like there were two issues missing in between this issue and what happened in the last issue where we saw Dick enter a secret room that housed Bruce’s body from Final Crisis. We quickly got a splash page of Dick carrying Bruce’s body to open the issue and suddenly the next page Dick is in England. We are never really given a reason for the sudden change. It just comes out of nowhere.
It would have been nice if Morrison or the editor would have put at the top of the second page that a week or two passed since that first page. Just as a quick references for the reader to know how much time passed between this issue and the last one especially since issue #6 came out in November and Bruce’s skull being used in Blackest Night.
Another problem with this issue and that is the transition between scenes. Almost every transition just felt awkward. From the very start Morrison just went from one scene to the other without really caring about how to make every scene would work together. It was almost like reading Final Crisis all over again with all the weird transitions.
Again we go from Gotham to all of a sudden Dick being in England for no reason given until later on in the issue. It made the beginning part a bit confusing as we don’t actually get any info on why Dick would even leave Gotham, especially with the gang war going on in the city, to go to England. I understand that Morrison tends to try and make his readers think about what is going on which I don’t mind. But when the transition between scenes is this awkward it only confuses readers concerning what is going on.
Then scene with Dick going to the prison honestly felt like a filler scene that did not accomplish anything to further the story. I would have instead preferred seeing a scene explaining more clearly what happened in the time frame between the last page of issue #6 and this issue.
The other big problem with this issue is that, with how Bruce’s skull and bones have been playing a key role in Blackest Night, Morrison never explains why and how Dick has Bruce’s body underground and if this story takes place before or after Blackest Night. I would rather have seen a scene of Dick talking about Blackest Night or something explaining what he is doing in England instead of Morrison making the reader have to come up with their own idea of the timeline of this issue.
It is very lazy storytelling on Morrison’s part and it is not the first time he has employed this method of storytelling. He did a very similar thing with Final Crisis and just explained the timeline of the issues in various interviews instead of in the story. He did the same exact thing in this issue by explaining the timeline of the issue in an interview with IGN instead of the issue itself. It is just unacceptable for writer of Morrison’s talent to do this.
I also didn’t like Morrison’s portrayal of Dick’s character throughout the issue. Morrison made Dick look like a weak character with how he is handling bringing Bruce in. Morrison did a good job with how he described the relationship between Bruce and Dick being like brothers and best friends. But, at the same time, it looks like, while Morrison understands the brother relationship between the two, he does not understand a key rule within the Batfamily. That is to never use the Lazarus Pit. It is something that has been made very clear by everyone in the Batfamily in past stories and Morrison is just ignoring this rule.
While that is one problem with Dick trying to use the Lazarus Pit to bring back Bruce there is another problem with this story in that it feels like an out of character thing for Dick to do. It already felt strange that Dick would keep it a secret from everyone in the Batfamily that he had Bruce’s body in storage, but it feels even more out of character that he is planning to bring Bruce back by using the Lazarus Pit.
Morrison just seems to be disregarding everything all of the Batman writers are doing with the new status quo of everyone in the Batfamily and doing as he pleases without actually paying attention to what Dini, Daniel, Yost, and Miller are doing with the characters. It makes Dick look like a hypocrite especially with how in Red Robin, Dick told Tim that Bruce was truly dead and that they needed to move on.
Morrison also failed to explain what Batwoman is doing in the story. She just pops out of a coffin that seemed so forced into the issue. I know that Batman (Dick Grayson) is currently guest-starring in the arc going on in Detective Comics so this Batman and Robin arc might take place after that story, but we are never told that. Batwoman’s appearance just looks like Morrison’s cheap attempt at bringing in her character for a guest-starring role.
\When it came to the art while I enjoyed Stewart’s artwork for the most part I have to admit there were a few odd panels and pages where it felt that Stewart was trying to replicate Frank Quietly’s art style. While I like Quietly, it does not mean I want other artist to replicate his artwork and is something that actually hurt Stewart in this issue.
Finally, there is the case of the huge editorial/letterer/artistic error in this issue. It is clear that the error was in the one panel between Batman and Batwoman. It was a mistake on both Cameron and the letterer of this issue, Pat Brosseau, and the positions between Batman and Batwoman should have been flipped. This should have been caught by Brosseau.
While both the artist and letterer where at fault for this error, the other party that deserves just as much blame, if not more, is the editor of this issue Mike Marts. It is absolutely unacceptable that Marts, or any editor, would miss such an obvious error in their talents work. Catching errors like this is an editor’s freaking job. I don’t care if this will be corrected in the TPB because that does not fix the problem with what we got with the monthly issue #7 no matter how hard DC thinks that it will. And honestly that is a bunch of bull crap especially since Marts and the DC editor crew had an extra month to edit this issue since Batman and Robin did not come out last month. With so much extra time it becomes even more unacceptable that such an obvious mistake, that killed the flow of the end of the issue, would pass by the eye of any professional editor.
Overall: Batman and Robin #7 was another disappointing issue that Morrison delivered. Morrison clearly was rushing through the story in this issue. Along with a giant editorial mistake this issue did not have any flow to it. If you are looking for a Batman title to read I do not recommend picking this series up other than the first arc with Quietly. Instead, I recommend picking up Batman or Streets of Gotham to get your Batman fix as Morrison has been very disappointing in Batman and Robin.