Miller’s All Star Batman and Robin is unabashedly over the top and outrageous. And that is exactly why The Revolution has had fun reading this title. Is it a well crafted and serious read? No. I firmly believe, at least I hope, that Miller is having some fun with his take on the Batman in his formative years. At any rate, I’m sure we will get more of the same with All Star Batman and Robin #8. Let’s do this review.
Writer: Frank Miller
Penciler: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Joker stepping out of the shower. He has just finished having some nice dirty sex with some chick he picked up that night. As the woman is getting dressed, Joker reveals that he knows her name: Donna Gugina. Joker goes on how Donna is a real crusader and one of Gotham’s best attorneys known for bringing criminals to justice. Joker says that he loves Donna in his own special way.
Suddenly, Joker punches Donna in the face. Joker than wraps a tie around her neck and strangles her to death. Joker thinks how he will always love Donna in his own special way. Joker exits the room and tells a jacked up Nazi woman to clean up the mess. (Okay, that was weird and also a Nazi Rule violation.)
We slide over to the Batcave where Dick tells Batman that he wants to get to work on finding out why Joker used Jocko Boy to kill Dick’s parents. Batman tells Dick to get himself a costume and a mask and then they will start talking about Dick working with Batman. Dick continues to mouth off to Batman and Batman wonders what he is doing playing father. That this is the dumbest move he has ever made.
Batman throws Jocko Boy in the Batmobile and is about to leave when Dick asks Batman what is up with the big robot T-Rex. Batman tells Dick to shut up and get to work on his costume and mask.
We cut to the Batmobile rocketing out of the Batcave. Suddenly, Batman sees a giant Green Lantern symbol flashing high in the sky above Gotham. Batman is pissed. Batman comments about how Green Lantern is such a moron and a complete bother.
We shift to Batman dumping Jocko Boy into the river. Batman then heads on over to meet with Green Lantern.
We slide back to the Batcave where Robin is drawing inspiration from Robin Hood in deciding a name and a costume. Suddenly, Alfred appears and offers his services to Dick in sewing together a costume and mask.
We cut back to Batman meeting with Hal Jordan. Hal is sitting on top of a rooftop eating a hot dog. Batman calls Green Lantern by his real name “Jordan.” Green Lantern is stunned that Batman knows his secret identity. Batman thinks how Jordan was picked to be the Green Lantern because he had superhuman will and no fear. Unfortunately, Hal is also dumb as a post. That Jordan’s power ring could set the world straight and all he does with it is make oversized eggbeaters, mouse traps and vacuum cleaners with it. Batman thinks how Hal is an idiot. Batman thinks of the things he could do with the power ring and that it is such a damn waste. That Hal is even worse than Kent.
Hal tells Batman that they need to talk. Batman responds that they will talk where and when he says so. Batman tells Hal to meet him at a basement in Crime Alley in twelve hours. Batman then disappears. Hal comments on what a jerk Batman is.
We shift to Joker meeting with Catwoman in hopes of enlisting her services on causing some mischief.
We slide back to the Batcave. Batman steps out of his Batmobile and immediately plucks an arrow out of the air that was shot at him. We see Dick in a Robin Hood styled costume with a bow and arrow. Dick tells Batman that his codename is Hood. That Dick’s dad loved watching Robin Hood.
Batman is unimpressed and retorts that any thug with half a brain will use Dick’s hood against him in a fight. Batman tells Dick “Lose the hood. You’re Robin.” End of issue.
The Good: All Star Batman and Robin #8 was a slightly better than average read. I like how Miller handled Dick’s character in this issue. I dig that Dick continues to get under Batman’s skin and irritates the hell out of him. Dick is pretty much the only character who has no problems standing up to the goddam Batman. Miller does a good job showing the reader how Robin’s bright, cocky and cavalier attitude contrasts with Batman’s dark and brooding personality.
And it certainly has taken a long time to get to this point, but we have finally arrived at the creation of Robin’s character. Dick takes the first and most crucial step on his journey as Robin. It was a nice touch by Miller to play up the Robin Hood connection in the creation of Robin’s character.
In most later versions of Robin’s origin, his codename is said to come from the bright Robin bird. However, Jerry Robinson, who designed Robin’s character back in 1940, stated that he came up with the name Robin because he was always a fan of The Adventures of Robin Hood. And that he had a copy of that book illustrated by N.C. Wyeth. Robinson used Wyeth’s drawing of Robin Hood as his inspiration for the creation of Robin’s costume.
Of course, Miller puts his own little spin on the creation of Robin’s name and costume. I love when writers take the time and effort to pay homage to the history of certain comic book characters. Miller did a good job in this case with Robin. I dig Miller’s take on how Dick got the codename Robin as well as his costume design. I certainly like it more than Dick saying he is like a high flying brightly colored Robin bird who is the counterbalance to the dark bat that inspired Batman.
I also like the fact that you have Batman with his childhood inspiration of Zorro and Robin with his childhood inspiration of Robin Hood. It creates a nice a balance as the Dynamic Duo both find inspiration in fighting crime from classic heroes who protected the poor and downtrodden.
I had gotten the vague feeling that there was some type of feud simmering between Miller and Morrison. And that is interesting since both men are in control of the Batman franchise. So, I can’t help but wonder if Miller is taking a shot at Morrison with the final scene between Robin and Batman. Robin is wearing a costume that looks almost just like what Morrison has Damien wear when he first appeared in Batman. Then Miller proceeds to make fun of the idiotic hood design of the costume. Maybe I’m just reading too much into things.
I absolutely loved the scene between Hal and Batman. I thought it was hilarious. Look, I’m a huge Hal Jordan fan. But, Hal has never been confused with a rocket scientist. And I also think that this scene may be a result of how Hal Jordan has really been soaking up the spotlight ever since his dramatic return. Johns has done his best to make Hal Jordan look like a total stud.
And I’ve gotten the impression that Johns isn’t a real big fan of Batman. And it sure seems like Johns had Hal make Batman look like a punk a couple of times since his return. Knowing how protective of Batman Miller is, it wouldn’t surprise me if Miller was getting some payback by making Johns’ boy look like a total punk in this issue.
At any rate, I think this scene was actually a pretty realistic rendition of how a young Batman would view the new Green Lantern. Miller pokes fun at the Silver Age uses of the Green Lantern power ring. The power ring is an incredibly powerful weapon, but it was used for mostly hokey purposes during the Silver Age. I like that Miller is showing the baseline tension between Batman and his fellow Justice Leaguers. There is no reason why these characters would become close friends from the very start. And the nasty feelings between our heroes make the story much more entertaining and lively.
The best part of All Star Batman and Robin #8 was that Miller finally brings into the mix two essential ingredients to any classic Batman tale: Joker and Catwoman. Miller delivers a wonderfully twisted Joker. Miller’s over the top style of writing on this title is the perfect match for a character as outlandish and outrageous as Joker. Miller taps right into Joker’s dark soul and gives the reader a Joker that is a sexual creature full of violence.
Jim Lee serves up gobs of gorgeous artwork. I have always admired Lee’s work, but I have come to enjoy his artwork even more with his efforts on All Star Batman. Lee brings Miller’s story to life in an impressive fashion. Lee whips up a great looking Joker. It is definitely one of my favorite versions of the Clown Prince.
And Lee’s Catwoman? Fantastic. That is the best Catwoman I have seen in a long time. To me, Catwoman is sex personified. However, DC has really managed to remove any and all sexual elements to Catwoman’s character in the modern DCU. And I think that is a real shame. Sex is an undeniable core element to Catwoman’s persona. Miller and Lee sure aren’t going to make that mistake with their version of Catwoman.
The Bad: What is up with the Nazi chick with Joker? Seriously, a jacked up blonde chick with swastikas painted on her boobs? Yeah, if that doesn’t say Joker then I don’t know what does. That was just way too much and totally weird and bizarre. It simply made no sense. Oh yeah, and it was a Nazi Rule violation. And that is the automatic two Night Girl deduction that knocked this issues story rating of 6 Night Girls out of 10 down to 4 Night Girls out of 10.
I have never, not even for a moment, even remotely connected the Joker with Nazi themed villains. As a matter of fact, I find the Joker to be a huge anti-Nazi. Joker is a true individualist who is concerned only with himself and his own prurient desires. Joker is a complete and total deviant who embraces anarchy and chaos. Joker is about the last type of character I would ever even remotely connect to Nazi themed villains.
Another minor complaint I had with this issue was the scene where Alfred approaches Dick in the Batcave to offer his services making Dick’s costume. Miller has Dick immediately peg that Alfred speaks with an upper class British accent from the South Kensington area. Are you kidding me? That just seemed a bit too much for me. I know Dick is a smart kid, but I think Miller overplayed his hand a bit with that scene.
All Star Batman and Robin #8 was a slow issue. We got no action scenes at all in this issue. And I don’t mind if an issue doesn’t have any action scenes as long as there is plenty of excellent character work and dialogue to carry the issue. But, that isn’t the case with this story arc. All Star Batman and Robin is a slow moving title. The irregular shipping schedule hasn’t helped matters any and only serves to make this story seem even slower.
It seems that Miller is having trouble getting this story moving with a purpose. We are eight issues into this title and it feels like Miller is still trying to lay the foundation for the current story arc. I know that some set up time is necessary for any new title, but eight issues worth of set up time is too much. Miller has drug his feet too much getting this story moving and, at times, this story reads like Miller is just playing around without any real point or purpose to the story.
Overall: All Star Batman and Robin #8 was a better than average read. I did find this issue to be Miller’s weakest issue up to this point. Having said that, I think that we are in store for an entertaining ride now that Joker and Catwoman have been brought into the mix. I would certainly recommend giving All Star Batman a try if you dig Miller’s hard boiled style of writing. This title is not for everyone and Miller certainly is an acquired taste. All Star Batman definitely offers the reader a much different take on Batman’s character than what you get served up over on Batman and Detective Comics. And variety is always appreciated.