All Star Batman & Robin has been an up and down title for me. I thought the dialogue for the first couple of issues was just too hammy and heavy handed for me. But, the artwork has been great. But, the biggest problem has been how late the issues have shipped for this title! How late? Well, the DC page at the end of the comic is dates January, 2006 and says “3 months to Checkmate” and “2 months to One Year Later.” It also has the preview section that Shadowpact #1 will be out in 3 months. Um, yeah, Checkmate #1 came out already. One Year Later started a couple of months ago and Shadowpact #1 came out the SAME week as All Star Batman & Robin #4. Jeez. Try and keep a schedule, DC.
Writer: Frank Miller
Penciler: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: The issue starts with medics fighting to keep Vicki Vale alive. We then cut to Batman and Dick Grayson in the Batmobile that is now underwater and has converted to a sub. Dick Grayson is thinking how the Batman is trying to sound like Clint Eastwood and be tough. Dick thinks that Batman is crazy. Meanwhile, Batman is thinking how he has had his eye on Dick for a while. But, that he would have waiting years before recruiting him. Instead, since some slob killed his parents the time is now. Batman wonders how a 12 year old could be ready.
The Bat Sub goes through a hologram of a river rock and travels up a tunnel into….the Batcave!! The into shot of the Batcave is a monstrous 6 page foldout picture! (Absolutely incredible! One of the best drawings of the Batcave. This practically made the issue for me.) At first Dick Grayson is speechless but then when asked by Batman “Is this cool or what?”, Dick responds with “I’ve seen better, but I guess this is ok.” Batman thinks to himself “I don’t think I like this kid. Not one bit.” (Classic!)
Dick hops out of the Batmobile and investigates the Batcave. Alfred then calls Batman and tells him that Vicki Vale may not be able to be saved. Batman says to call Ekhart in Paris and get him because he can work medical miracles. Alfred says that there isn’t enough time to get him to Gotham from Paris. Batman tells Alfred to get that “clown” in Metropolis to get him. Batman tells Alfred to call Clark Kent and he will take care of it. Batman adds that Alfred should tell Kent that the Batman considers this a personal favor. Dick asks who the “clown” in Metropolis is and Batman responds “He’s nobody important.” Batman then smiles and thinks “That’s right Kent, your busted. I know who you are. And you’ve got no damn idea who I am. I’m a detective. I’m not mightier than the pounding surf. I can’t lead tall buildings with a single bound. But, I’m smart. One hell of a lot smarter than you’ll ever be.” With that we see Superman running in super speed to Paris saying “Damn!”
Dick Grayson then asks Batman for some clothes to change into since his tights still have his parents’ blood all of him. Batman then flashes back to his parents’ murder and having his mother’s blood on his hands. Batman shows emotion in his voice by gently touching Dick and telling him he’ll get him some new clothes. Then he suddenly snaps his voice back to sound cold again and says he has to go to work. Dick asks what he is supposed to do. That he is tired and hungry. Batman responds that this is a big cave. Sleep where you like and that there is plenty of food to find in the cave. That his food will present itself. And with that a rat scampers past Dick as he huddles alone on the floor. Dick thinks to himself that Batman is a creep and that he hates his guts.
We then cut to Batman giving a serious beat down to a cop asking about the story on “Jocko-Boy/” The cop says that it is all rigged. There is a lack of evidence so he will walk tomorrow.
We cut back to the Batcave where we see Dick waking up in the Batcave to find that someone has put him in nice silk pajamas and gave him a blanket. In front of Dick is a platter with a large bacon cheeseburger and fries. Dick gobbles the food up. Batman then grabs Alfred and slams him against the cave wall asking him what the hell he thinks he is doing. Alfred responds that Dick will not be reduced to eating rats. Batman says that he was. Alfred counters that that was Bruce’s own choice. Alfred continues to say that he is Bruce’s butler, medic, aide, but he is not his slave and for Bruce to unhand him. Batman let’s go and storms off thinking that “This little brat is going to ruin everything.” End of issue.
The Good: I liked this issue. I know many people will complain with Frank Miller’s dialogue and now he is handling Batman, but this is Frank Miller. Honestly, what else are you expecting. Miller is giving us the young version of his Darknight. This is simply how Miller views Batman. Once you accept Miller’s style, I think the comic is rather enjoyable.
I really like the inner thinking of Dick and Batman as they head to the Batcave. It is neat to see that this duo did not get off to a great relationship. Frankly, this is more realistic than having them buddy-buddy from the start. Batman is an asshole. Dick is an opinionated little kid who just saw his parents murdered in front of him. I wouldn’t expect them to start out any other way than how Miller is writing it. Batman is a jerk and is trying to intimidate and impress Dick. He wants to toughen him up and create a mirror image of himself. Dick isn’t buying Batman’s act and thinks he is a total creep. I like it.
I love how Dick plays it cool by claiming that this amazing jaw dropping Batcave is merely “okay” and that “he has seen better.” And Batman thinking in his head that “I don’t think I like this kid. Not one bit.” was hilarious! Well done by Miller.
Now, I’ll admit up front that I am a Batman fan. Always have been. I have never really liked Superman at all. So, naturally, I loved the scene between Batman and Superman. You know if Frank Miller is writing Batman that he is going to make Superman look like a bitch. You know when certain writers do not like a character. Just like it is obvious that Geoff Johns hates Batman, you can tell that Frank Miller hates Superman. And, I’m ok with that. It was a cool scene that easily lays the foundation for what you later see between these two characters in Miller’s Darknight series. So, Batman looks like the man while the vastly more powerful Superman is played like a bitch. Cool.
I liked that Miller showed the softer side of Batman momentarily when he has his flashback to his parents’ death and truly feels Dick’s pain. But, Batman is all about tough love and this feel of empathy quickly gives way to coldness as Batman leaves Dick to sleep in the cave and catch rats to eat. Harsh. A bit over the top? Yeah, but what else do you expect from Miller?
I love how Miller show how his Batman gets information. He brutally beats up a cop and after he gets his info, he nails the cop one more time just for good measure.
The final scene was great. It shows Alfred’s compassion and his role as balancing Bruce’s dark side. It also shows that Alfred is still the man and no matter how “bad” Bruce thinks he is as the Batman, Alfred isn’t going to take any of his crap. I like that.
Yeah, the dialogue isn’t realistic. Yeah, Miller’s Batman is hard and a total asshole. But, this is typical Miller. If you don’t like Miller’s style then you will definitely not enjoy this title at all.
Now, let’s talk about the artwork. Jim Lee does a phenomenal job in this issue. I love Lee’s art. And I like how Williams inks Lee’s pencils. And when you talk about the art to this issue, all you need to talk about is the wicked 6 page pullout of the Batcave. Absolutely gorgeous! It totally blew me away.
The Bad: Like I said, you have to like Miller’s dialogue to enjoy this story. If you are a big Superman fan, then you won’t enjoy how Miller treats the big red “S.”
Now, I don’t know how anyone at all can complain about the artwork. I know art is subjective, but if you don’t dig Lee’s art and his 6 page Batcave then you simply have bad taste in art.
I think that All-Star Batman and Robin #4 is definitely the best issue in this series. I hope if continues this upward trend.