The Revolution always has a blast reading Miller’s All Star Batman and Robin. I know that many people have been turned off by Miller’s obviously outrageous take on Batman in this title. And, yes, Miller has become incapable of writing any title without making it seem like Sin City. However, I appreciate Miller’s unique approach to the Batman. The vast majority of comic books are so politically correct and are scared of offending anyone that they have basically become totally neutered.
Not Miller. His stories are a concoction of booze, cigarettes, sex and testosterone. Miller delivers his stories with a pissed off middle finger showing no fear of alienating himself from the rest of the hive minded PC community of comic book writers. I always appreciate the rebel and I can dig it when a writer is purposely trying to have some fun and be as outrageous as possible. I’m sure that All Star Batman and Robin #9 will be plenty more of the same. Let’s hit this review.
Writer: Frank Miller
Penciler: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Batman and Robin meeting with Hal Jordan in a room that has been painted yellow. Batman and Robin also painted themselves yellow. Batman thinks how Hal Jordan is a total idiot. That Batman would love to knock the snot out of Hal. That Hal is a joke with the way he uses his power ring.
Batman thinks how if he had the power ring that he would send some tidal waves in just the right directions. Knock out a few enemy fleets. Then get started on bringing some real firepower to a mostly ground war or two. Then maybe he would spank Superman’s butt back to what is left of Krypton just for laughs.
Batman also thinks how the power rings weakness to anything yellow has to be the dumbest weakness ever. Batman thinks that the Guardians could have done a better job creating their ultimate weapon. Batman thinks that maybe the yellow weakness is some sort of phobia of Hal’s.
Hal tells Batman that he is giving the rest of the heroes a bad name. That Batman’s tactics are going to cause problems for all of them. That a lot of people want Batman brought down. A lot of unspeakable power. Batman spits that the power is plenty speakable. There are parents groups, the mafia, street gangs, the civil rights contingency, the cops, the mayor and this being an election every bastard congressman and governor. And then there is the little club of heroes: the wicked witch of Lesbos Island, the last candy-pants of a blown up planet and a shape change nuttier than a fruit cake and Hal.
Batman says that he is going to continue his war on street crime and let Hal and the other heroes deal with bug-eyed monsters and those types of threats. Hal says that Batman’s tactics are out of hand. That he is sending people to the hospital every night with massive injuries. Batman counters that crime rates have dropped dramatically in Gotham. Hal curses that Batman has everyone calling the super heroes criminals. Batman responds that they are criminals. That they have always been criminals. That they have to be criminals.
Hal snaps and yells that Batman is going to get all of them killed. Hal punches Batman a couple of times. Batman lets Hal hit him and tells Robin that they should let Hal vent, that he will feel better.
Hal then points to Robin and screams that Batman kidnapped a 12 year old boy. That Robin is Dick Grayson. Batman scoffs at Hal and says that Robin isn’t Dick Grayson. That Dick made his first public statement yesterday and it was all over the papers.
Hal says that he doesn’t believe Batman. Robin agrees and says that maybe Hal has a point. That maybe he really is Dick Grayson. Hal shouts at Robin to stop trying to confuse him. Batman tells Hal that Robin is a whirling dervish in a fight. That he is not Dick Grayson. Hal tells Batman to go to hell and then turns to leave.
Robin then asks Hal where his power ring is. Hal looks at his hand and sees that his power ring is gone. Robin then holds up Hal’s power ring. Hal calls Robin a little snot and demands that he give him his ring. Batman again warns Hal that Robin is a whirling dervish in a fight. Hal charges Robin. Robin proceeds to fly all round the room and avoids all of Hal’s punches. Robin them proceeds to kick ass on Hal and ends up laying a deadly throat strike on Hal which crushes Hal’s throat.
Batman is stunned at Robin’s ability. That Robin might be a genius or something worse. That this is the first time that Batman has witnessed Robin in open combat and he doesn’t like what he is seeing.
Batman grabs Robin and pulls him off Hal and then punches him. Batman quickly fashions a jagged tube to trache Hal’s throat. Batman rips off his mask and Robin is stunned that Batman is Bruce Wayne. Batman treats Hal like a competent combat surgeon. Batman saves Hal’s life. Batman tells Robin to call an ambulance.
We cut to Batman and Robin heading out through the rainy night. Robin thinks how he almost killed a man tonight. That he enjoyed every second of it. That he wanted to kill Hal. Batman thinks how he was wrong to blame Robin for tonight. Batman wonders what has he done? What has he accomplished? That he has taken an adept and taught him how to fight and kill and that is all he has taught him. That he rushed things and recklessly dragged Robin into his world.
That it took Batman years of training to learn his path with wise gurus and the gently hand of Alfred. Years to learn ever side of lethal power. Years to learn the great thoughts of great men. That Robin has had only weeks in the hands of a joy-riding cackling lunatic. That Batman had years to grieve. That is where it started.
Batman and Robin get into the Batmobile and race off. Batman thinks that he has to pray for a second chance with Robin. A fresh start. They arrive at a graveyard. Batman tells Robin to go find them and say goodbye. Robin walks to the gravestones of his parents and collapses to the ground and cries hysterically. Batman then bends down and holds Robin. Batman thinks that they mourn lives lost. Including their own.
The Good: All Star Batman and Robin #9 was a great issue. I thought this was such an entertaining read. Yeah, this is a slowly paced issue, but it finally does what has not been done on this title to this point: actually progress Batman and Robin’s characters.
Of course, even though this is a slower issue that focuses mainly on the personalities of Batman and Robin, Miller does spice up this the issue with a rather exciting fight between Hal and Robin. It was pretty cool to see Robin kicking Hal’s ass. This was an effective way for Miller to impress upon the reader what a dangerous threat Robin can pose.
I dig Miller’s hard boiled dialogue. Batman is so completely and totally offensive and that is part of why I love Miller’s Batman so much. Miller gives us a Batman who doesn’t trust anyone and sees every group, on the left and the right, as an evil threat to society. And Batman has a huge axe to grind with every possible group. Batman’s antisocial attitude and unwillingness to buy into any hive-minded thinking is what I find so compelling about his personality. Batman does what every person should do: question everything.
I also enjoy the fact that the fledgling JLA members hate each other. I think this is actually more realistic than all of them joining together on an adventure and working as a perfect team and being immediate friends with each other. This is the beginning and respect is something that is earned and comes slowly. It is neat to see this early version of the JLA knowing that they do eventually grow into relationships based on mutual respect and even friendship to a certain extent.
There is no doubt that Miller has Hal playing the total chump in this issue. And I firmly believe that this is Miller dishing out a little payback for when it appeared that Johns punked out Batman a bit to Hal Jordan when Hal made his dramatic return as Green Lantern. Hey, when Miller writes Batman you have to be prepared for this kind of thing. Personally, I thought Batman’s insults toward Hal were absolutely hilarious. And Batman listing all that he would do with Hal’s power ring was perfect. I loved it all.
Miller pulls off some enjoyable character work on both Batman and Robin. This is the first time that we have seen anything other side to Batman’s personality other than his lunatic side. Miller finally pulls off Batman’s mask of the madman that he has shown us over the first eight issues of this title. The reader gets a glimpse at Batman’s remorse and pain as Miller shows us Batman’s compassionate side.
What we see is the real Batman. This is his true face that only Alfred and Robin get to see. I know many people have disliked the overly aggressive and insane Batman that Miller has given us up to this point. However, I don’t mind it since this is a Batman who is still in the infancy of his career.
This reminds me of the young James Bond that we got in Casino Royale. He has yet to learn his craft and gain valuable experience that turns him into the suave, smooth and always calm, cool and collected secret agent. Instead, we see a Bond who gets angry, doesn’t always think before acting and is rather rough around the edges.
Miller is doing the same thing with Batman in this title. We have seen how Batman employs a gruff and offensive personality specifically designed to insult people and to keep them at bay. Batman doesn’t want anyone to get close to him. Also, we see Batman just beginning to learn his craft. At this early stage, he is more excited about his wild gadgets and the rush of a fight than he is about serious detective work. That aspect of his personality will blossom as he progresses in his career as a crime fighter.
Miller shows us the roots of Batman’s eventual personality as he values being a detective over a killer or an avenger. Miller uses All Star Batman and Robin #9 to show the reader the beginning of the Batman’s maturation process where he realizes that he can’t act like a joy-riding idiot anymore now that he has a protégé in Robin to teach and to be a role model for.
I enjoyed the ending to All Star Batman and Robin. Miller finally exposes Batman’s compassionate side as he grieves with Robin. This final scene also delivers good character work on Robin. We finally get to see how Robin begins his path to becoming the man that Dick Grayson eventually becomes. Miller shows the reader the anger and violence inside of Robin that is a rare sight. Dick Grayson is almost always portrayed as a relatively positive person who is much more well adjusted than the Batman. It was neat to see that even the balanced and well adjusted Dick Grayson was at one time full of anger and violence.
Miller makes a good point that becoming a true hero is not an easy thing to do. It takes more than personal loss, anger and the ability to kick ass in order to become a hero. There is extensive training of the mind and the body required to become a detective and a proper hero. And the reader realizes that Dick Grayson has a long way to go to becoming a true hero.
Jim Lee serves up some fantastic looking artwork in this issue. I love how Lee draws the goddam Batman. I know that Lee has caused considerable delays over the course of this title, but the fact remains that Lee creates a wonderful looking comic book.
The Bad: Batman and Robin #9 is a slow issue and the plotting has been without much direction over these first nine issues. Miller has wandered around simply having fun with Batman’s character, but has failed to establish a true point and purpose with this title. Now that we finally have progressed Batman and Robin’s character a bit, I would like to see Miller start to focus on an actual adventure or two where the dynamic due lock horns with someone from Batman’s rogues gallery. Miller has teased the reader with the Joker several times. I think now is the time to finally get that story arc involving the Clown Prince of Crime rolling.
Overall: I thoroughly enjoyed All Star Batman and Robin #9. However, I definitely don’t recommend this issue to everyone. Miller is definitely an acquired taste. I certainly would not recommend All Star Batman and Robin to fans of Hal Jordan who don’t possess a sense of humor. This definitely is not an issue I think that they would particularly enjoy. I also would not recommend All Star Batman and Robin to fans who are a bit on the sensitive and delicate side. Miller’s Batman is raw, offensive and unfiltered. And if you cannot stomach Miller’s pulp fiction styled dialogue then you will not enjoy this issue at all.
However, if you dig Miller’s ham handed style of writing and like salty comic books that don’t mind being offensive at times then you will probably enjoy All Star Batman and Robin #9.