Batman and Robin #4 Review

Batman and Robin #4 start’s up a new arc involving the Red Hood as well as having the artwork being handled by Philip Tan. The first arc of this series showed that Grant Morrison is a talented writer when not getting in his own way with too many crazy ideas. I am hopeful that Morrison can continue the momentum from the first arc and turn in another great read with Batman and Robin #4.

Creative Team
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Philip Tan
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: Pete Pantazis

Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with a new villain named Lightning Bug about to kill a bar owner who owed him some money. Before he can kill the bar owner Batman and Robin appear behind him in the batmobile. Lightning Bug starts making a run for jumping from building to building until he lands in the middle of someone’s apartment.

Lightning Bug exits the apartment looking injured. As he walks down the hall he sees two people in the shadows who he think are Batman and Robin. He tells them he will turn himself in but the two people in shadows show themselves to be Red Hood and Scarlet. Red Hood uses his gun and starts shooting Lightning Bug while Scarlet tweets what is happening from her phone. (Man everyone tweets now a days. I’m betting that Joker will announce his return on Twitter.)

Lightning Bug is thrown out the window onto a car below which causes a big explosion. Red Hood and Scarlet make their exit while Batman and Robin make it to the scene. Batman sees that Red Hood left his calling card that says “Vengeance arms again, his red right hand” and tells Robin next time they do it his way.

Sometime later we see Dick Grayson attending a Wayne Enterprise party on top of a roof hotel. At the party Lucius Fox asks Dick were Bruce is and when is going to come back to clear his name. Dick says he does not know but that Bruce insists on clearing his name his own way. Dick then asks who the English guy is.

While they talk Damian is with some ladies who can’t believe how cute Bruce’s son is (Not a term you hear when describing Damian.)

Back over to where Dick and Lucius are Commissioner Gordon introduces them to Oberton Sexton. Sexton says that they both have a mutual interest in crime with Dick saying he would like to see it wiped out. Alfred interrupts their conversation telling Dick he has an important call.

We cut to somewhere in Gotham were Scarlet is staring at a mirror unsure if she should take off the mask in fear of it tearing of her face. Red Hood comes up behind her and tells her what is she waiting for and helps her take it off. As he takes her mask off we see through Scarlet’s eyes which sort of looks like she is scanning him. Red Hood says it is about time they get revenge on another crazy man in a mask.

On the rooftops Batman is showing Robin the art of disappearing and patience by having him watch the Gotham from the shadows. Batman tells Robin that he needs to familiarize himself with Gotham and warns him how easily his hood can get in the way (Nice All-Star Batman and Robin reference). Robin tells Batman that he can fight blind. It then starts raining when Batman notices that the meeting they have been waiting to happen in the building they were watching is about to start.

We cut to the meeting that is a meeting with all of the major big gang leaders in Gotham. The meeting begins with the Gravedigger speaking up telling the Penguin that his boss, El Penitente, is angry over a vigilante killing Lightning Bug and that they have called in Flamingo. Penguin tells all of the new guys that he does not like them and that they all should go through him and Black Mask. Gravedigger says that unlike Penguin the Flamingo has never failed. We see that the Flamingo is traveling to Gotham on a pink jet.

Batman and Robin jump of the roof they are on and glide to the meeting.

Before they can reach the room Red Hood and Scarlet arrive on the meeting. Red Hood kills all of the gang members in the meeting in a matter of seconds and start beating Penguin with a chair. Batman and Robin walk in on the meeting and Penguin begs Batman to protect him.

Batman asks if Red Hood is Jason. Red Hood says “Red Hood and Scarlet say let the punishment fit the crime!” End of issue.

Commentary
The Good: Batman and Robin #4 was a better than average read. Just as he did with the first three issues of this series the strength of this issue was all the quality dialogue Morrison provided throughout the issue.

The difference between this issue and the first three is that in this issue is that the focus went away from Dick and Damian continuing to develop their relationship as mentor and protégé. Instead this issue was more about developing the new dynamic duo in the Red Hood and Scarlet who are the Punisher version of Batman and Robin. And while I would have liked seeing Morrison develop the new dynamic between Dick and Damian I was fine with Morrison using this issue to develop Red Hood and Scarlet.

Even though we still don’t know if it is Jason or someone else who is the Red Hood I am glad Morrison choose to go this route as the Red Hood has been vastly underdeveloped since being brought back in “Under the Hood.” I am actually looking forward to seeing what Morrison can do with the character as this is the first time he writes this character and he should provide an interesting take on the character.

Also I like Morrison’s choice of making Scarlet the Red Hood’s new partner. She is an interesting character Morrison introduced in his first arc and it should be interesting to see what she brings to the table other that tweeting on her phone.

And while not completely unoriginal Red Hood wants revenge on Batman, giving more of a case for Jason being the Red Hood, it should be fun seeing Batman and Robin vs. Red Hood and Scarlet. Over the past few issues Morrison has been developing the new dynamic Dick and Damian share as Batman and Robin. Now by putting these two in a situation where a new pair is trying to take their turf they have to show how well they work together and that they are the only dynamic duo in Gotham.

Also I did like how Morrison continued to show Dick trying to teach Damian the methods the Batfamily does things. The dynamic these two share is very fun as we see Dick continue to evolve into the Batman role while at the same time trying to teach a kid who only respects himself. Damian represents a interesting challenge for Dick as Batman because in many respects Damian is like Jason and Dick realizes this and tries to make Damian better. He tries to show Damian that he has to be better and not follow the ways of the League of Assassins ways of doing things.

And I like who Morrison showed Gotham as a living city by having Dick tell Damian he must watch Gotham and feel how everything moves. Gotham has always been more of a lively city than any other in the DCU. There is always something happening in Gotham and around every corner there is some sort of danger awaiting our heroes.

Also I continue to enjoy how Morrison writes Damian. He is one of the only writers that get’s who Damian is. While Damian is a little brat he is just a mini Bruce with his attitude and how he does not respect many around him.

Like Morrison has done before, in this issue he created some interesting new villains for Dick to face as Batman with the Gravedigger and the Flamingo. With having the Flamingo as this unstoppable villain who has never failed to complete a mission it should be interesting what happens when he faces Batman and if he is as unstoppable as the Gravedigger says he is.

While some people don’t like Philip Tan’s artwork I thought he did a fantastic job on this issue. Tan is a perfect fit in a Batman title. His art does a good job fleshing out Morrison’s story especially in giving Red Hood and Scarlet a much darker look as their methods are much different from that of Batman and Robin.

The Bad: The thing that keeps this issue from being a great issue is that Morrison is only revisiting the same gang war stories that are currently going on in Batman and in Streets of Gotham. With already having two titles exploring the same concept of gang leaders arguing with one another saying they each control Gotham the story does get old quickly.

Also I did not like that Morrison ignored almost everything that Winnick and Dini have been doing in their titles and just using his own ideas for the story. Currently in the other Batman titles we have seen that almost every gang is under the control of either Black Mask or Two Face and what Morrison is doing here does not keep this continuity. Instead Morrison makes this title feel like it has nothing to do with what is going on in the other Batman titles and actually feels like it is its own continuity.

Also, Dini has already established that Hush is impersonating Bruce Wayne but here Morrison shows that Bruce is actually away on a trip since his parents image was ruined. While I don’t care that writers don’t follow a strict continuity but I do want to see writers follow some sort of continuity just so that we have more a connection with all the titles starring the same characters.

But what Morrison showed here is that he does not care about any continuity except his own. And the DC editors are as much at fault here as well since they do not tell Morrison what other writers have established with the Batman universe. It actually makes the DC editors look like they are scarred to piss Morrison off since this has been the case for Morrison’s writing since he started writing Batman. It is what made me take a few points off this title that otherwise would have probably been an 8 Night Girls out of 10.

I would have liked it if Morrison balanced out the Red Hood and Scarlet interactions with some more interactions between Dick and Damian. The strength of the first three issues was Morrison developing the team of Dick and Damian which we didn’t get much off in this issue. I would have liked to have seen more of the new Batman and Robin team since they are still developing their team work.

Overall: Batman and Robin #4 was another solid issue of this series. Morrison provided plenty of solid dialogue and Tan did a great job with the artwork for this issue. The only thing that keep this issue from being another great issue is Morrison lack to follow the continuity the other Batman writers have set-up with the new status quo. Anyone looking for a fun Batman title than I definitely recommend picking this series up as Morrison is doing a great job on this series.
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Kevin

2 Comments

  1. I think you're mistaken about the gang meeting; Gravedigger isn't present. Admittedly they're both wearing purple, but the man is identified as Santo, servant of El Penitente, and there's no particular reason to associate him with Oberon.

  2. I think you're a bit off Kevin, Morrison would never have mentioned Black Mask if he didn't give a damn about the other titles. He's not some ABOVE-ALL guy like Alan Moore, he's willing to establish a solid continuity as long as it doesn't dramatically effect his scripts, and personally I thought the mere mention of Black Mask and the fake Bruce Wayne was great and unexpected.

    And for the record, this is still Morrison's Batman saga so if he established this status quo, why should he have to veer off of his scheduled(and known by the editors) plans to fit something that may contradict what he had in mind for his own story?

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