Morrison has been doing a great job so far on Batman and Robin. The work he is doing on this title is some of the best work he has done on Batman as he not getting in his own way like he did in the latter part of his run on Batman. The first issue of this Red Hood storyline did a nice job giving us some nice antagonist for the new dynamic duo to face. Let see if Batman and Robin #5 can deliver another solid read.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Philip Tan
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The issue begins with Scarlett giving some inner monologue about how she followed her dead beat father and how she ended up killing him with a pillow. She says that she has now made something of herself with a new face.
As she does this inner monologue she throws a couple shurikens at Batman and Robin who easily deflect them with their gauntlets. Batman calls Red Hood Jason Todd which the Red Hood confirms he is. Robin asks if Jason is back for more and that he heard he got his brains beaten out by the Joker. Jason says he likes the new Robin’s attitude. He tells Batman and Robin to get out of the way so he can finish taking out the bad guys.
Penguin runs down the hall telling Red Hood to stay away and leaps out of a window. Robin throws a batarang at Penguin to slice his umbrella in half which makes Penguin lad on top of a car.
Back inside the building Red Hood continues his rant of the deaths of these crime bosses is what stops crime. Batman tells Red Hood to shut up and that he ruined his connection to the main boss in Mexico. Red Hood thinks that no one in Mexico will come to Gotham after what he did in the room and he is now taking Batman’s mission to the next level.
Robin has had enough of Red Hood talking and runs to attack him. Red Hood grabs Robin by his hood and slams the kid face first into the ground (see Damian that is why wearing a hood is not a good idea. Listen next time.) Batman comes up behind Red Hood and slams him to the ground telling him he does not want Batman to humiliate him again.
Scarlett holds a knife to Robin’s neck telling Batman to let go of Red Hood. Batman lets Red Hood go and he and Scarlett leave Batman and Robin with one of their cards. Batman looks through one of the dead bodies and finds another domino like the one he found on Pyg.
Back outside the building Batman and Robin grab Penguin and takes him to the GCPD police station.
The next morning Alfred is listening to the news report of Batman and robin being shown helping out Penguin making the dynamic duo look like bad guys. Lucius calls and leaves a message for Dick about irregularities he has found in Wayne Enterprises accounts. Dick and Damian appear behind Alfred coming back in their Batman and Robin gear. Dick says he doesn’t know what to say to Lucius.
He then tells Alfred that Jason is back and with a girl as his partner with the intentions to replace them. Damian comments how his dad made strange choice in picking partners. Dick says Bruce thought he could save Jason and he would have if Joker did not end up killing him. They then listen to the news reports of how the Gotham City citizens accept Red Hood and Scarlett’s ways of doing things.
At Red Hood’s hideout Scarlett is reading “Getting the Best out of your Brand” since Jason just read it. Jason says that Batman is just an out of date logo and like what the IPod killed the walkman they are going to take over Batman and Robin’s job. We see that Jason has turned back to his natural red hair with some white in it. Scarlett asks if Jason thinks someone like the Joker will challenge them. Jason laughs it off and says that they are going to do the job Batman never could by wiping out all of the dirt from Gotham’s streets.
Over at a private airline Gordon enters the Flamingo’s plane only to see everyone in it killed with their faces ripped off.
In some other location Flamingo is eating the faces he ripped off.
Gordon radios Batman telling him about Flamingo. Batman tells Gordon that Red Hood seems to have gotten someone’s attention with what he did last night. Batman tells Gordon that he is on his way to stop Red Hood as he already knows Red Hood is looking to finish the job he started last night.
We see Red Hood and Scarlett about to kill Santos but Batman and Robin smash through the window and knock them both down. Scarlett uses a taser gun to stun Robin and slices him in the stomach with a knife. Batman asks if Robin is okay and Red Hood uses this distraction to shot Batman in the chest. The shot knocks Batman out and Scarlett knocks Robin out as well and they leave the two of them unconscious on the floor.
Red Hood exit the hospital and go into an alley and as soon as they do some one shots Red Hood in the helmet knocking him out. A bright light shines on Scarlett. When she is able to get a clear picture of who it is she sees that it is none other than Flamingo on a motorcycle. End of issue.
The Good: Batman and Robin #5 was a disappointing issue. This was the worst issue we have gotten so far from Morrison on this new title. Still there were a few positive things about this issue.
Just as has been the case with this title so far were Morrison excels at is further evolving the relationship between Dick and Damian as they grow into their roles as the new Batman and Robin. Just like when Bruce began with Dick, Jason, and Tim as his partner Dick has to fight the bad guys, in this case Red Hood, while also worrying about Damian as he continues to make mistakes as Robin. It is interesting seeing Dick having to deal with having a partner as every time he fights one of the bad guys Damian somehow makes a mistake that cause Dick to get distracted.
It is one of the interesting aspects of Dick being Batman as he now is the one being the mentor. He is getting firsthand experience to what Bruce had to go through with each of the Robins and why he wasn’t the most trusting of his partners in the beginning. And if it Bruce that was training a new Robin it would honestly have been a bit dull since he has done it three previous times. But with it being Dick that has to train a Robin while also being the new Gotham City protector as Batman it feels a fresh and new even though it is not.
I also find it funny that with all of his boosting that Damian is the one that continues to make mistakes in the field as the reason he makes these mistakes is because he does not listen to Dick’s advice. In many respects Damian is very similar to Jason. And it draws an interesting parallel in this storyline involving Jason, since we can see the similarities between the two and what can happen if Damian does not follow the advice of Batman. From how Morrison is writing this story it seems that this storyline may help to humble the new Robin which he very much needs.
I also have to give Morrison credit for creating a cool villain in the Flamingo. Even with only finally making an appearance on screen at the end of this issue Morrison did a very good job building up Flamingo into being a threatening villain for Dick to face as Batman.
Philip Tan’s artwork in this issue was not as good as it was in the last issue. Still, Tan’s artwork shines when drawing action which he got plenty of opportunity to do in the beginning and end of the issue. Also, he does a solid job with the scene at Flamingo’s plane with all the dead body and making Flamingo look like a badass at the end of the issue.
The Bad: The problem this issue faces is that even though Morrison tries his best to make Jason and Scarlett into interesting characters I find them very dull and boring. And with the two of them taking up most of the issue this issue and story arc lives or dies with how these two characters being interesting to the reader. But so far Morrison is not doing anything to make them interesting. All the dialogue Morrison provides the two of them feels forced and rushed to try and make them credible villains especially with Scarlett’s inner monologue.
It also does not help that at this point I have lost all interest in Jason Todd’s character. With how all the potential Jason since his return has been wasted by all of the DC writers that have written him it is a shame. After five years Jason is just stuck being the bratty middle child of the Batfamily who still feels his father didn’t pay attention to him. Morrison portrays him as much as he continues to rant that he must step in to do Batman’s job which is the same thing he was saying when he came back five years ago.
At this point Jason still has yet to evolve from where he was since returning. And Morrison really had an opportunity to write Jason as a character who has evolved since he returned but that is not the case. Instead Jason just continues to be like that kid in class everyone turns their head when he speaks as it is always the same thing.
At no time during the two confrontations between him and Dick did I think that Jason was a viable threat as I knew a fight between the two would be over in a matter of seconds which is what happened as Dick quickly beat Jason. This is especially the case since we just got a fight between the two of them just had a fight this past summer in Battle for the Cowl which Dick was able to dominate.
What also hurts this issue is that for a second straight issue Batman and Robin play second fiddle to Red Hood and Scarlett. With how Morrison wants to build up the new dynamic duo it would have been much better if we got more scenes where we see interactions between Dick, Alfred and Damian. This title is supposed to be centered around these three characters, specifically Dick and Damian, but that is not the case. Morrison is at his best when writing scenes with these three characters but since they only play second fiddle in their own book this issue suffers from that.
And I think the big thing that is hurting this storyline is that it is only three issues long. This story arc is over in the next issue which means Morrison has to rush through the whole story. There isn’t much mystery to who Red Hood is, no build to the dominos Dick keeps finding in crime scenes, or more of what the crime bosses Morrison used last issue were doing. While usually I wouldn’t be for lengthening storylines I think in this case Morrison would have been better off making this story arc an issue longer to develop these plotlines to make them more interesting.
As I said earlier Philip Tan’s artwork in this issue wasn’t as a good as it was in the previous issue. And one of the reasons is that the inking and coloring for this issue tried to do too much. At certain points it is hard to see everything that is going on due to the heavy inking. Also it does not help that Tan’s transition between panels was at times awkward and rushed.
Overall: Batman and Robin #5 was a disappointing read. This was the worst issue Morrison has provided in this series. Hopefully this only proves to be a minor stumble in the road and not a sign of things to come as before this issue Morrison has made this title one of the best titles DC has on the market. So I hope Morrison recovers in the next issue and gives us a solid ending to what might be a very dull arc that feels like nothing more than a filler arc so far.