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Grant Morrison has been both a friend and a mortal enemy to fans of the Batman. One thing is the same, however: Batman and Robin is one of the greatest ongoing series at the moment. Possibly the best. With an in-depth story and stunning art, this issue fails to disappoint.
The “Batman and Robin Must Die” story arc comes to a conclusion in this bizarre story, directly linking it with the “Return of Bruce Wayne.” Professor Pyg and Dr. Hurt are together on a road full of rampage and it’s up to the Batman to stop them… with a little help from the Joker and a kidnapped Damian Wayne.
Grant Morrison has created a dark tale with great characterization. His writing of the Joker is by far Morrison’s best work here – the Joker is perfectly sadistic, seen dancing with a corpse like it was their wedding day. He continues to wear the Oberon Sexton costume without the mask, which is a nice change of apparel – but maybe not for fans of the classic Joker with his purple suit and deadly gags. His most dangerous one in this is a banana. Yes, Joker’s laughing gas makes no appearance, or any of his other classic toys, but his mind is more dangerous than all of them combined.
Morrison’s skill is not carried over to Dick Grayson. He is not written as well as he has been by Tony Daniel (Batman). Of course, he was barely in this issue so it was less apparent than it has been in other issues. The ending was also not as big a surprise as it should be since the Batman One-shots came out before it. It would be better to have started with this issue and then moved on to the “Return of Bruce Wayne.”
Frazer Irving’s art just makes the comic better, especially his take on Joker’s haunting profile. At first the way Frazier drew the Joker was questioned by a lot of fans but the new look has found it’s rightful place in the Joker and matches perfectly with the grim tone of the story. The only set-back the art has is the effect it has on Damian Wayne. Everyone else had very expressive features that fit well with their moods except him. His face looks scrunched up and it takes me out of the story. The color scheme nicely compliments the art and has a surreal feel to it.
The cover art was nice, but it was recently noted that the cover originally had a satanic symbol in the background of an upside down cross that was removed before being published. This doesn’t really make too much sense since the comic is often coated with innuendos and satanic concepts. The cover was just a more obvious symbol, but it does not make the cover lose any deeper meaning. Then there is the variant cover with dark colors that nicely showcase the issue as a whole.
This is the perfect read to begin the “Return of Bruce Wayne” story, or if you just want to experience a stand-alone story with wonderful art and a masterpiece of a story that will have you filled with impatience as you wait for Grant Morrison’s ever changing timetable to swing back around to this series. Batman and Robin has been an amazing read over the past year, and this issue does not disappoint.