Batman & Robin: Batman vs. Robin – Graphic Novel Review
TITLE: Batman vs. Robin
AUTHOR: Grant Morrison
PENCILLERS: Cameron Stewart, Andy Clarke. Cover by Frank Quitely.
COLLECTS: Batman & Robin #7-12
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
RELEASE DATE: November 3
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
Oh, Grant Morrison. You anger me so much with confusing, convoluted crap like Final Crisis. But then you write stuff like this and I just can’t hate you.
This is the second volume of Morrison’s Batman & Robin title, in which he writes about Dick Grayson and Damian’s adventures as the Dynamic Duo. Continuing with the pattern the first volume set, the book contains two 3-issue story arcs, both with a different artist.
In the first story, Grayson tries to resurrect Bruce Wayne using the skeleton that was found during Final Crisis. With help from Knight and Squire, and some incidental help from Batwoman, he uses a Lazarus Pit to try and bring the original Batman back to the land of the living. The results are disastrous, and all parties involved must fight for their lives. But ultimately, it will be Damian who faces the greatest danger.
The second tale ties directly into Morrison’s The Return of Bruce Wayne, as Dick, Damian and Alfred search Wayne Manor for clues that may have been left for them by Bruce. Little do they know that Talia al Ghul has a nasty surprise in store for them, the results of which will alter her relationship with her son Damian forever. But the book’s biggest shocker comes from a mysterious masked detective named Oberon Sexton, whose true identity will leave your jaws on the floor.
Though we never actually see Bruce Wayne in this book, his presence is felt heavily. Everything in the book revolves around him. Can they bring him back? Is he alive? If so, where is he? What clues he left, etc. Morrison spends all six issues building suspense around Bruce Wayne’s return. Then, on the last page, he blows up a totally different powder keg with Oberon Sexton’s true identity. It’s a really well done storyline swerve, the likes of which you don’t see every day.
Though the characters are focused on Bruce Wayne, the true star of the book is Damian. He has some really great character moments. He has a great exchange with Talia toward the end of the book, which hints he’s more emotionally vulnerable than his usual demeanor suggests.
The first arc is drawn by Cameron Stewart, who proves himself worthy of the title. But it’s Andy Clarke that steals the show in the second half. His work has a texture to it that really suits this story. The individual issue covers were all done by Frank Quitely. Ironically, the one they used as the cover art for this book is the only one I have a problem with. What’s the deal with Batman in that picture? He looks too skinny. I know Dick Grayson is slimmer than Bruce Wayne, but not that much so. And his mouth looks…awkward. What the hell, Frank?
For my money, this book is the first half of what will turn out to be a really amazing 12-issue story arc, which ties directly into Morrison’s work on Batman: R.I.P. Granted, his entire run with Batman & Robin has been awesome. But in this book, the intensity really cranks up. It’s been a number of months since I first read the material, and I STILL can’t get over how shocking the Oberon Sexton reveal was.
What can I say, Grant? When you’re bad, you’re bad. But when you’re on your game, you’re one of the best ever.