To commemorate the 80th anniversary of Batman (#LongLiveTheBat), AFJ has decided to join in the fun with columns, lists, and reviews from now until Batman Day (Sept. 15th, 2019). The incredible thing about 80 years of Batman in pop culture is that we can literally feature anything from comics to movies to how many ice puns Arnold Schwarzenegger had in 1997's Batman & Robin. Yes, someone bothered to count them (Google it Millenials). #AFJ4LIFE
This week we are looking back 10 years at the debut of a book called Batman & Robin ( I cannot believe it's been ten years already). Batman is DEAD. Following Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis the Batman was no more. Apparently killed by Darkseid's Omega beams at the end of Final Crisis. The Bat-family was thrown into utter chaos. They knew there needed to be a Batman, but who would step up? Eventually, Dick Grayson finally reclaimed the cowl from Jason Todd in the "Battle For The Cowl" arc.
Written by Grant Morrison and art by the talented Frank Quitely, Batman & Robin debuted August 2009. The book landed amongst a pretty "audible" online roar. The #Notmybatman started (LOL). I, being a hardcore Batman fan, understood the outcry, but I also had a little faith in the direction. Morrison wrote amazing books…. some were definitely hit or miss, but a majority were hit.
My comic shop was having a midnight release party for this book. When I got home, I couldn't wait to tear into it. The excitement of it being a good book or terrible did have me on edge a little. I'll be honest. I mean, DC did say this wasn't temporary, so who knew.
I read that first issue, and was blown away! Not only was the direction new, but the feel was also new. Gone were the all too familiar rogue's gallery of Batman. There were new villains! It was just a refreshing way to "reboot" these classic characters.
The first villain we're introduced to is Mr. Toad. The first issue starts with him on the run from this new Dynamic Duo. He doesn't put up much of a fight but introduces our heroes to a clue that'll run through the first story arc.
Dick Grayson struggles in his role as Batman. He's uncomfortable wearing the cowl of his mentor. He's also thrown into the role of teacher and mentor to an obstinate Damian Wayne who resents him for taking his father's place. By the 2nd issue, Robin has already "quit" the team. So watching their relationship grow was another refreshing part of these books. They truly form that brotherly bond in the book.
By book 3, we're introduced to the villain of the first arc, Professor Pyg. He is demented beyond all description in this book. If you played Arkham Knight, let me tell you. They didn't even come close (LOL).
These books were definitely very fast-paced but very well written. Villains didn't last more than a couple of issues which is a nice touch and keeps the book fresh. My only gripe if the series would be the introduction of the "new" Red Hood. Jason Todd is back, but Morrison changed him completely. It completely stopped the momentum he had from "Under The Red Hood".
All in all, Dick Grayson's run as The Batman was a very enjoyable experience. If you haven't, pick up Vol. 1 and I guarantee that you'll be hooked. Of course, Batman & Robin wasn't the only Bat title to have Dick Grayson as Batman since Bruce Wayne was dead, but I think it's the best place to start to get a feel for the new Dark Knight.