Overview

All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #1

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All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #1

Credits

  • Words: Frank Miller
  • Art: Jim Lee
  • Inks: Scott Williams
  • Colors: Alex Sinclair
  • Story Title: Chapter One
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jul 14, 2005

The Dynamic Duo of comic creators takes on the Dynamic Duo of comic characters. The outcome: not quite dynamic.

In his heyday, Frank Miller created some of the most compelling noir comics the industry has ever seen. His Daredevil and Batman works (Batman: Year One happens to be my all-time favorite Bat-story) are held in especially high regard, as they helped to shape a more maturely themed direction for "mainstream" comics to follow. Since those days in the late 1980s, Miller has strayed from mainstream superhero comics for the most part, instead focusing on creator-owned properties like Sin City, Ronin and Robocop.

Jim Lee has been perhaps the biggest name in comics--from an art standpoint--for well over a decade. His smooth lines and fantastic action and realism have been a huge draw for some otherwise mediocre (some better, some worse) comics in the past few years especially. He, too, as many will recall, has delivered some fine work on a Bat-title when he (and the rest of this art team) teamed with Jeph Loeb a couple years ago to bring us the controversial yet pretty "Hush" storyline in Batman.

Knowing these two were coming together for the first time for a sort of Year Two story where Dick Grayson is introduced into Batman’s world…well, that’s a no-brainer. This story is going to be GOLDEN from the get-go, right? Well, hold the Bat-phone. There’s mediocrity in them thar pages.

The book opens focusing mainly on bombshell reporter Vicki Vale and her dictating the unfortunate sides of living in Gotham City. The dialogue, at first, establishes this all-but-forgotten character as a tough, no nonsense gal about town. Then she segues into talking about Bruce Wayne, and that’s when the dialogue for the remainder of the book turns south. She talks about Bruce like a smitten teen having her first crush, and from there it goes downhill fast. Dick Grayson is later performing at an ill-fated circus with his mother and father on the trapeze and the dialogue not only turns repetitive ad nauseum, there is a line by Ms. Vale as she and Bruce watch young Mr. Grayson, that implies that she thinks Bruce may be a little unnaturally drawn to the young man. It was a line that I might find humorous in any other setting, but here it was distracting.

For their part, Lee, Williams and Sinclair turn in better work here than they did on "Hush." Despite the obvious gratuitousness of Vicki Vale’s introduction (which probably sounds worse than it actually is), Lee’s pencils seem a little less refined, which turns out looking better for the tone this story wants to have. Looking back at Miller’s most recent Bat-tale, the Elseworlds sequel The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Miller likes the splash pages. There are perhaps too many here, even for the strikingly gorgeous art. And probably the best part of the art resides in the final page, where we get to see Batman for the first and only time. It looks to be an impressive homage to Miller’s version of Batman with just the right amount of edge.

Okay, so the dialogue could have been better. And the characterization was a little off at times. However, not all hope is lost. Miller is reestablishing that Gotham, especially in the early days of the Batman, was an extremely corrupt town. The line between cop and criminal wasn’t just very fine, it really didn’t exist at all. Miller also gives Grayson/Robin’s origin a little bit of a tweaking, drawing the parallels between he and Batman’s even closer than before. All that, and we still have yet to see Miller bring Jim Gordon into the fold.

This might be one of those "wait for the trade" stories after all. The ingredients are certainly there for this to turn out good. I just hope that when it’s all served up, I’m not staring at "meatloaf again."

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