Overview

All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #4

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All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #4

Credits

  • Words: Frank Miller
  • Art: Jim Lee
  • Inks: Scott Williams
  • Colors: Alex Sinclair
  • Story Title: Episode Four
  • Publisher: DC Comics/All-Star
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: May 17, 2006

The Batcave is displayed in all its glory while Superman runs errands and Batman forces Robin to eat rats!?!? Not if Alfred has anything to say about it…

A lot is going on in "Episode Four." Miller finally gets Batman and Robin to the Batcave, Superman races across the ocean after last issue’s ominous ending, Vicki Vale struggles for life on a hospital bed, and Alfred’s backbone is predominately displayed in a standoff with the Caped Crusader. And once again, Jim Lee’s pencils are very simply, Jim Lee’s pencils.

In the past, Frank Miller has taken Batman to the darkest depths; now he is taking him to the highest highs. Though this is clearly Robin’s origin story, Batman is also handled with respect. Robin’s voice-over is mocking and full of twelve-year-old machismo hiding his inner fear and Batman’s voice-over is sardonic as he thinks about Superman and his "powers." At times, he sounds a little crazy; Miller lets the reader know Bruce Wayne walks a fine line between sanity and whatever lies on the other side. In previous issues I did have qualms with Batman’s inability to say one sentence without throwing a curse in, but those qualms are small and unimportant compared to the excellent story being told. Miller has uncannily taken the almost campy and surely less tantalizing tale of Robin’s origin and thrown in a modern flare of dramatics, intrigue, and violence that can only make the character of Dick Grayson more complex.

Mix with Jim Lee’s amazing art and there is little to complain about. The man is a machine when he puts pencil to paper. Though some have taken issue with his overabundance of crosshatching, in his current Batman run, he has steered away from that enough to make his works much more appealing. If you question this, if you don’t think Lee is one of the greatest gifts to the comic book industry since Jack Kirby, check out the Batcave on pages 6-11. That’s right, 6-11, a six page spread encompassing all that is cool about the Batcave with a singular style and panache often imitated but only belonging to Jim Lee.
But it wouldn’t look so good without Scott Williams along for the ride. Williams is the Cloak to Lee’s Dagger. Without his steady hand inking the sometimes-sketchy pencils Lee has a tendency to use, the work would not look half as good. Lastly, with Sinclair coloring the book there is an appropriate level of dark and light mixed giving it a superhero with an edge balanced sort of look lacking in many comics these days.

When you put All Star Batman and Robin down, you may not particularly like the title characters. Batman is crazy, mean, and doesn’t seem to have much respect for anything other than his mission. Robin, though he does deserve some sympathy, all things considered, comes off as a bratty little kid with too much talent too soon. But while this version of the Dynamic Duo may be disliked, this book should be read and read again and again…

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