Batman #651


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Batman #651


  • Words: James Robinson
  • Art: Don Kramer
  • Inks: Keith Champagne
  • Colors: John Kalisz
  • Story Title: Face the Face, Part 2
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.50
  • Release Date: Mar 22, 2006

Batman and Robin are back in Gotham and so is a familiar villain. Fighting Poison Ivy should be business as usual...right?

James Robinson has made a triumphant return to comic books with this eight-part story running through Detective Comics and Batman. While Robinson appears to be returning a lot of traditional elements to the character, there are changes as well.

Picking up where Detective Comics #817 left off, the Bat-Signal blazes through the sky but not all are happy to see it and not all have the same reasons for not being happy.  Gotham City has obviously seen some changes through the past year but so have Batman and Robin. In the case of the Dynamic Duo, those changes seem to be for the better. With Gotham’s protectors back, could it be long before their enemies returned as well? Of course not. Poison Ivy strikes first, taking a group of CEOs hostage but her powers are now far greater than they once were. Will she prove to be a match for Batman and Robin?

James Robinson has won a number of fans over the years both for his work on Starman and his revamp of the JSA several years ago. Here he proves that he has a perfect grasp of all the things that make Batman classic. Not just the characters themselves, but also the dialogue, the actions, and the attitudes are all in perfect line. It is particularly smile-inducing to see Batman and Robin working together like the practiced, effortless team they have been in the past. Whether the Robin is Dick Grayson (as in the past) or Tim Drake (as here) fans have come to expect a code of trust and camaraderie that is in full force here.

Kudos simply must go to artist Don Kramer as well. On several pages readers are treated to a kind of ‘split screen’ format that follows Batman on one half of the page and Robin on the other. Kramer handles this format with panache, emphasizing the similarities in the action in such a way that the differences are highlighted as well. His grasp of anatomy and movement is wonderfully fluid and he has mastered the trick of letting a character’s body language speak as much as the dialogue does.

I have to admit; I was not as impressed with the colors on this issue though. John Kalisz is an experienced professional who has never disappointed in the past but here I found the colors a bit murky on a couple of pages. The shadows seemed to have a bit too much of a purple or mauve cast. This was my only gripe, however, in an otherwise strong issue.

It has been years since I have picked up a regular Batman comic (not counting Jeph Loeb’s "Hush" story arc) and the One Year Later event has been broadcast as the perfect place for new readers to jump on. While some of the story elements obviously point to a mystery, it is fair to note that all readers are starting with this mystery on the ground floor. All of us are in the dark and wanting to know more. It is to Robinson’s strength that he takes these mysterious elements and uses them to draw the reader in, rather than turning them off.  Between this, and the return of a Batman that feels more timeless than anything else, it looks to be a good time to become a Batman fan.

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