Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The new Dynamic Duo
Collecting the first six issues of the new Batman and Robin comic book series, I enjoyed the handsome hardback, Batman and Robin: Batman Reborn, quite a bit. Upon finishing it, however, I did find it a little strange that the book is being aggressively marketed to casual Batman fans shopping in various mainstream bookstores (where I bought my copy), and not just to hardcore comics fans via comic-book shops.
Why? Because, right out of the box, Batman and Robin: Batman Reborn drops you right in the middle of a turbulent period in these characters' lives, with minimal orientation, and bombshells galore: Bruce Wayne is dead! The former Robin is now Batman! The new Robin is Bruce Wayne's son, recently rescued from the nest of assassins who was raising him! Wow. And all that stuff is already in place before page one!
Will all this be confusing to the casual fan? Maybe not, but it's definitely helpful to read the jacket notes and other dust-jacket copy before diving in, as one gets at least a little "set up" there. Heck, I found it helpful, and I'm always at least semi-aware of the latest developments in the major comic book series out there.
In any event, once you get immersed, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's collected tales are fun and weird, mixing mainstream Batman fare (action, drama, fights, and detecting) with David Lynch-style strangeness. However, I found that the weird and strange elements undercut the momentum and drama of a particular story just as often as they strengthened them. But that's just me. If you can't get enough of weird, "out there" stuff in your comics, you'll be ecstatic.
I guess I shouldn't complain. Because it's so easy for Batman stories to fall back on tried-and-true boilerplate plots, I should welcome stories and scenes that sometimes make one work a little to truly appreciate them. Hey, I'm definitely going to pick up volume two when it's released, so I guess I'm not complaining too much.