Thursday, June 04, 2009

Batman and Robin #1 Annotations

Like my previous annotations/commentary on Morrison's Batman, this is not so much a scholarly look at a comic book page-by-page as it is me making fun of stuff and/or pointing out what I notice. I may point you in directions you hadn't yet considered, but I would never guarantee anything that foolish.

Batman and Robin #1 Annotations

Cover: I'm not a huge fan of the "Battle of the Planets" Batmobile, but I'm sure it will grow on me as it continues to fly through Gotham and blow stuff up. I do like the utter simplicity of Quitely's Batman design -- classic, yet with a bit of weight in the boots to show this well-grounded Dick Grayson incarnation. I also like the return of the green on the Robin costume, as if Damian insisted "hey, Neal Adams, man! We can't just throw out his design!" and I like the Doc Martens, because Damian Wayne does not wear slippers (in fact, that's the subtitle of the next Robin spin-off miniseries). The best bit of the Robin costume is the black hood on top of the yellow cape because Damian doesn't care about fashion rules. He'll put a damn hood of a different color on top of a a damn yellow cape anytime he wants. He was raised by ninja assassins. Were you?

Page 1: Mr. Toad. Note that "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" isn't actually a ride at Disney World anymore. Instead you can journey through a lame, and pointlessly bouncy, tour of Winne the Pooh's house. Perhaps Morrison's anger at this switch led to the Mickey Eye thing in "Seaguy."

Pages 2-3: Flying Batmobile vs. old-timey car.

Pages 4-5: I imagine Batman says "I'm sorry I ever doubted you, Damian" in the tone of a middle school basketball coach, trying his best to be patient and supportive, but really wanting to tell the other kids to beat the little punk up after practice. This Batmobile shoots rockets that go boom.

Pages 6-7: "Never use real names in the field" is code for: "the exposition's over, pal, so start talking like these readers have actually read 'Battle for the Cowl' (even though we're as surprised as anyone that they actually did)." This Batmobile also has grappling powers. All it needs is a pair of metal fists. And Mr. Toad speaks like a carnie.

Pages 8-9: The double punch is a strategy employed heavily in the "Batman" television show from the 1960s, which is the feeling Morrison is apparently aiming for here. No sound effects, though, because that wouldn't make this panel ironic, it would just make it silly. Dominoes are also known as "bones" because doctors, aka "sawbones" used to get paid in dominoes (okay, that is probably not true at all). Does anyone draw gloves better than Frank Quitely? The answer is no.

Pages 10-11: The two pages that render all of "Battle of the Cowl" and its tie-ins completely irrelevant. Good. Also: Batman's grave, but nothing is written on it! Could it be that he's not really dead? Perhaps that final page at the end of "Final Crisis" #7 that showed Bruce Wayne alive in a caveman cave meant that Bruce Wayne is not, in fact, dead but rather alive in a caveman cave.

Page 12: See, I told you dominoes were called bones! Also, this page is a complete rip-off of Chris Ware's "Building Stories" and he should probably sue.

Page 13: The exposition ain't done yet, it turns out. But a European circus performer? That's menacing. And, no, eating chicken and jalapeno sandwiches don't make you a badass, Dick Grayson, as Damian is quick to prove.

Page 14: Who says, "crime is doomed"? Dick Grayson, right? He is turning into the sarcastic middle school basketball coach already. Also, Damian should drop a League of Assassins reference in every conversation. "So, did you catch the 'Lost' season finale?" "No, because I was raised by the masters of my mother's League of Assassins." "Do you like jalapeno sandwiches, with chicken?" "Dick Grayson, I will cut out your pansy tongue with a machete I carved from the spine of Charles Manson as I was taught by the masters of my mother's League of Assassins." Etc.

Pages 15-16: Disrespectful brats always talk about other people having to "earn" their respect. The "Tim Drake" line really puts Damian in his place, though. Dick Grayson may get promoted to junior varsity b-ball coach before this issue is over. Also, Pyg's doll gals are creepy. Pyg and his dolls appeared way back in "Batman" #666, remember that one? The one that was an "alternate future" where Damian was Batman? The one that seems less and less like an alternate future and more and more like what could really happen if Morrison stayed on this comic long enough? That was a good issue, wasn't it? This art is way better.

Pages 17-18: I know it's expressionistic and I understand foreshortening, but Frank Quitely's Batman can reach down and grab hold of his kneecaps without even bending over. His arms must have stretched after all those years of swinging around Gotham. I do like how Robin is bigger and in the foreground. This is the "Robin and Batman" series at this point. Grayson needs to step up and smack the little brat with those baboon arms of his.

Pages 19-20: That guy with the flaming skull? It's not the Flaming Skull. (He's Phosphorus Rex.)

Pages 21-22: Pyg is apparently not a professor yet. He's got a whole Leatherface thing going on here, which is pretty terrifying actually. And the acid mask gag? Didn't the Black Mask used to do something like that? Anyway, things look bleak for Niko and family. I don't think Robin will care too much about saving them. He was raised by assassins.

Page 23: I don't know if that's Jason Todd or not, but in that single panel, he looks cooler than he does in every previous appearance combined. Also: Dr. Hurt returns and he's got the keys to a building that's been blown up. Why is he all braggy about it? Because he's Satan, that's why! Or he's Bruce Wayne's father, that's why! Neither of which were raised by any sort of assassins, as far as I know.

No obscure 1950's "Batman" comics to reference this month? Maybe I'll drop this series and see what Winick's got going on.

Morrison and Quitely!!!


Bruce Castle said...

Frazer Irving is the third artist on Batman and Robin!

Even though you may already know that, I thought that was more interesting than saying "I too liked this issue."

Poor, poor Phillip Tan, drawing in-between Frank Quitely and Frazer Irving. I know you don't like his art, but you have to feel sorry for the guy.

Kris Krause said...

Irving was who I suspected/hoped the third arc would go to. Nice to hear it's true.

Ive said...

I took the graphical sound effects in the first few pages as an obvious Adam West Batman shout out.

James said...

The Andy Kubert jab seems unnecessary, given the intervening months (year?) of Tony "Chicken-Scratch" Daniel.

Timothy Callahan said...

Andy Kubert jab? Saying "this art is way better" is a jab? Have you seen Frank Quitely comics? He's way better than almost everyone (except Cameron Stewart on this week's Seaguy!)

And, Frazer Irving is such a brilliant choice. Tan in the middle...not so much.

Oh no, I took a "jab" at Tan. Relax, internet.

Chad Nevett said...

See, now I'm wondering why they couldn't have put Tan on Green Lantern (where he was already doing art, right?) and Doug Mahnke on this book (since he was one of the rumoured artists at one point)... then we'd be somewhere!

Jason D. Manger said...

Great annotations! And I did thoroughly enjoy this book.

Unknown said...

Yeah, Nevett, you're right. What the hell is Dan Didio Thinking? They really should have just kept Philip Tan on Green Lantern and gave "Batman and Robin" Doug Mahnke. Why does crap like this always happen at DC?

Chad Nevett said...

Actually, I assume it has to do with Green Lantern needing to keep its schedule to tie-in with Blackest Night -- something Mahnke can do. Whereas three issues of Batman and Robin with a decent lead time is more realistic for a slower artist.

Unknown said...

Doesn't Grant Morrison have enough clout to demand certain artists? Like aren't there any newish South American Artists that DC could try for Batman and Robin? Or did Marvel Comics abduct them all?

Unknown said...

It looks like Philip Tan is going to be tackling "The Red Hood" arc on Batman and Robin. Which I think is unfortunate, I was really looking forward to that one.

Bruce Castle said...

Stop jabbing artists, Callahan! The art comes out all scribbly when you do.

So much Tan hate. Maybe he'll surprise us all and it will look really good? Probably not, but a man can dream, right?

I wish Cameron Stewart was on the second arc. I felt bad when I heard that the sales for the new Seaguy are really low. It'd be nice if the mainstream could appreciate the man's work.

James said...

"Saying "this art is way better" is a jab?"

Isn't it? Kubert goes in the list of good artists he's worked with lately, is all I'm saying.

Unknown said...

So who's in that picture with Ace the Bat-Hound? Katy Kane and....?

Matt Jacobson said...

Was Dick's comment that he "would've killed to have a flyign batmobile when he was Robin" a shot at Frank Miller or no? (I'm thinking of the flying Batmobile in ASB #3 or 4 and Ribin's underwhelmed response to the whole thing)

Greg said...

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is still a ride at Disneyland, at least. I don't know about Disney World, but it's there in SoCal.

Sorry for commenting so late; I just got the issue, so I had to come back and read this.