Thursday, June 4, 2009

Batman & Robin: Morrison & Quitely

If you're a fan of superhero comics, how can you look at the cover to Batman and Robin #1 and not want to pick it up!?

When I'd first heard months ago that Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely were going to do a new Batman and Robin comic, the superhero geek side of me got very excited. I like a lot of Morrison's writing, although he can also go into the wonky too many ideas territory (and not in the good way - see Final Crisis and Batman RIP), but when he works with Quitely that combination is gold. My excitement got knocked down a few notches though when I found out that Quitely was only going to do three issues in a row (with another three issues planned for the fourth arc). So while I was faily certain that the first three issues of Batman and Robin were going to be good, I was concerned with the shortness of the first arc and the rotating art teams (this happened when Morrison did New X-Men and Quitely only did a couple three issue arcs here and there and most of the other artists weren't on the same page as Morrison). The artist for the second art is supposed to be Philip Tan, who's done some Green Lantern, but while he's good, he's not an artist I get terribly excited about. I am encouraged by who I've heard is the artist for the third arc - Frazer Irving (Klarion The Witchboy, written by Morrison and he did the art for the recent Azrael mini series. Irving is a hugely under-rated artist so I like to think his run on this title will up his profile (except the negative side of me suspects that he's not able to do many more issues then Quitely is in a year).

My expectations were pretty high going into my reading of the first issue of Batman and Robin so I was a little underwhelmed, because as my friend Rob commented, it felt short and knowing that Quitely is only going to be doing three issues just feels like he'll be gone before the story really gets a chance to get cooking. The ad placement in the first issue of Batman and Robin is really annoying and breaks up the flow of the story so that didn't help my initial "is that all there is" impressions. I also felt that this first issue wasn't as strong out of the gate as their first issue of All Star Superman was, but part of that is that there's fewer really good Superman stories, so when Morrison and Quitely did All Star Superman, they really made that character more exciting than he'd been in years.

Have you (yup, you, the discriminating readers of my blog - thank you) ever listened to a cd or watched a movie and didn't really like it, but upon listening or watching it again, you really enjoyed said cd or movie? Maybe it was because you were in a grumpy mood, tired, or just had crazy high expectations. Well I think that was the case with me and my first read of Batman and Robin. Having just gotten done re-reading Batman and Robin, I'd definitely say that my first reading of this book falls under the above-mentioned description.

Things to love about the first issue of Batman and Robin (mild spoilers, just think of the following as teasers): The flying batmobile, the dynamic between Dick and Daimen, Damien calling Alfred "Pennyworth", the great cinematic story-telling artistic prowess of Frank Quitely, and great odd story quirks "crime is doomed" provided by Grant Morrison (without being the huge "what the ..." that Final Crisis and RIP were). Also while re-reading Batman and Robin, I was thinking that it's going to be fun reading about two different characters wearing the Batman and Robin suits and even though we all know that eventually Bruce Wayne will be back as Batman, this plot / story device should make for an interesting addition to the Batman mythos. And although I'm going to continue to lament that Quitely is only doing three issues, I like to think that there are some other good artists on tap for this title and they'll be able to maintain the momentum this issue does have (once you put crazy expectations aside and just accept that it'll be a loooong time before Quitely does more than three issues of anything because it really does make you want to read the next issue right now!).

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