There’s a lot riding on this series, but I don’t think anyone would expect it to not be a success. Famed Scottish scribe Grant Morrison killed Bruce Wayne/Batman in Final Crisis #6 a few months ago, but as we all know the term “comic book death” exists for a reason. Bruce Wayne isn’t really dead though, just unseen, trapped in the past. He’ll come back at some point, but it seems DC aren’t in a hurry to do so. June brings a slew of new titles focused on the new Batman and Robin and how that affects Gotham and its unusual citizens. If you don’t know who that new crime fighting duo are, here it is; former Robin Dick Grayson has now replaced his mentor as the new Batman, while Bruce Wayne’s son Damian is the new Robin. Apart from the slightly improved costumes for both this is also a fresh start for the costumed pair. Really, Batman and Robin haven’t appeared together that frequently over the decades, especially in the last few years. This is due to the fact that both characters have had their own separate series, so it’s great to see them together in a regular monthly series. Not that Dick as Batman and Damian as Robin have ever teamed up as such, however. As Dick says, ‘This is it. Batman and Robin. Together again for the first time.”
This issue opens with a car of criminals, led by the aptly named Toad, being chased down a freeway by the sleek new Batmobile, which thanks to Damian’s technical know-how, now flies. The first time we see the new Dynamic Duo, it is as they are sitting in their crimson vehicle and it’s a subtle, yet great intro. Damian looks defiant and brash, whereas Dick is more amiable than his dark predecessor. Toad is captured, but doesn’t give up any information, only warning them of his boss, the cruel Pyg. We then visit the new Batcave, under Dick’s hi-rise apartment complex in a tidy scene that sums up recent events ably, with Alfred offering sandwiches and encouragement to the new team.
We then see Commissioner Gordon waiting by the Batsignal, hoping against reason that the Batman he knows will show, despite months of not doing so. However, he sees the new pair descend from the hovering Batmobile and through the light of the Batsignal in their paracapes. It’s a poster worthy image.
Lastly, we see for ourselves the bad guy Toad mentioned. And what a bad guy he is. Morrison seems to like to bring in creepy new villains in whatever series he writes and excels himself here. Pyg and his cohorts are all masked as they break in to a former underling’s house and torture him, with the declaration that,”Pyg is here to make everything perfect.” This scene sums up the issue well – a dab of horror and foreboding with costumed characters aplenty. Frank Quitely’s art is powerful here, as it always is when he works with Morrison (as he did on WE3 and All Star Superman). His figures always seem slightly off-centre and never dashing or handsome. His layouts, and even the design of the sound effects as an artistic element, are pleasing to the eye to be sure. This is a brisk issue, and Morrison and Quitely are on this series for the first 3 issues only, but have succeeded in their desire to make a grand and mature first impression, on Gotham’s bad guys and us readers.
The last page is a four panel glimpse of things to come in the next two issues, including the unsurprising break-up of Batman and Robin, the new Red Hood (as some will know as Joker’s first alias in The Killing Joke, as well as that of former Robin Jason Todd). The image of the new Red Hood also has a silhouette of the female Scarlet, presumably his sidekick. This kind of anti-Batman and Robin is just the sort of idea that Morrison will get a kick out of exploring. The last two images are of the new Batwoman (who takes over as the lead in Detective Comics this month) fighting Dick with the torso of Bruce Wayne watching, over what could be a life giving Lazarus Pit, and a close up of the evil Dr. Hurt holding the keys to Wayne Manor. If you’ve been away from the Bat books for a while, this is a wonderful time to delve back in.
Go here for a preview.