Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chronic Review: Batman & Robin # 10

Batman & Robin # 10
DC Comics

Script: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Andy Clarke
22 pages for $2.99

I was mildly interested in this as the beginning of the "return of Bruce Wayne", and extraordinarily interested in this because it was billed as "Batman Vs. Damian." So what's the verdict?

Before I get to that, I have a confession to make. I like Damian. I like the idea of a really disturbed 10 year-old who's smarter than you are and entirely too lethal. It feels like kind of a stretch, but sometimes circumstances do create pre-teens who act as though they're 35 years old.

I watch cameras for a living, and occasionally I'll see somebody Damian's age, no adult present at all. I once watched a girl who couldn't have been more than 10 years old do her own school shopping, taking time with her selections, presenting coupons at the register. It was bizarre. The entire vibe and attitude was adult, and it was completely fascinating. Dakota Fanning always came off like that, as well. That's Damian, only with a giant dollop of evil. Maybe.

Most of the book feels like a haunted house mystery, with Dick, Alfred, and Damian trying to piece together what happened to Bruce and how to get him back. There are paintings in Wayne Manor that make it look as though Bruce Wayne has been travelling in time, working his way toward the present. Either that or there's an incredible amount of inbreeding going on, because the faces look awfully similar.

As the dynamic duo look at the paintings and look for clues or messages from the past that Bruce may have left behind from them, Damian begins to question his role should Bruce return.

This is where the juice is for me. Because for all his bluster, (and there's a gale force amount of bluster) Damian rarely does cross lines that Bruce would not. His connection to his father is extremely important to him, and it makes him complex.

As for the great "battle" between Batman and Robin, if you looked at the cover of the comic, you saw everything there was to see. And I felt quite cheated by that. What's interesting about the near-fight scene is that when Damian picks up that sword it's clear that he's suffering from some kind of programming from Talia, and not exercising free will.

I've liked everything that Morrison has done with Batman, and this is no exception. There's always this sense that all of this is an incredibly complex tapestry that he's been weaving from the beginning. There's even a "Batman and Robin will never die" reference (the very image that kicked off RIP) to remind you - I know where we've been, it's all connected, and you aint seen nothin' yet!

Morrison is now taking us down what I would think is the last chapter of his master plan, and I'm curious about where he might be headed. A secret Batcave with occult paraphernalia strewn about? An 18th century Thomas Wayne summoned an ancient bat demon? This is way more interesting than a guy with gadgets beating up drug dealers and sending costumed thugs to Arkham.

I don't think that I'll continue reading the floppies, but I'm quite convinced that I'm going to own everything Morrison wrote on Batman in trade form. If you like the character, there's no reason to be missing this book.

- Ryan

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