Saturday, August 24, 2013

I Reads You Review: All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder #1


WRITER: Frank Miller
INKS: Scott Williams
COLORS: Alex Sinclair
LETTERS: Jared K. Fletcher
36pp, Color, $2.99 U.S., $4.00 CAN (September 2005)

I only read a few issues of All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, but I have been thinking about it, on and off, for the last year or so.  Why?  It’s best not to dig too deep.

Thanks to Mile High Comics’ constant stream of deep-discount sales, I was able to get another copy of All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder #1.  [I don’t know what happened to the first copy I had.].  I can’t remember how much or if I liked it the first time I read it back in 2005.  I do remember not liking issue #2.  This time, however, I really enjoyed reading #1.

As you may remember, All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, written by Frank Miller and drawn by Jim Lee, was the first series to be launched in 2005 under DC Comics’ then new “All Star” imprint.  This imprint was to feature comic book miniseries produced by writers and artists who were renowned in the American comic book industry.  Each series would feature stories that take place outside DC Universe continuity and would also retell the history (in part) of a prominent DC Universe character, while being set in its own continuity and in a separate universe  [Yes, I know; this is all fan jargon].

All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder #1 opens with a splash page of young Dick Grayson of the circus acrobatic team, The Flying Graysons.  Then, the story moves to the swanky Gotham City apartment of intrepid, sex-pot reporter, Vicki Vale.  Alfred Pennyworth calls to inform her that she has a date with millionaire Bruce Wayne.  Wayne takes Vale to the circus, and she wonders why Wayne admits to keeping an “eye’ on young Dick.  It culminates in a double homicide and an extended action scene involving a car chase and The Batman.

Frank Miller has apparently described All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder as being set in the same universe as his Bat-magnum opus, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.  Actually, Miller’s dialogue reads like something he wrote for Sin City – tongue-in-cheek and sharp-edged.  I see characters in this series as dark, arrogant and/or supremely confident – depending on how I interpret a scene.  Once again, this is more Sin City than Batman.

The joy of All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder #1 is Jim Lee’s pencil art.  With Scott Williams’s dexterous yet precise inks and Alex Sinclair’s gleaming, neon-like colors, Lee is doing his version of Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and Lynn Varley’s art for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

Lee began cleaning up his compositions of inconsequential crosshatching and other extraneous line work beginning with his twelve-issue run on Batman (entitled “Hush”) back in 2002.  He began to focus more on page design and the graphic design within each panel.  The result was better looking art.

Here, Lee captures the stylish sensibilities of early Batman comic books, a mixture of newspaper comic strip art and pulp fiction illustration, with art deco flourishes.  Lee seems to be having fun with All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder #1, and I’m having fun reading it.  I look forward to reading #2, again.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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