Friday, September 6, 2013

I Reads You Review: All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder #2


WRITER: Frank Miller
INKS: Scott Williams
COLORS: Alex Sinclair
LETTERS: Jared K. Fletcher
40pp, Color, $2.99 U.S., $4.00 CAN (November 2005)

Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger

Recently I started reading All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, again.  Written by Frank Miller and drawn by Jim Lee, All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder was the first series in DC Comics’ then new “All Star” imprint.  This publishing initiative would offer comic book miniseries produced by writers and artists who were renowned in the American comic book industry.  The Batman All-Star title was shortly followed by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All Star Superman.

I can’t remember how much or if I liked All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder #1, but I did enjoy it after recently reading it again.  How did I feel about All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder #2?  I certainly remember my feelings because I have written proof.  Here is my review of it for the Comic Book Bin, back in 2005:

What can I say? All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder is a bigger over-hyped bomb than Batman: Hush, and Jim Lee’s art was better. Honestly, I don’t think that many people expected this title to be great, but buying it has to be a necessity to so many super hero comic buyers precisely because of the reason for the hype – Frank Miller and Jim Lee.

The problem is Frank Miller. He stated in one the of interviews he gave concerning ASBARTBW that this title was taking place in the Batman “universe” he created for The Dark Knight Returns. However, this title lacks the explosive, in-your-face drama of DKR or the wacky, cartoonish violence that made The Dark Knight Strikes Again fun to read. This Batman doesn’t seem at all like any Batman ever portrayed in a DC comic. He rambles and his violence seems joystick directed. In fact, I would say that if a Batman like this exists anywhere, it’s probably in one of those unproduced screenplays Warner Bros. has commissioned over the years while they developed various Batman feature films. Miller even makes Alfred the butler a former military special operative. Whatever.

Having a bad script could have reduced Jim Lee to being an unimaginative art robot. But all his drafting skills are on display; the man can draw to the point of impressing the viewer. Lee struggles to make good compositions out of this mess, and for the most part he succeeds. If there is any fun in this, it’s seeing this virtuoso pianist turn a lame symphony into easy listening eye candy.


Wow!  I really hated on Miller, and, as usual, I completely hung on Jim Lee’s jockstrap.  So I recently read All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder #2 again, and I certainly liked it more than I did the first time.

Miller’s script is certainly over-the-top, but this time, I think that there are only a few pages that come across as tedious.  I think Miller has always seen Batman as being similar to Clint Eastwood’s screen persona, especially Eastwood as “Dirty” Harry Callahan.  That has never been more obvious than in All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, and this time it works for me, for the most part.

The last three or four pages are basically a two-man play featuring Batman and a grieving Dick Grayson.  Miller handles this with a mixture of pathos and humor that belie this series’ general acerbic tone.  I think Miller is having fun with “his Batman,” while lampooning his audience’s expectations or demands that he give them a proper sequel to Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

As for Jim Lee’s art, produced with Scott Williams (inks) and Alex Sinclair (colors):  I’m starting to think that All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder is Lee’s best work.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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