Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Batman and Robin #10 Review *Spoilers*

What's this?  A Batman and Robin #10 review?  After all that talk of dropping it and not even mentioning it in this week's previews?  Well, seems like I forgot to mention to my shop that I didn't want this series held anymore. Not wanting to stick him with an extra copy, I bought the issue and, well, goddamn am I glad I did.  There are some nitpicks (very tiny, honest), which I'll get to in the full review, but I think I had more fun reading this issue than even the opening arc.  Hit the jump for my full image and spoiler filled review.



BATMAN AND ROBIN #10
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Andy Clarke

As I said in the introduction to this review, I had way too much fun reading this issue.  I looked like a grinning idiot while reading it.  From the opening pages with Damian taking charge at a Wayne Enterprises meeting to the clues about Batman in the past to turning Wayne Manor into the setting of a Scooby-Doo-like mystery with hidden passages and secret batcaves and so on, it was just a pleasure to read this. 

Some of my complaints about previous issues dealt with the manner in which Grant Morrison crafted those tales.  The second and third arc, in particular, felt like he was trying to tell a metatextual story, one that dealt with things beyond the scope of the universe and characters that live there, first and foremost and the actual story came second and suffered for it. 

 Batman and Gravedigger (Mo-mo-monster trucks!) discuss the Domino Killer case.

However, this fourth arc avoids those failings and starts incredibly strong with a big push towards the upcoming Return of Bruce Wayne storyline.  While Andy Clarke does a top notch job on the art with a clean and detailed style, I believe the strength of this issue is owed to Morrison's ability to turn Wayne Manor into a living, breathing entity (figuratively, of course).  Similar to Morrison's Joe the Barbarian, where a diabetic induced hallucination has the protagonist's home turned into a fantasy world, effectively making the house its own character in that story, Morrison does the same for Wayne Manor, but in a slightly different way. 

Are they all Bruce Wayne?  We have a pilgrim, one guy holding a "bat bible", another that was into "bat demon worshipping" and countless other hints towards Bruce's guiding hand throughout time. 

Here, we're following the characters through a Scooby-Doo like mystery.  We've got family portraits with mysterious origins, missing paintings, secret passages, and it's like the manor is trying to tell us a story and we're right along side both Batman and Robin as they explore the house and find clues.  In the end, I felt like I was a part of the team trying to find out if Bruce is really alive or not, if he left clues in the manor or if this is all some hoax set up by the Black Glove or something else entirely.  Few comics have been as immersive as this one was and I was only really disappointed when I came to the final page and realized I'd have to wait until next month to read more.

In addition to the mystery of Bruce Wayne and the secrets of Wayne Manor, we were also treated to more on the strange new character, Oberon Sexton, also known as Gravedigger.  He's the guy in the blueish black sock mask, red glasses and top hat and there's even hints that he may be Bruce Wayne, though nothing solid and more like conjecture on my part.  He may simply be connected to the strange "corpse road" and "garden of death" that Alfred mentions just before Gravedigger appears at Wayne Manor's graveyard at issue's end.  He's also giving Dick tips on the Domino Killer case that has permeated every arc so far and even has knowledge of the Black Glove.  I wasn't sure where they were going with him when they first introduced him, but he's become much more interesting over the past couple of issues than in his debut. 

Barbatos, Bahamas, Batman's pretty mommas...

As I mentioned in the intro though, there are some nitpicks one can make with this issue.  For example, Wayne Manor has been destroyed more times than I care to count.  No Man's Land absolutely destroyed it and sunk it into the batcave. It's difficult to imagine any of Bruce Wayne's clues surviving into the present day in tact.  Even the graveyard and mystery corpse road would have been ruined by the earthquake that hit Gotham and devestated Wayne Manor and the entire estate.  

The only explanation I can think of is Bruce's presence in the past has altered some events to create these "new" mysteries and family portraits that now adorn the walls.  It's a very minor nitpick, but when you start dealing with time travel/displacement as the premise of the story and try to introduce new additions to the home of the most neurotic and observant characters in the DC universe, it can be a bit tough to reconcile when you sit down to think about it.  Thankfully, it really is a nitpick in every sense of the word and I had no impact on my enjoyment of the issue.

Verdict - Must Read.  Really, it's like night and day between this and the previous few issues. I'm so glad I forgot to have the book removed from my pull list at the shop.  Otherwise, I would have missed out on possibly the best issue of the series so far and a return to the greatness of the opening arc of this title.  As a bonus, it's assuaged any fears about whether I'd enjoy it or hesitation in I had regarding picking up the upcoming Return of Bruce Wayne.  Highly recommended issue.


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19 comments:

btownlegend said...

You sold me on this. Mystery at the Manor!

Akylle said...

Really now, this love/hate relationship you have with Morrison can't be healthy.

Boots. said...

You really MUST read David Uzumeri's speculation/theory (although it is so much more that that) about Bruce Wayne at http://funnybookbabylon.com/2010/01/03/bruce-wayne-a-man-of-wealth-and-taste-batmannotations-gaiden/

Radlum said...

Like you, I wasn't impressed by the previous two arcs (tough it seems I liked them a bit more since I wasn't thinking of dropping the book), but this issue has made get back my faith in Grant Morrison. It's simply well-executed, great art, the interactions between Dick and Damian are some of the best so far and the whole mistery about Bruce and his heritage sounds really exciting, I can't wait to see what else does Morrison has up his sleeve.

Jank said...

I think the key for this issue was that Morrison took some time to actually walk the reader through the plot instead of expecting the reader to fill it in on their own, as he does when he employs the channel-surfing style he used in Final Crisis.

This was a fantastic issue, with some great character moments all around. Damian has grown immensely from his first appearance as a spoiled brat, and I look forward to seeing where Morrison goes from here. Like you, I was about to drop after the lackluster arcs, but I'm back on board.

Jank said...

Btw, I'd like to extend my appreciation for a cover that actually depicts something that happens in the story. Nothing peeves me more than a cover that is a false promise.

brandon said...

I loved this issue. This was great use of the three main characters and had clever clues in there. Great stuff.

Anonymous said...

Hi!!! I thought 2 things after reading the issue:
1) Oberon Sexton is Bruce Wayne.
2) The Devil's worshiper is called... Thomas Wayne!!! Maybe this is the Black Globe?!!?!?

We'll see...
saludos
Reborn

Ryan Schrodt said...

Kirk, this is a really strong argument for me to pick this up and I've been insanely jaded about this series despite the fact that I loved teh first issues. I think you might have convinced me to pick it up, though that just means I'm going to have to pick up the last issue that I skipped because I'm a completist tool.

Damn you!

Anonymous said...

Love damien's begrudging loyalty to dick. I love the concept of batman vs. Robin, finally! Andy Clarke is really making his mark, I'll buy the variant for issue #11 and I never buy variants

Anonymous said...

Amazing issue. I read it early today and loved every minute of it.

Andy Clarke really stepped up to the plate.

Kudos to all involved with this title.

Jonathan M Perez said...

Went back and re-read the Zombie Batman arc and thought it was really awesome too. It definitely plays better on a second reading. Some of the action sequences were the best stuff I'd ever seen written. Probably the best time Batwoman was used outside of Detective too. The Philip Tan arc aside, this B&R has been superlative comics.

Lucho said...

Barbathos is the Demon that the Riddler summonned in Peter Milligan´s "Dark Knight Dark City" way back in Batman# 552-554. 1991! Great story for those who haven´t read it.

Morrison is this kind of creator that takes everything other writer created and reuses it in a brand new light.

brandon said...

@Lucho - is the Milligan story 'Barbathos' or 'Barbatos'? could be meaningful difference

Lucho. said...

In Milligan story is called "Barbathos". Still, wehave to wait and see.

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