RandoMonday: All Star Batman and Robin #9

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder #9 by Frank Miller (writer), Jim Lee (penciller), Scott Williams (inker), Alex Sinclair (colorist), Jared K. Fletcher (letterer), Brandon Montclare (asst. editor), Bob Schreck (editor), and Lee, Williams, and Sinclair (cover)

Man, this series was either loved or despised. I thought it was an over-the-top, fantastical romp, a parody of the Batman mythos, sort of like the Batman ’66 tv series for the modern, angry age, not to be taken seriously, and I enjoyed the Lee/Williams/Sinclair art. This issue, the penultimate it turns out (or was it?), details the argument between level-headed Hal Jordan (in a switch to how the character has been portrayed since the New 52 began) and the antagonistic, borderline sadistic, Batman, with some punk-ass comments from the new Boy Wonder. Ultimately, a fight ensues between Robin and Hal because Robin has lifted Hal’s ring. Batman watches in awe of Robin’s abilities, including his quickness in mind and body, and then reacts–badly–when Robin goes too far and nearly kills Hal with a jab to the throat. Batman realizes that Robin hasn’t gone beyond the Anger part of grieving, and he takes Robin to his parents’ graves. The issue ends with a crying Dick Grayson in Batman’s arms.

I didn’t mind the fun that Batman and Robin were having at Hal’s expense, including painting the entire room they were in yellow–they even painted themselves yellow!–and serving lemonade, just to twist the knife a little bit more. I liked how Batman admired Dick for his innate skills, but Miller went too far when he had Dick crush Hal’s throat. Then, to make matters worse, Batman punches the twelve-year-old after throwing him into a wall. We all gloss over the child abuse factor of Batman having an underage sidekick, but this blatant abuse was disturbing, and I don’t get the sense that Miller was making commentary, just being crass. Given the events of Dark Knight II and this series, it almost seems as if Miller hates Dick Grayson and enjoys punishing the guy whenever possible, the scenes where Batman calls Dick a genius and hugs him notwithstanding.

I want to end on some praise, however. Sinclair’s coloring here is deceptively simple, given the limited color palette. Sixteen pages are mostly yellow (aside from Hal’s presence), but it’s not just brush on one hue of the color and that’s it–there’s some depth and range brought to the pages that maybe were more difficult to complete than if this was colored more traditionally (I think?). Lee also has some fun with background action. There’s one panel in particular where Hal decks Batman, causing the Dark Knight to drop his glass of lemonade. In the background, Robin catches the glass. In the next panel, there’s a close-up of Hal hitting Batman in the jaw, while Robin pours another glass that he offers Batman on the next page. See, that was fun comics.

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