All Star Batman & Robin: Volume 1

This cracking stuff makes up ninety percent of the comic's dialogue

Creators: Written by Frank Miller and illustrated by Jim Lee

Volume one of Allstar Batman & Robin collects three years’ worth of material from the run of the same name. Written and illustrated by comic book superstars Frank Miller and Jim Lee, the story shows how Batman met his infamous sidekick. We see the formation of the dynamic duo, and watch as they battle the might of an angry Justice League and the ever-growing threat of Gotham City’s criminal underworld. Sounds like your average Bat territory, right?

Wrong. The issues collected may have taken three years to write and illustrate, but it rarely feels worth the wait. Jim Lee’s artwork is astounding, but Frank Miller seems to have gone well and truly off the rails. To put it bluntly, he’s taken the gritty film noir of Sin City and mixed it with the camp fun of Adam West era Batman. And it doesn’t work at all. All-Star Batman & Robin is worth reading for morbid curiosity and comic effect alone. Many fans will be horrified at what Miller’s done here, whilst others will be offended by the lack of effort he appears to be putting into his script.

The first two issues (Volume 1 comprises the first nine of the ongoing run) are relatively sober, and concentrate mostly on a young Dick Grayson. The art is pretty but self-indulgent, whilst the script is of the standard Frank Miller variety (lots of repetition and faux-swearing) without ever even approaching the same level of quality of Dark Knight Returns or Year One. It’s bearable, though, and the characters are all fairly recognizable. And then Batman appears.

Yes, the biggest problem with All-Star Batman & Robin is Batman himself. As soon as the dialogue between Batman and Dick begins, the reader realizes that something is seriously amiss. This Batman has an affinity for the word “retard” and refers to himself as the “goddamn Batman” (several times). Watch, as he slaps a child in the face. Behold as he obliterates a squad of police officers. By the time they’ve reached the Batcave, you’ll either be ready to quit… or you’ll be completely, utterly, hopelessly addicted.

Reading All-Star Batman & Robin, you'll realize that this stuff is so bad that it is, at times, quite brilliant. Make no mistake; no writer has ever portrayed Batman in this way before. He’s a murderer and a psychopath the; he runs across rainy streets, laughing like a lunatic and spouting faux-tough guy dialogue. He also sleeps with both Catwoman and the Black Canary. Fully clothed. In a public place.

Other DC characters are equally degraded through Miller’s character assassination. He seems to harbor a pathological hatred for both Superman and The Green Lantern. Superman hasn’t had a lot to do so far, but he’s shown to be inept at everything. Poor Lantern, meanwhile, gets a whole issue dedicated to his torture and humiliation. I won’t spoil anything, but fans of the Hal Jordan incarnation of the character will not be best pleased.

Aside from the characterization, everything else is off too. The dialogue is awkward, clich├ęd and often incoherent.

So, then, All-Star Batman & Robin can only be recommended to fans with a sense of humor. It certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you can take it in the spirit intended, there’s a lot of fun to be had.

Next up for Frank Miller is Batman VS Al-Quaida in Holy Terror Batman! After reading All-Star, nothing would surprise me.

Either 5/5 or 0/5 stars. I really can't decide

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