All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder Issues 1-3 (2005)
Writer: Frank Miller, Penciller: Jim Lee, Inker: Scott Williamson, Colourist: Alex Sinclair, Letterist: Jared K. Fletcher. Published by DC Comics in 2005.
I know what you might be thinking... didn't this guy do a poll asking us what we wanted him to review? A poll without this on it? Who does that anyway, makes a poll as if we even care, then doesn't post in a week, and then posts this? Actually, you might not be thinking that at all, especially if you're reading this through an index or something. But I want to say that I haven't ignored the poll. I've just been very busy with school and don't really have the time to post anything, but have to get this review out of my head.
I picked these issues up today while at the comic book shop to pick up the two newest issues of Y the Last Man. I had heard something about a Frank Miller and Jim Lee Batman project on the special features of the Batman Begins DVD, so when I saw this on the shelf, I figured, why not? They had the first three issues in stock (along with a sketched-only special edition of issue one), so I flipped through the first issue and decided to give them a shot. I thought about just getting the first issue to test whether or not I'd like the whole series, but then decided to get all three, since I don't find myself in comic book stores that often. What if they were sold out when I came back, or what if I loved it so much I wouldn't want to wait for the second issue?
Of course, my enthusiasm overshadowed the more important question: what if issue one sucks so hard that you wished you had never read it, much less felt compelled to read on simply because you spent money on two more issues? Damn enthusiasm! But this was Frank Miller doing Batman! With Jim Lee, a favourite artist from my X-Men-filled youth! How could it not rule? Well, okay, sure, there was that DK2 debacle. But, I figured Miller had gotten that out of his system. Plus, Lee's Hush was pretty good...
Stupid, stupid, stupid impulse buys. Cause this? SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKED. How much did it suck? It sucked so much that it shames the legacy of The Dark Knight Strikes Again, which was putrid. Honestly, I think Joel Schumacher may have had a better handle on the character than Miller does in this series, which is about the worst thing I think I could ever say about anyone, ever.
For those that don't know, All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder is the first title in DC's new All Star line (All Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely has since followed), which is designed to allow superstar creators to tell out of continuity stories. It's a monthly series that is supposed to allow Miller and Lee to share their vision of Batman without having to deal with all the continuity issues that DC is always attempting to fix. It's their answer to Marvel's Ultimates line, I suppose, only with more suck.
After this and DK2, I can only wonder if Frank Miller hates Batman, a character he helped make great with the legendary Dark Knight Returns and Year One stories. Either that, or the guy just can't hack it anymore as a writer, and should stick to co-directing "adaptations" of his earlier work. Cause this treatment of Batman is, frankly, insulting to the character, reading like a combination of his later Sin City runs and every crappy 1980s "dark" hero. The dialogue is so laughably bad (see the lj-cut text and alt comment), George Lucas could read it and snicker. The plotting is stupid. The art, while flashy in a soft-core porn type way (we are treated to not only a four page sequence where Vicki Vale hangs around her open-windowed apartment in nothing but a bra, panties, and high heels, but also a treatment of Black Canary whose cup-size defies the laws of physics and anatomy), is otherwise uninspired. I've come to realise that Lee is overrated as an artist, a product of the 1990s style of pin-up art that lacks some of the fundamentals necessary in telling a story with sequential art.
But as bad as the dialogue, plotting, and art is... and they're bad, really bad... the worst element of the book, the element that made me hate it after I was done reading issue one, and hate it more after the next two issues, are the characterisations. Miller's new Batman is a nihilistic asshole, who not only fails to meet the standards of heroism, he's a shockingly piss-poor human being. Some fans have taken to calling this Batman "BatMarv", as it is obvious that Miller is trying to do the noirish anti-hero thing to Batman that he's been doing in Sin City since 1991. Which is funny, but not exactly fair... to Marv. Who is a lot more sympathetic and cuddly than this Batman. This Batman is such a jerk that... well... remember how in The Dark Knight Returns where one of the most satisfying moments in the series was when Batman beats Superman? Well, in this series, I'm hoping that Superman comes to Gotham (as teased at the end of the third issue) and kicks every square inch of Batman's ass. In fact, one of the few good moments of these three issues is when a 12-year-old Dick Grayson asks Batman "So what do you call this thing, anyway?", and Batman responds "The Batmobile", to which the kid responds "That is totally queer". Take that asshole Batman!
Anyway, I had to get that off my chest. To release my anger over this series in a more constructive way than leaving nasty comments on other people's reviews. Not that that wasn't constructive in other ways. But this will have the potential of saving other people from making a similarly foolish impulse buy, or at least I hope it will. Stay away from this series, you'll be a happier person that way.
Batman - "Year Two - Fear the Reaper"
Sin City - "Booze, Broads, & Bullets"