All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder
by Iann Robinson
|I learned many things in the year 2007, some good, some bad. In the realm of comic books I learned one very valuable lesson: Frank Miller doesn’t know what he’s doing… um…anymore.|
When the All Star Batman And Robin was first announced I was only semi-interested. Frank Miller has lost a lot of face with me due to the annoyingly smug and self-appreciating Dark Knight Returns 2 and the just plain boring and bad Sin City movie. Miller seems to be moving away from the freaky guy with long hair who had picked up the baton from Neal Adams and Denny O’Neil and helped to re-establish the Dark within the mythos of The Dark Knight. Now he wears a big fedora and hangs with the hip Hollywood crowd and his work has suffered for it. That being said I didn’t think he would try and ruin Batman. Seriously, that never occurred to me. I figured art by Jim Lee, story by Frank Miller, how bad could it be. Well…um, I was not prepared for what happened, I was unable to deal with what I saw on those pages when I first gazed upon this horrible tragedy that claimed to be a comic book.
All Star Batman And Robin is the re-envisioned story of Batman’s beginnings and how he came to have Robin as a partner. First up after Dick Grayson’s parents are killed Bruce Wayne doesn’t adopt or offer to take in Grayson, no no, Batman just kidnaps him. Literally throws him in the Batmobile and tells him to shut up. Does this sound ANYTHING like fucking Batman at all!? No, no it doesn’t. When Grayson asks Batman why he’s being kidnapped Batman slaps him and tells him again to shut up. Batman says over and over, in like six panels: “The boy is strong.” Batman sets fire to two cops who are trying to stop him from kidnapping a young boy. All of this is in the first ten pages.
What was Frank Miller thinking? Where in that once genius brain of his did he think this interpretation of Batman was a good idea. All Star Batman And Robin is a total and absolute mess, it has little to do with what Batman really is about. It bashes and destroys the nearly 70 year history of Batman, or just completely ignores it. This is tantamount to Frank Miller digging up the remains of Batman creator Bob Kane and pissing into the remains of his mouth. Then, after doing that Frank proudly goes “Look, I made it better.” Then he buries the poor violated Bob Kane back into the earth. THAT is what this series amounts to. This isn’t a Batman story, this is some badly written mess that brings to mind the fantasy of an overly horny picked on high school kid who thinks Eli Roth movies are cool. In one fell swoop Miller has erased all the good he did for Batman with The Dark Knight Returns and Batman Year One. All of that is just gone.
Instead what we are served up is eight issues of a comic series that just spirals deeper and deeper into the abyss of unreadable. I understand Miller’s need to re-invent but this is just badly done and in poor taste. Black Canary is a bartender in a titty bar until she snaps and beats everybody in the bar up? Wonder Woman stomps around pushing old men out of her way and saying “Out of the way sperm bank”? When the JLA meet to discuss how to deal with Batman being a kidnappers Wonder Woman says “We put his goddamn head on a stick and show everybody that the JLA polices their own.”? Wonder Woman insults and berates Superman until they start arguing and right when it seems like they are about to fight, they kiss. Meanwhile Batman runs from rooftop to rooftop comparing himself to a rain storm, having sex with his cowl on because it “Makes it better”. He’s consistently abusive to the newly ORPHANED Dick Grayson. One after the other Frank Miller just lines up these characters and shits in their mouth.
Wonder Woman acts like a sociopath? Superman acts like a whiney bitch? Batman acts like a raging abusive alcoholic? When you first read it you feel like Loki (the trickster God) is playing tricks on your eyes. There is no way somebody could do this to an icon! There’s no way DC Comics would let it slide by them and besides if there was a just and loving God, he wouldn’t let this kind of shit go down!! So you close the book, and re-open it and figure you’ll see a new story and it will all have been a bad dream. Nope, instead, there’s even more of this horrible comic to bear witness to.
Here are some other examples of Miller mouth-raping the idea of Batman: Batman keeps saying he’s “The goddamn Batman”, people keep telling him the Batmobile is a “Gay name”. The Joker, oh this is rich, the Joker has a giant dragon tattoo on his back. He also fucks women and then kills them and has his assistant dispose of the body. His assistant is a blonde Amazon with no shirt on and Swastikas over her nipples. Ohhhh Frank, you’re really pushing the envelope there! Miller’s writing is sub-par to the level of where I’m thinking it must be performance art. The only thing that makes sense is that Miller got a 13 year old boy to write this and he’s laughing at us as we try to figure out why this sucks so badly. There’s no way a grown MAN would write this tripe, unless Frank realized he was behind on his deadline and wrote the whole thing in his car on the way to DC Comics. Wait, nope, that doesn’t hold water either because it’s been something like 3 months between certain issues.
Frank Miller has stripped Batman of all of his dignity, class and honor. This isn’t the Dark Knight this is Dirty-Harry-In-A-Cowl. The worst part is that this is EXACTLY what Batman isn’t about. The whole fucking premise of Batman is that he isn’t just a vigilante; he’s a spirit of Justice. Frank Miller and his clearly insane, psychotic and out-of-control ego, have just decided: “Ah, well, uh, fuck it. I know better than all of you people and I’ll just re-write EVERYTHING and FUCK YOU I’m Frank Miller.” The worst part is that I know Frank Miller can write, I know he knows Batman or at least he did. Re-Read Batman Year One, tell me Frank Miller doesn’t have a real grasp on this character. I can only think that too much time around hacks like Rodriguez and Tarantino have drained him of his ability to write and not hide behind excessive gore, violence and masochistic humor that has no need to be there.
On the positive side the art by Jim Lee is first rate, really wonderful to look at. I’m kind of hoping they release a version with no words in the balloons so I can write my own awesome Batman story and forget that this series ever came. To be honest I almost wish that every month, instead of this title showing up at my comic shop, that I was met by a pissed off Spider Monkey. When I came inside the Spider Monkey would slap my face and throw shit at me and then run off. It would feel so much better than opening up another issue of this godforsaken series. Rumor has it that this is only a 12 issue series and mercifully it’ll all be over soon. I don’t know what to say to Frank Miller, I really don’t. I tried to make this review funny but deep down I’m really pissed. Pissed at how Frank Miller’s ego is so bloated, how his sense of entitlement is so richly developed that he thought this was ok.
Shame on you Frank, shame on you.
For more of Iann Robinson’s work visit his blog at Our Worlds At War.