on 1 November 2010
I'd read poor critical reviews of this book, but decided to buy it out of curiousity and on the basis of some of the artwork I'd seen. The artwork is outstanding throughout and what pushes it up fom 3 to 4 stars for me. Jim Lee is a genius. The story is quite enjoyable when read as an elseworlds tale. Miller's Batman, the same as in The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again, is cruel to Robin, and to criminals. Unecessary force is employed against the criminals and police force of Gotham City without remorse. Robin is kidnapped and subjected to torture in an effort to give him a quick course in everything Bruce Wayne taught himself to become Batman. This Batman is somewhat an anti-hero. Batman's crusade is not noble, it is self-destroying, it is almost unrestrained revenge. It reminds me of the tv series Dexter, in which a serial killer wanting to do good decides to direct his need to kill towards those who deserve it. (Though Miller's Batman does not kill in this book, he and Robin both admit to enjoying the act of putting thugs in Hospital.) Some of the dialogue is rather awkward. The first time Batman refers to himself as "the goddamn Batman" it's quite amusing, but by the tenth time he is referred to in this way by a range of characters it seems very bizarre.
Overall it's quite an enjoyable story if you don't mind reading about a Batman who differs greatly from the popular hero, if you don't mind excessive violence in your comics,if you enjoyed The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again, and if you're a fan of Jim Lee and want to see some of the best artwork in comics today. I'm happy to say i did really enjoy this story. I don't agree with the criticism that Miller's Batman is a joke and a betrayal of all the work put in to the character over the last 80 years. If you can read it as an interesting elseworlds tale on how the relationship could have been but for a few differences it does ring true and is a good read most of the time...
on 7 September 2015
Man, where to start with this? Well, it is no surprise that this is such a notorious comic. At best it is ridiculous and at worst it is a meandering mess of immaturity. However for me it was impossible not to enjoy the spectacle of it all. Batman is a psychopath who plays more like the Joker put on the suit than Bruce Wayne. It shows pretty open contempt towards Superheroes in general and there are so many dead ends in the story that you have to wonder what the point of it all was exactly.
So they are the negatives. The positives are that it looks stunning. There were huge delays when the comic was originally published which Jim Lee put down to being distracted with the DC Universe game (according to Wiki, I dunno) but there is so much detail in every panel that it is no wonder it took so long. It is worth picking up just to look at the pictures.
However I did enjoy the story. There is a lot in here without Batman and I think it could have been better served if they had gone with a stories from Gotham type deal instead and focussed a bit more on Black Canary and Batgirl because their differences were a bit less jarring than the psychotic, child abusing Batman. Saying that the story does have a surprisingly touching ending given how messed up Batman is and I would highly recommend giving the comic a read. Whether it be out of morbid curiosity or because you are genuinely interesting. I think there is a bit here for everyone to enjoy or marvel at.
on 7 April 2016
Infamous amongst comic fans; this Batman book portrays Bruce Wayne as a sociopath with no moral compass at all who doesn't mind killing the scum of Gotham City in the name of avenging his parents deaths. This massive departure from the paragon of justice Batman is typically depicted as has made this a very unpopular book.
But I quite liked it.
Batman isn't a hero here, he's an extremely troubled man and the fact that he's the best option in Gotham goes to show just how awful a place it really is. He blames the entire city for the deaths of his parents and lashes out at it every night.
And not for nothing, the severity of the pain he inflicts on the muggers and thugs of Gotham is just brilliant to observe in a cathartic sort of way.
on 23 May 2014
So reading both sides of reviews, and debating whether to buy this, i finally decided to do so.
I didn't have high or low expectations, even having read a few good ones such as Long Halloween and Hush.
So the artwork is brilliant, Jim Lee is faultless as always and the characters are full of depth.
The writing however, I find quite strange. Now I have not read The Dark Knight Returns, but I have found people favored that one more over this. But again, I can't compare the two yet. What I can say is what I am unsure of in this book.
Batman said retarded. I know it is a scientific term however in context of what Batman used it for, it seemed completely out of character.
Throughout the story, other characters suggest Batman is losing the plot, but becoming an "adrenaline junky teenager" and a "show off" isn't really what I was expecting.. Batman says "cool" a lot when describing, again it just doesn't feel right. I felt that in this book Batman has become so self obsessed (more than usual) and just downright ignorant. He is not likable, perhaps being the intention Frank wanted.
Robin I found to be okay *spoiler ahead* ... after his parents were murdered, the repetitive script representing his thoughts I found was really good. The Joker here, I feel was pretty realistic. Sadistic as always touching on a subject such as sex, possible rape, is rarely put together with the Joker. Again, the dark side of Batman stories. I can't really comment on characters such as Wonderwoman and Superman as I don't read that side of DC at all.
I found this graphic novel better than RIP Batman but much much worse than Year One, however I wasn't THAT excited to turn the pages to see what happens next, I was more interested in the art I have to say, which in terms of comics, is a good thing, but without good writing, there is no story.
I might change my mind about this book after a few reads but right now, I am very unsure. I guess experimenting with Batman's character and personality is interesting, but I guess I'm not used to this one.
I'd say buy it and read it, might be up your street, might not be.
I highly recommend Arkham Asylum: A serious house on serious earth. I personally love the artwork, and the writing is fantastic.
If you're looking for a page turner, definitely Long Halloween > Dark Victory, Hush, (New 52 Catwoman is also good, however Batman isn't the main protagonist obviously)
Have fun dudes and dudettes.
on 11 August 2009
Whilst this graphic novel has been criticised greatly, i fail to understand why. Yes, it does reimagine the Dark Knight into a slightly psychotic, cruel sadist, but that is what makes this book a must read. Its definitely not only Batman who is portrayed in a darker light, All characters in the book are slightly more cynical and twisted than their offiial DC counterparts, and it gives the impression that Gotham city itself is a corrupting force, not just the criminals living there.
Batman himself is portrayed, in my opinion, perfectly. He is dark and slightly crazy, more willing to break bones and hurt criminals just for fun. This i think is a better portrayal of the Dark Knight, as for all his training, all his money, he is still really a little boy with a temper, and shows no problem with it.
The story itself features a grimmer retelling of Batman training Robin, and the other, more acceptable superheroes (Green lantern and superman), trying to stop him destroying the peoples opinions of superheroes. This Sub-plt in particular is really interesting, because it deals more with the differences between true superheroes with powers, and Batman, who while pysically inferior to the powers of Superman and Green lantern, believes himself superior, and much of the book focuses on his disdain and dislike for the heroes, who he labels 'Idiots' and 'Morons' repeatedly.
the other standout feature in the book is the amazing artwork by Jim Lee, who captures the characters and Gotham perfectly, the pullout 5-page Batcave spread in itself is outstanding.
Overall, if you prefer the Batman from the mainstream comics, then you may not like this book, but if you want a little more darkness and a thinner line between criminal and crime fighter, then buy this book now.
Definitely one of the best Batman novels of the last few years, and at a great price too!
on 17 June 2011
In my years of reading comic books, I've never seen a comic create such a divide amongst fans. It comes as no real surprise that the subject is Batman and again, it's no real surprise that Frank Miller is at the centre of the furore.
DC's All Star Batman & Robin is the meeting of comic greats Frank Miller and Jim Lee. When it was first announced, the expectation was exceedingly high. No-one can say that in the realms of comics/graphic novels, these guys aren't legends. So there's no way that with these two guys at the helm, this project can fail.
But did it? Well if you judge it on the terms of the backlash against this book, you would think it was one of the greatest failures in comic book history. As well as most disappointing. How can a book that promised so much fail so miserably?
When I first purchased the book, I had heard and seen many a bad review. But if anything, that made me more determined to see it. Was it morbid curiosity or as the editor's notes pleaded was it my faith (due to Miller's previous body of work)that the end would justify the means? Somehow they would pull it out of the bag?
I have read through this book several times. And my opinion changes everytime I read it. Sometimes, I can't help but shake my head and laugh. Othertimes, I find myself enjoying it and slowly the pieces fall into place.
There's so many things on the button with this book. But at the same time, there's plenty of things wrong. And sometimes, they're both the same thing.
Story - This has been called in some quarters as Miller's sequel to "Batman: Year One" Telling the story of Batman's "Year Two" and introducing Dick Grayson/Robin into Miller's take of the life of the Dark Knight. It falls into the same universe as the aforementioned "Year One" and the "later" stories of "The Dark Knight Returns" and "The Dark Knight Strikes Back". The book also (re)introduces other major characters such as the Joker, Catwoman, Bat-Girl, and the Justice League. For me, it felt a sudden shift from "Batman: Year One" While the portrayal in that story was gritty and felt grounded, this "sequel" goes for the more fantastical approach. It's loud, in your face, sometimes OTT and pretty much non stop. It's seems Miller has regressed to childhood and tried to cram in as much as possible. And while you can't fault his obvious exuberance for the character that he obviously cares for, you get the feeling he should have popped a few Ritalin and taken a more clinical, detached approach. Because underneath the dialogue (talked about below) and the fact that there's too much crammed in causing it to feel forced, there's a hell of a story here. For me, it's about Robin's contribution to Batman and how Batman became to be the Batman that we know. This isn't a story about the World's Greatest Detective. At this point, he doesn't even exist. This Batman is fresh on his mission. Unhinged, bitter, cocky, arrogant, almost sociopathic, possibly even suicidal. This isn't the cold, calculating, purposeful and thoughtful Caped Crusader. To this Batman, the end always justifies the means. And no means are off limits. There's no regards for anyone or anything other than the mission. This is Death Wish Batman. This is the insanity that Batman, in all depictions, does possess. Just cranked up to 11. (Considering in the story, Batman claims to have been watching Dick Grayson for awhile in the aim of being drafted into "The War", you almost wonder what lengths he would have gone to to convice Grayson to sign up. Fortunately/Unfortunately, we will never know as the deaths of Grayson's family forced Batman's hand.) And as well as being the origin story of Robin, it's also the tale of the humanising of the Bat, which through his relationship with Robin he eventually achieves. Batman and Robin break each other down so they are allowed to be put back together as icons and as people. This story should end with a lighter in tone, more stable and human Batman joining the Justice League as an equal. That's where it seems to be heading. The transition of Batman from publically derided, feared vigilante to universally loved Super Hero. Unfortunately, with the backlash and constant delays, and seeming cancellation, this tale will never be allowed to reach that ending.
Dialogue - If anything, this has attracted the most criticism. And to be honest, rightly so. I'm guessing with the constant delays this title experienced in it's original run, the dialogue was hastily written in between other pursuits of Frank Miller. Treated more as an after-thought than a chance to cement his legacy and his take on Batman. It doesn't flow anywhere near as well as his previous work, Batman or otherwise (even the also critically dividing "The Dark Knight Strikes Back" has better, more rounded and more thought out dialogue than this - but not by much). It just seems lazy and has a tendancy to repeat itself. And in some parts unnecessarily so. There are some moments where it works but then the next line will undo any good. Though I must admit, I was totally into "I'm the goddamn Batman!" The first time anyway. It lessens it's impact when it's repeated again. And again. And again by Batman himself or other characters. And who calls anyone a "Little snot!"?
Art - Jim Lee easily ranks as one of the greatest comic artists of all time and his artwork here does not disappoint. BUT I feel that it doesn't fit in with Miller's pulp like vision of Batman. It is absolutely gorgeous but sits awkwardly in between the more "rough and ready" "Year One" and "The Dark Knight Returns" But in fairness, those two had a story with a lot of substance. This is more "Wham Bam Thank you, ma'am!" so more focus is on the art. I just feel as amazing as Lee's art work is, it sometimes detracts from the story. Lee has never been one to do things in a simple manner. It's one of his greatest assets but sometimes it's also his downfall. This book shows the best and worst of Lee's work I feel.
Thoughts - This will go down as a misfire. I wouldn't say it's a failure. There's so much potential here and it's a damn shame because we could have easily had a story that could have proudly sat alongside the best Batman stories ever told. I think if they had went in with a properly structured plan, more time spent on the script, cut the fat (Vicky Vale, Black Canary, Joker - at this early point etc) expanded more on the copycat theme touched upon with Bat Girl and the attitude of the Justice League towards Batman at this point etc plus with a stronger editor who would have taken a big, red marker to Miller's script, this could have worked. And worked well. This book doesn't make Frank Miller a bad writer. He was either lazy here or just couldn't devote enough of himself to the project or the deadlines. But while Grant Morrison thinks outside the box, Miller has always got to the nitty gritty of Batman. Frank Miller always seems to do his best work when he either has a point to prove or someone more strong willed than him to rein him in. I hope this isn't Miller's last foray into telling the Dark Knight's story, because with his next one he will most definitely have a point to prove.
In our current world of rehashes and reboots etc, I think this story is deserving of a reboot because underneath all it's faults (of which there are many) there's a hell of a tale to be told.
on 23 January 2015
This is a uniquely different take on the Batman and Robin team up. Many fans seem to dislike this storyline. But I thought it was a brilliant fresh new take on Batman and his world. Granted I wouldn't have liked it if this became canon. Witness Batman in a more realistic light. A psychologically scarred man, who laughs as he cripples criminals and abuses his unwanted new side kick.
We also get a nice appearance from a slightly visually reimagined Joker, which I love the look of! I personally wish a second volume had been written (though I read one may be in the works).
This is definitely worth a read if you can approach it with an open mind.
I am close to 80 years old and have loved Batman since being a little lad in a siren suit cowering under the strengthened staircase of my parents home in wartime Liverpool. I still remember the German bombs whistling down. Batma et al were a beacon to us kids at that time. The Us comic books used to come to us via the docks - the baddies never won and largely they still lose out!,
on 17 February 2016
This is without a doubt the single worst comic book I have ever read, after most of a decade of churning out nothing but crap, Frank Miller tops it with this... a grim, nonsensical, and awfully written origin for Robin. The dialogue is awful, so awful that it feels like it's been written by a pissed off teenager, Miller has not only disgraced himself as a Batman writer, he's disgraced himself as a writer non stop, after this misguided atrocity, I refuse to touch another Frank Miller property released after the 90's. if you're a Batman fan on any level do yourself a favour and never read this, it'll leave you disappointed, angry, and'll put you off any of the writers other work.
It also destroys the All Star label, after All Star Superman an All Star Wonder Woman, Bat Girl and others were planned but thank to the critical ramming this received, the label was scrapped. Thanks Frank Miller.
on 21 March 2015
Lets get this out the way, the art is spectacular. Everything else is a beautiful disaster, the plot has no direction, Batman and pretty much everyone else in this comic is just a terrible person. This is a hateful comic that pushes awful ideas about how justice works, and it sends strong, empowering heroines back 60 years over how misogynistic this comic is. To give you an idea of what a cruel little comic this is, Batman essentially kidnaps Dick straight after his parents are shot to death, tells him he is being drafted into his war on crime. He then leaves him in a cave for about a week, with his only source of food being rats and bats. When Alfred attempts to bring him food, Batman throws him against a wall, questioning why he stopped a child from nearly starving to death.
This is a milestone, showing just how done hill Frank Miller has become as a writer. This was the comic that spawned the infamous "god damn Batman" line, it has outright stupid moments like that and moments so offensive that it will make you produce laughter from shock and disbelief. This comic is not everyones cup of tea, some people will hate it with a burning passion, others hold it up as a magnificent failure.