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May 22, 2017

Ye Olde School Café: All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder

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Written by: Nile Fortner
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All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Frank Miller
Artist: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Jared K. Fletcher
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Cover: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair

A Must Read For All Batman Fans

I know this comic book series/graphic novel has been out for a long time now. I remember reading it years ago, and I actually remember fans not liking this story so much. I’ve heard everything from, “They are making Batman to psychotic!”, “Why is this series so irregular with its publishing dates?”, and “Frank Miller’s weakest story.” On the other hand, with the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) taking so much inspiration from Frank Miller, I thought I would go back and re-read this story.

This story tells a re- imagining origin of Dick Grayson. At the end of their Flying Grayson circus act, young Dick Grayson witnesses the death of his parents by an assassin’s bullet. Thrust into a world of darkness, Grayson is “saved” by the mysterious Batman from a group of corrupt cops. The Batman offers him the chance to work alongside him, drafting Grayson into what Batman calls his “war” on crime.

Now I am going to get right into this. First of all, if you like your Batman to be a little more by the book and not so dark, this is not your Batman.  This book is written by one of my favorite authors, Frank Miller. For those who do not know, Frank Miller’s work is dark. Sin City, The Spirit, 300, Daredevil: Born Again, The Dark Knight Returns. This guy has a list of dark yet very entertaining and well written stories. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, has been called one of the best Batman stories ever told. It even inspired many of the plot points in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. So when it comes to our favorite caped crusader, Frank Miller knows his way around the block or two. This time he is retelling the birth of the Dynamic Duo, Batman and Robin. Giving it a darker, grittier edge shot through with cynical wit, amazing art from my favorite comic book artist Jim Lee alongside Scott Williams, and one graphic novel I am glad I’m re-reading, giving another chance, because I don’t think it is as bad as people were saying all those years ago.

“You’ve Just Been Drafted Into A War.”

As I mentioned earlier, if you like your Batman a little bit more by the book, then this book may not be in your favor. But I LOVE the character in a very dark setting, with dark characters, and dark storytelling. The Gotham City in this is a bad city. Crooked cops look to kill Grayson after his parents are murdered and let their killer go free; crude men prowl the streets and bars, looking for women to rape; even the best cop in town, Jim Gordon openly talks to his mistress on the phone while his wife lurches into the kitchen to refill her glass with booze. Even Batman uses profanity, says things that are not politically correct, and he is more violent than we are accustomed to. The story is not dark just to be dark. It has this tone because naturally, Batman is a dark character, and it is used to improve the story, have something different, and makes for amazing storytelling.

Fans expecting to read a typical Batman comic are in for a shock. Miller’s Batman is not your typical Batman. In fact, he is a kid slapping, bad guy beating, sociopath. His rough and tough exterior, eerily reminiscent of Miller’s Batman from The Dark Knight Returns, is sure to cause quite a shock to those familiar with Batman. We also get a few other surprise characters in this graphic novel. Such as, The Black Canary, Batgirl, Superman, and The Joker.

The art is rendered in masterly style by Jim Lee’s pencils, along with his long-standing collaborator on inks, Scott Williams. It is brighter and glossier than what Miller would have drawn himself, with dynamic full-page panels bringing big-screen experience, interspersed with closely-knit panel groups, taking us through frame-by-frame expressions.

This may not be Frank Miller’s best story or even his best writing style. Some of the characters tend to repeat themselves, and it sounds more like the dialogue you would read or hear in Sin City. However, it is still worth reading.

I know this may not be the popular thing to say about this story. However, I absolutely f*cking loved this graphic novel! Seriously, it is now one of my favorite graphic novels to re-read. It has good dialogue, a new twist and re-imagining of something we have seen, it takes what is old and makes it feel new again, has a fun story, and I got a kick out of it.  The art by Jim Lee always delivers. There is not one single artist who can draw beautiful women, vibrant colors, and dynamic action sequences, like Lee. If there is one thing that all Batman fans can agree on, it is that Lee’s rendition of Batman is tops. I believe this graphic novel earns a…

 10 out of 10!

So those are my overall thoughts on Frank Miller’s All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder. So if you’ve read this story, what do you think about it? Also, in your opinion, what would you consider to be an underrated Frank Miller story, and why? I’m interested in what you have to say. So I’m gonna close the book on this for now. Until next time, thank you all for reading and or viewing, and I hope you all have an amazing day and night as always. 🙂

For more Ye Olde School Café click here!

Nile Fortner
nilefortner@gmail.com

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