By: Frank Miller (Writer) & Jim Lee (Pencils) with Scott Williams (Inker) and Alex Sinclair (Colorist)
Issues Reviewed: #1-7
Publisher: DC Comics
Starring: Batman/Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson
Premise: Frank Miller (Sin City, The Dark Knight Returns) gives a new look at an old favorite with this radical retelling of the Batman mythos, picking up as Bruce Wayne stumbles into the life of Dick Grayson, the boy who will soon be Robin, The Boy Wonder.
Itâ€™s the general fan consensus, but now its time for someone to finally say it out loud. We donâ€™t know what Frank Millerâ€™s been smoking, but itâ€™s the good shit.
Miller, who wrote the highly acclaimed The Dark Knight Returns and its follow-up, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, has taken the legendary character of Batman and done a rehash that can only be justified with â€œmaybe he just wants to see if he can get away with it.â€
With a much darker tone, a lot more swearing (youâ€™re guaranteed to hear â€œGoddamn Bat-â€œsomething at any point in every issue) and a Batman whoâ€™s giddy as a school girl in his new role (why exactly is he laughing while he runs along the rooftops?), Millerâ€™s new take on the character is, to say the least, interesting.
Issue 1 sees the death of the Flying Graysons. The classic death of a circus accident turning out to be a terrible murder? Gone. Dickâ€™s parents are now brutally shot in the head from behind while taking their final bows. From there on, itâ€™s an issue full of confusion until Batman finally makes a full appearance in the last panel of the comic, leading to a stunning Batmobile sequence in issue #2.
A sequence so stunning, that Batman and Dick are in the car until the end of issue #4. Yes, 2 and a half issues in the car. In fact, the two are featured on roughly 3 pages of issue #3. The rest of the issue is devoted to the first appearance of All-Star Black Canary, who has a temper (oh, the dynamite picture we keeps seeing means sheâ€™s dynamite with a short fuseâ€¦ha-ha!) and a penchant for violently assaultingâ€¦well, anyone she sees. Issue #3 also features the first appearance of ASB&RTBWâ€™s Superman, who is different from the incarnation featured in All-Star Superman. A bizarre incarnation as wellâ€¦he seems overly angry that Dick Grayson is kidnapped, and is mad about a Batman article in the paper. Why is this, exactly? No clue. Batman doesnâ€™t reveal he knows Superman is Clark Kent until the next issue, which also features the introduction of the Batman and Alfred dynamic, in which Alfred is far more steadfastly disapproving of Bruceâ€™s decision to invite Dick Grayson into the lifestyle of Batman.
Issue #5 should be the big one, with the introduction of the seriesâ€™ version of the JLA. Wonder Woman hates all men (except Superman), Green Lantern seems to be kind of scared of her, and Plastic Man isâ€¦well, heâ€™s Plastic Man. The rest of the issue features Batman gleefully darting along rooftops, laughing and proclaiming his love for being the â€œgoddamn Batmanâ€ before violently and brutally assaulting a couple of would-be rapists before running yet again along the rooftops, this time more gleefully than before.
Over in issue #6, Batman encounters Black Canary as weâ€™re introduced to 15 year old Barbara Gordon, who dons a handmade Batgirl costume and goes on patrol. I have to admit, the redesign on the Batgirl costume is a fairly snazzy job. We also get our first look at Jim Gordon and his obliviously drunk wife.
The newest issue, #7, ends the first half of Miller and Leeâ€™s arc. With a billion â€œgoddamn Bat-â€œs and Batman and Black Canary knocking boots on a dock, whilst surrounded by unconscious bad guys, it would seem the series is only going to continue its bizarre arc. Oh, and the man behind the death of the Flying Graysons? The Joker. Why? No goddamn Bat-clue.
So, is the series all bad? Not really. Jim Leeâ€™s art still shines, as highlighted best in an issue 4 moment with Vicki Vale on Deathâ€™s doorstep. His renditions of Batman and the family, previously seen in the hit storyline Hush, are some of the finest weâ€™ve seen in ages, and his take on younger versions is simply incredible. And while they may differ greatly from the versions weâ€™re used to seeing, it is pretty cool to see DCU characters in the early stages in their career.
All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder is scheduled to ship monthly, but it is notorious for shipping way behind schedule (Issue #1 came out just after Identity Crisis over 2 years ago, and weâ€™ve just now gotten issue #7!). Whether Frank Miller has a surprise or two in store for us to make the series has yet to be seen, but thereâ€™s still quite a ways to go. And you can rest assured, its going to be one hell of a goddamn Bat-ride.
The greatest WTF moment ever has to occur in ASB&RTBW. Batman just got done savagely beating thugs who may have been involved in the death of the Graysons. Black Canary previously attempted to, but almost got her ass kicked. The resulting after battle moment? Black Canary mauls Batman with a kiss, during which he identifies that she smokes Cuban cigars, much like Selina, which ends with the two characters knocking boots. On the dock. With their mask on.