All Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder Vol. 1
All Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder Vol. 1
Frank Miller's Goddamn Batman
Luminary creators Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns)
and Jim Lee (Batman: Hush
) join forces to retell the origin of Dick Grayson, the original Robin in All Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder
, which is the first series to be launched under DC's All Star
titles are self-contained story arcs existing outside of official DC
Comics continuity. The idea is that writers and artists can retell the
history of prominent DC Universe characters without being restricted by
the continuity of past canonical stories.
Not only does it allow
creators a chance to reboot titles, but also appeals to readers who may
feel intimidated by the sheer amounts of history already established
for each character.
Just because this is a retelling of Robin's origin doesn't mean it can't have some history. Frank Miller (Sin City, 300)
has stated that All Star Batman & Robin
exists in the same continuity as the other storylines in his Dark Knight
universe and is actually a prequel to The Dark Knight Returns
book has, well, just about everything. It combines the gritty, noir
feel of Miller's writing with the gorgeous, colorful art of Jim Lee
into a memorable book that feels as if it could be the definitive
origin of Robin, though I still love the Dark Victory
tale very much.
At the start of All Star Batman & Robin
Vicki Vale is getting ready for a night out on the town with Bruce
Wayne. The two decide to attend a traveling circus in Gotham where they
see "The Flying Graysons," an acrobat family consisting of
twelve-year-old Dick Grayson and his parents.
As always, young
Dick is an acrobatic daredevil. Vicki Vale gasps as he spins and twirls
through the air. In-between the "Oh My God" exclamations, Vicki chokes
out, "This kid's amazing!" to which Bruce replies, "Yeah, I've had my eye on him for a while. He's something alright."
while this is a new take on Robin's origin, his initial birth is still
very much the same. Grayson's parents are shot and killed by a hit man,
leaving the 12-year-old orphaned and alone. G.C.P.D officers escort him
from the scene in a threatening manner. It's pretty obvious that these
guys are the bad cops - the sleazy, dirty rats that typically infest
Bruce disappears in typical fashion while
Vicki and Alfred Pennyworth chase after the cops who just abducted
Grayson. Batman hunts down the killer and then rescues Dick Grayson
from the corrupt cops. "You've just been drafted into a war."
Batman is more than just dark and disturbed - he comes off as slightly
psychopathic at times. The Batman hurls himself off rooftops onto
unsuspecting criminals, laughing all the way down like a madman. He is
also a bit of a sadist, reflecting on all the injuries he's handed out
to Gotham's scum - the bones he's broken - the pain he has inflicted.
gritty dialogue provides perhaps the book's single most infamous moment
when our caped crusader introduces himself to Grayson as "the Goddamn Batman."
The phrase has gone on to become a mainstay in the series, with the
phrase showing up in every issue. It's almost like those guys
responsible for "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!" whispered into Frank's ear
and compelled him to give Batman more colorful language.
abuse extends even towards innocents as he verbally and physically
abuses Dick Grayson in an attempt to prevent him from grieving over his
parent's deaths. While rescuing the Boy Wonder, Batman appears to kill
a group of corrupt police officers by landing the Batmobile on top of a
pursuing squad car. In a scene very similar to the experiment Evey
undergoes in V For Vendetta
, Batman withholds food from Grayson and suggests that the boy catch rats and eat them if he is hungry.
while volume one of this All Star series focuses primarily on the
relationship between Batman and Robin, there are plenty of other
characters that Jim Lee illustrates beautifully. Black Canary, Batgirl
and the Joker all have their roles to play - and another story thread
shows us the disgust and contempt shared between the Justice League and
Batman. Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern and Plastic Man occupy
many of Lee's frames, and they've never looked better.
of the best moments involves a confrontation between Batman and Robin
and the Green Lantern. Our dynamic duo has led the Green Lantern to a
safe house that is painted completely yellow - Batman points out that
this weakness of Lantern's is absolutely preposterous. It's fun to see
Batman make fun, and even ridicule, DC's other big names. Miller really
plays up the animosity between the JLA and Batman, which he see later
on down the line with Superman's inclusion in The Dark Knight Returns
Speaking of The Dark Knight Returns
as you might recall, Dick Grayson is noticeably absent, to which Bruce
Wayne simply says that they are not on speaking terms. He does,
however, reminisce about Dick when confronting the Mutants in his
tank-like Batmobile, and before meeting Carrie Kelley who has taken up
the Robin mantle of her own free will.
In The Dark Knight Strikes Again
Batman reveals that he sacked Grayson "For incompetence. For
cowardice", and as Batman has just barely stopped Grayson from
murdering Carrie, he also shows Grayson little in the way of sympathy,
understanding or affection, and manages to kill his former partner then
After seeing their relationship in All Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder
it's easy to imagine how Dick Grayson could come to resent, even hate
Batman. I would highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a new
fix of Frank Miller's Batman, and while not as masterful as The Dark Knight Returns
or Batman: Year One
, this is a worthy addition to your collection.