Writer: Frank Miller
Artist: Jim Lee
Publisher: DC Comics
Deep down, I knew this issue had to be coming all these years. Comic geeks around the world loved to make fun of this book to the point where it’s gotten old. They began with a few “GD Batman” jokes here and there, and then it kind of got out of hand. We’re read them all haven’t we, even on this own website:
“Miller’s actually parodying what DC has done to the Batman character since Miller himself put out the original Dark Knight Returns.”
“All-Star BRBW has much to love, and much to piss off fans who take Batman seriously.”
“Surely Miller must know that this isn’t how Batman acts, so what’s the reasoning behind it?”
I’ll even add my own criticism. It did seem that Miller viewed the world he had created himself through such rose colored glasses that he could write whatever he wanted about this character and it would be a top 10 seller. I think Kelvin Green said it best when he thought the book would have been a much bigger success with Miller drawing his own work. Regardless of what you think of the book, however, this book is an undeniable success and I feel completely rewarded for not giving up on the book after the delays and sniping ruined a lot of the momentum generated from the first couple of issues.
Two story lines get sort of a bow put on them in this issue, and God bless Frank for doing it finally. The first half of the issue is what should have been the second arc of this title after the second half’s arc ended. Black Canary, a seemingly sweet-talking Irish lass is saved by Batman from apparent death, who then takes her as a trophy and mounts her on the ground, in the rain. Yes, you read that right.
What stood out first is the rhetoric that Miller uses during the exchange. How could someone be so tactical, yet so immature at the same time? Inner monologue such as this gives credence to the thought that only the truly insane would dress up in tights and fight crime. There were parts that were hysterical and spine-tingling at the same time. “We keep our masks on. It’s better that way.” Hey, deep down who wouldn’t want the convenience of anonymous sex between heroes. “And here I am with all this thermite. It’d be a damn shame to let it go to waste.” It's very boyish, but then again he’s still the eight-year old who watched his parents die. With all the money in the world to make weapons, he should be a little giddy to use them from time to time. The greatest though was the ender to the first half when in the car he says, “And she’s dead right to say I’m half-crazy. But only half. The other half is doing just fine.” It’s just the kind of thing someone at work would say in the elevator and you’d laugh to yourself while thinking, “I’m scared to death right now.”
Upon further review, this banter that Bats uses with the person in his head has revealed a darker, twisted freak of a man. He’s a man that takes himself very seriously, as well as his work, but enjoys every minute of it. He’s not a man you trifle with, regardless of how his All-Star peers view him. Finally, it’s plain as day that any woman within 500 yards of the GD Batman would scratch and claw her way into his field of view. He’s what every man in his own mind would like to see himself as.
The second part of this issue shows just what a manipulative prick Bruce is as well. Seven issues in, and the whole time he was conditioning young Richard Grayson into being the soldier he initially wanted back in issue #1. Alone, tired, hungry and scared, Dick has been awaiting his kidnapper to show himself, hopefully with a hot meal and a hug. Instead, he tosses the killer of the boy’s parents at his feet and asks him what kind of person he wants to be.
Note, he didn’t ask a boy who’s not even in high school what he wanted to be when he grew up, He asked him point blank, “are you an avenger or a detective?” We know what kind of person Dick becomes, but at this point in his life, with the look on his face at the time, I might have guessed avenger. Young Robin was plenty pissed off to see the murderer of his folks, and probably furious that Batman did all this to him just to test his character. Bruce probably would have laughed at Grayson offing Jocko-boy, and then sent him on his way. Instead, our man is treated to something that probably excited him in a way I can’t even mention on this website. The boy chooses not to kill, instead to beat the ever-living-snot out of Vanzetti and find out who ordered the hit.
The answer will set up one hell of a last issue for this opening arc. Sure we’ve seen Miller’s and Lee’s Joker before, but something tells me this might be something different. The same certainly can be said of this Batman.
Speaking of our artist let me add that Lee is subtly giving us some great pieces of art to go along with Miller’s musings. Sure it doesn’t seem to fit the gritty nature of the scenes the writer is trying to paint, but I think it’s good for the two creators to be working together. Their styles almost clash, giving us a perfect amalgam of form and function. The cover was drawn perfectly, and the colors are even better.
Let it be known that I’m tired of all the “GDs” used in the book. I’m not much of a foul language fan anymore, but when Bruce uses the word twice in one sentence, you know Frank is mocking people like me. I’m not going to let it take away from what a great issue this is, but if ASBAR goes off in a new direction with the creative team after #8, I will be more than happy to see the word leave with the writer. There, I’m off my soapbox.
I’m impressed by this book, as we all should be. Many things got in the way of this book being the well woven piece of fiction that is, and that’s a crying shame. Nevertheless, I will hold my copies of this title near and dear because when we finally got out of the team’s way and stopped bitching about the delays, we were treated to a fantastic exercise in the psychosis of a man in a cowl. One who likes making out with female smokers.
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