A lesson in vocabulary (or just cussing)

15Aug08

First off, I want to apologize for the shoddy work I’ve been doing keeping up with the Books section of my blog (while clearly maintaining the Film section). My last book review was—holy crap—in May! (Although, as a point of interest, I’m going to start writing my review of The Crystal Skull by Manda Scott soon.)

So what have I been doing? Well, I’m a busy girl. With work for the Girls Entertainment Network and ComicNerd, along with blogging here, and then life—things are crazy. Especially with college starting back up for me at the end of the month. Because of all that, I read a LOT of comics.

Which got me thinking … why the hell don’t I review trades/graphic novels?! Jeez! I review single issues for both CN and GEN, but wouldn’t it be great if I gave something back to my blog? 🙂

So here I go. First up, I’m taking a look at All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder Volume 1 (which collects issues 1-9). This is written by Frank Miller and the art is by my absolute favorite comic book artist, Jim Lee.

Basically, All-Star B&R is a retelling (following the tradition of DC All Star books) of the Dynamic Duo: Batman and Robin. As the comic progresses, we see other familiar characters—like what is an early Justice League (with Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Plastic Man) as well as Huntress and Black Canary—come into play and form varying and intriguing relationships with the Dark Knight. The comic succeeds in that it’s fresh and interesting—and honestly, it’s hilarious.

This new series has both pros and cons. And one shortcoming is Batman’s lack of vocabulary—or just swear words. He uses goddamn a LOT. It’s not just him, though. A lot of characters use it when talking about him, but Batman clearly holds the, err, goddamn record. Believe me, it gets old really fast.

But there are pros to Batman’s asshole nature in this series. Okay, to explain, comic fans know that Frank Miller has a (sometimes annoying) reputation for writing “tough ass” stuff. Don’t get me wrong, Miller has written some fantastic pieces. This guy wrote Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, for example—the latter being the graphic novel that turned Batman back into a dark (and thus more interesting and true) character again. And just like then, this interpretation of Batman gives something back.

Some comic book explanations for things are either ridiculous or boring: for example, the issue of how Robin got his name. There’s the bird route, there’s the whole Robin Hood thing, and then there’s the worst: something like “My mom said I was always bobbin’ around the house so she called me Robin” (LOL, yeah, I’m serious). How it’s explained in All-Star B&R is refreshing—and like it or not, it’s possible because of this very “tough ass” version of Bats.

In a nutshell, Batman returns to the Batcave, having told Dick Grayson before he left to come up with a costume so he could have a secret identity. Dick explains about Robin Hood, but then things go in a new direction.

“Call me Hood. My dad was always making me watch some old movie about Robin Hood. That’s why I became an archer. So call me Hood.”

“Hood, huh?” Batman says, unimpressed. “Do you know what any thug with half a brain would do with that hood?”

He pulls the hood down over Dick’s eyes. “Lose the hood. You’re Robin.”

That’s only one of many gems in All-Star B&R. What is more, things really picked up with the last issue (#9) in the trade, which featured Batman and Robin against Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), who came to try to talk sense into Batman about his ruthless ways. This issue is golden (uh, both literally and figuratively), and the ending is heartbreaking.

Actually, because of how All-Star B&R #9 plays out, I’m hoping Frank Miller has something up his sleeve and that he’s going to give Batman some character development—and have him change into a human and sympathetic hero.

Right now, the series is very controversially received because of its unconventional portrayal of Batman; a lot of fans are turned off by it just because of that. Hell, I am, I’ll admit it. It’s tiresome. Batman’s not meant to be an insane, cold, misanthropic character—and if Frank Miller continues to present him this way without any deviations, this story is going to fall flat on its face.

At any rate, this is an excellent read. The art is fantastic (although what the hell is up with those weird alternate covers, yuck—NOT by Jim Lee, fyi), and this retelling of the Batman mythos is really enjoyable. Just remember to keep in mind that this isn’t the true Batman, and then have fun with it.

I’m excited to see where this series goes, although I have no idea when the next issue comes out. It’s been delayed for months because of Frank Miller’s busy schedule (with working on The Spirit movie adaptation and all), and Jim Lee’s not exactly a fast worker (but the results are no doubt worth it). #10 was supposed to come out sometime this month, but I don’t see it listed anywhere on the DC website.

Anyway, despite its delays and minor problems, I definitely say pick this trade up (just make sure you find it somewhere with a decent price, like on Amazon). Frank Miller has something that’s original and wields priceless potential, and I hope he takes advantage of that—because the end result could be one of the most touching, interesting, and revolutionary Batman stories out there: a classic in its own right.

“We mourn lives lost. Including our own.” – Batman

Discuss: What did you think of All Star B&R Vol. 1?

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14 Responses to “A lesson in vocabulary (or just cussing)”

  1. 1 Brian

    Good review, i’m still tossing up whether to buy it or not. I personally always loved Miller’s Nature in his dark and gritty style, thought repetitive dialogue can be anoying, i can also see it being a tradmark to some titles.
    Such as The Long Halloween, by Loeb. I trust you’ve read it, (“Carmine “The Roman” Falcone, Gotham City’s Untouchable Crime Lord” rign a bell?) but i can see how it could irrit you.
    I might pick it up, i’ve always liked Lee’s art work, but i dont’ care much for the T&A he seems to be able to fit in. I’m more of a story person over an art person, so i’ll let you know how it pans out 😉

  2. Thanks for reading!

    The Long Halloween by Loeb and Sale is a classic. 🙂 And everyone likes something different, but a great comic makes the art and story work together.

  3. 3 Brian

    I garee with that. I can tell i’m reading a great comic when the panels and words begin to blen together like film. I’d personally like to see a Chapter-per-episode series based on the Long Halloween and Dark Victory in place of the Grayson’s thing on the CW.
    Not that i’m American, and get that station, but you know.
    I’m aware its a completly different angle, i sitll think it would be great, if they stayed true to Loeb’s story. But i can’t see it happeneing, especilly with TDK being so recent, and the Harvey Two-Face story been recently re-told (not to mention the Heath-Joker in all his Aussie Glory 😉 )
    I really would like to see some more decent two-face stuff. Nightwing is currently failing at him at the moment. Could you beleive that last story arc?
    Sorry, i’m rambling.
    But as i said, the film-like blending of comic-art and words is how i get a good feeling in a book. On that note, you should Start reading 100 Bullets by Azzarello, if you haven’t allready.
    – Brian, Australian Bat-Fan

  4. That would be cool! I’d love to see an animated movie version of The Long Halloween, though, at least. I’ve heard rumors before …

    With Nolan’s next Bat-film, you mean? I totally agree. But hey, maybe Two-Face is alive … 😛

    Haha, that last story arc was nuts. Tomasi’s writing is so inconsistent in its quality. I take it you’re a BOF reader. 🙂 My review of the latest NIGHTWING should be up very soon. Keep an eye out!

    I haven’t! I’ll have to look into it. Thanks for the recommendation!

  5. 5 Brian

    Yeah, i followed BOF pretty religiously since this time in 2006, i think. That build up to TDK was just, that crazy. though LAtly, i think Jett (or Bill) might’ve gone a little crazy with power (don’t tell him i said that! 😛 )
    unfortunatly, i bought the screen play for the Dark Knight, and it says, (quite bluntly) that Harvey was “Laying on the ground. Neck Broken Dead.” He is my fav villain, and that hurt my pride.
    The issue of course being that what are we going to do for the third film? In Begins, the first hour was batman’s development. In TDK the first hour, we had Joker just being ‘there’ while Harvey and the other characters were developed. So in B3, are just gonna have Batsy running away from the cops while Selina Kyle (*crosses fingers*) or Riddler (*as long as its not Johnny Depp: Crosses Fingers.*) have their stroylines developed?
    Yeah, i cought your last reveiw of Nightwing 150, i agree, it was better than 149, but what got me miffed was how Harvey Two-Face just killed people without flipping the coin. And, call me the new agey-comic-type, but the army of hot-air baloons seemed a little /too/ comic-book-ey for me. We all have our own tastes.
    What i’m worried about? Is that Bruce Wayne is actually gonna die in Grant Morrison’s SL in Batman. If he does… I’m going to fly to California and punch him in the face personally.
    Speak soon, loving the blog 😉
    – Brian, Aussie Bat-Fan

  6. Haha! Don’t worry, I won’t. 🙂

    Yeah, I know, I have that book, too. I used it for my big TDK review. I dunno, but I think they will logically take a lot from Dark Victory, considering how the first two books have gone and how they correlate to Year One and The Long Halloween.

    I don’t think we’ll see someone like the Riddler, though. In fact, Goyer said we wouldn’t see any villain who has been on-screen before. Personally, I’m rooting for Hush.

    True, he was still a little iffy. But it was an improvement from what Tomasi made him previously, so w00t! 😛

    I have no idea, but if that turns out to be the case, tell me and we’ll punch him in the face together. Or you can punch him in the face and I’ll kick him … somewhere. ;D

    Thanks, man! Stop by anytime. 🙂 I’ve been seriously neglecting my blog, but I do post links to my other writing on sites every week, so feel welcome to check that out.

  7. 7 Brian

    Just as a side note? Hush would be cool, but would cause people who are only into the batman movies to go; ‘Who?’ Everyone knows the jokers, that part of the reason TDK was so successful.
    I’d like Catwoman and Two-Face to be honest. Riddler doesnt’ float my boat, but i imagine Nolan could do somethign awesome.
    Yeah, i had a read of your Interveiw with Dustin Nguyen (sp?) on GEN. Felt weird cause, you know, i’m a guy.
    Keep it up!
    Its great to read. And seriously, pick up a copy of 100 Bullets.
    – Brian

  8. Haha, Hush would be cool for so many reasons; yeah, definitely that. Hush is the real world equivalent of Christian Bale in the sense that people don’t know who he is, despite how much he rocks. 😀 I’m not kidding, either.

    Nolan would make anything awesome, haha!

    LOL you shouldn’t—we’re only called the Girls Entertainment Network because our writing staff is all females; we have some male minor writers and definitely guys in our audience. But heh, don’t feel bad, I’ve gotten that response before, with someone I interviewed, haha!

    Will do!

  9. 9 Brian

    I take it you read Dini’s Heart of Hush Story Arc? That was sveyr, very awesome. Especially the last chapter, when he kills his mother, and says to her; “Hush, Mother, hush.”
    Gave me chills, thought that was awesome. Is the last part of RIP out in America yet? I only got part five yesterday. Christ, it was awesome. Loved the dialouge between Joker and Batman (or, Zur-en-ahh, or whateverthefuck he’s called), i’m starting to think that maybe This is all a delusion, and Bruce ciuld still be in his cave-coma thing to figure out what its like to be joker? That could explain it, this whole clusterfuck of an ordeal could just be an escape into Joker’s mind, of paranoia and delusion.
    Of course, then he’d be playing ‘its all jsut a dream’ angle, and piss a few people off. but i dont’want to see Batman die, nor do i want batman to continue with joker knowing that Batman is bruce wayne.
    I have a feelign that Joker will slaughter Hurtz in the last part, though. You dont’ call Joker ‘my faithful servant’ and just get away with it.
    – Brian

  10. Ohh yeah. “Heart of Hush” is fantastic stuff. And I KNOW! 😀 That part rocked socks.

    BATMAN #681 comes out next week here in the US. I haven’t been crazy about this “RIP” thing. Grant Morrison is a great writer, but this has just been choppy and half-ridiculous. The last issue was an improvement of sorts, though.

    Haha yeah, the “it’s a dream” angle would be lame. That’s such an overused convention anymore that it hardly ever works nowadays. But I don’t want Bats/Bruce to die, either. I have no idea how it’s going to end, we’ll just have to wait and see. 🙂

    With the kind of relationship the Joker and Batman have, it’s not a surprise to think on some level, the Joker does know—he just doesn’t care. He cares about Bats, not Bruce. There have been numerous moments in Batman history to suggest this. It’s kind of the same thing with Gordon—the relationship is so deep that he just knows.

    Hehehe, yeah. Seriously, what was up with that? I couldn’t believe the Joker would just take that shit. 😛

  11. 11 Brian

    Yeah, it does seem all over the place. I missed an issue at the beginign of the year, and since then it seems like nothing has made sense. I cuagth up on it, and it /still/ doens’t make sense. I like the Art, and Joker is pretty cool.
    Did you ever see the animated film ‘Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker’? Well, in a flashback, it shows Joker finding out who batman really is, and he says: “deep down you’re just a little boy crying for his mommy and daddy. It’d be funny if it weren’t so pathetic… oh, what the hell, i ‘ll laugh anyway!”
    But yeah, thats really cool. and i understand what you mean; Joker couldnt’ care less who batman is, h’s only conncered with batman. but it just helps with the mythos, you know?
    And yeah, i can’t see him taking it either. Especially with the look on his face when Hurtz tells him.
    And i seriously don’t want Alfred to be Bruce’s father or any of that… too world bending. Oh well, i guess we’ll find out soon.
    -Brian

  12. Well, part of the problem is that Morrison is making obscure references—like to single issues of the ’70s. You should have to do research to understand a comic; usually Morrison is quite brilliant, but this is just lazy. The art rocks, though. Lol.

    Yes! That’s such an awesome movie. 🙂

    And if he does take it, then that’s just unbelievable writing of the Joker.

    Ohh, yeah, there’s that. That’s just ridiculous. I don’t think he is, though, but you never know with Morrison …

  13. 13 strangecolour22

    Heya Steph. I meant to shoot this too you a few posts ago, but kept forgetting.

    http://strangecolour22.wordpress.com/

    please check it out when you get a sec 😉

  14. Sweet! 🙂 I’ll blogroll ya.


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