I have read a great many comics about Dick Grayson. While there have been some stories I haven't enjoyed, some characterisation that grated and some artwork I found 'ugly', I was able to read the comic and enjoy it for what it was. This title I simply couldn't stomach because (in my opinion)it is blatant child abuse for abuse's sake. I purchased the first three issues of this title and then cancelled my order. |
All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder |
2005 to Present
"Episodes 1 to 3"
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Please note: this story takes place on Earth 31.
Okay... I really don't know where to start. Brief summary... this is a retelling of Dick's Grayson's origin... except it certainly isn't the Dick Grayson I know. Vicki Vale and Bruce go to the circus... Dick's parents are shot - yes, shot... Dick is kidnapped by the police, and then rescued by Batman. My impression? Aggghhhh! Yes, I think that covers it. The next would be, what on Earth are they doing? I was reading away and John Grayson gets this funny blot on his forehead and... I didn't realize he'd been shot. I kept reading, did a double take, flicked through a few pages to be sure I'd read it correctly and... he'd been shot! This isn't Batman. Batman's parents were shot. Dick's fell. They have completely changed the dynamic between the two of them. Dick has always understood Batman's aversion for guns but never felt it himself. Now... well, now they are identical. Why?
One of Bruce's earlier lines had me shuddering,... "I've had my eye on him for a while"... why? He was planning to welcome Dick into the fold? He was planning to have a partner? If I'd been Vicki Vale, I'd have been reporting him. Men who, 'have their eye' on children... looking for talent... need to be reported to the authorities!
And Dick is 12. 12. Bruce was 12 (originally... who knows what age it is now) when his parents were killed. Dick was eight. Shattered that this book was as bad as I'd been told, I decided that it had to be depicting the life of Dick Grayson on Earth 2 or 3 or Z or somewhere else. I did an internet search and found an interview with the writer... read it...and just kept blinking.
Frank Miller: I also wanted to do something with Dick Grayson that was a lot different than the bland version that was around at the beginning, or the version that cast him as a quasi-Batman. I wanted Dick to be his own kid. Also, I love the idea of making him even younger than he was before.
NRAMA: How old is he in this story?
FM: He’s only 12 years old. I tell you he’s 12 in almost every third caption, so there’s no doubt.
So he changes it from Dick's parents falling to their deaths (apparently bland) to Dick's parents being shot and Dick becoming angry and broody... um, and this makes him not a quasi-Batman? And now he's younger than 8 by being 12? Am I missing something? Younger than before? Before DC decided to make him older? Originally he was eight. I have a Teen Titans book (thank you Marv... Marv, oh where, oh where are you?) where Dick is shedding his Robin costume and he says 'this costume I've worn since I was nine.' Look, I don't want to get caught up on the age thing, because when it comes down to it, ages mean nothing in DC Universe. The important thing is the relationships between the characters and... this is just all wrong.
Quote: FM: it is important in the series. My Robin is snotty. The two do not get along for a long time. There’s always banter back and forth, where Robin thinks that a lot of the stuff Batman does is old fashioned and weird, and kind of odd – and this is Batman, who is all of 24 or 25. But when you’re 12, a 24 or 25 year old is Methuselah.
Snotty? A kid who grew up in the circus. Dick idolized Bruce in the early years. He was in awe of him. He didn't think he was 'old fashioned'.
Quote: FM: If there are rules, no one has told them to me. They wanted me to cut loose with Batman and Robin. I mean, they didn’t want me to turn them into characters they wouldn’t be, but nobody’s ever really told this story, as far as I know.
No one's told this story? Well, I guess he's right on one account. No one has crucified the relationship between Dick and Bruce to this extent before. As for no one telling they story of the early days between Bruce and Dick... that is what I was so looking forward to. Quite frankly, I think he failed after one issue. I guess I'm being harsh, but I am so desperately disappointed. Here is a book all about telling Dick's story and the Dick in it is unrecognisable.
The last page of the comic is horrific. Batman is 'conscripting' this child. That isn't the way it was. Dick found out who Bruce was and he desperately wanted to join him. This version borders on child abuse... Bruce is crackers and obviously a despot.
And finally, we have Vicki Vale intimately involved and talking a personal interest in this boy. So, how is the this woman, who is supposed to have half a brain, going to react when Bruce takes in an acrobat and Batman suddenly turns up with a partner the same age, build an able to flip his way around the city?
Positive: The art is incredible. Way to go Jim Lee. Here are some samples from the series. They are like paintings.
I thought I may be able to cope with this series by convincing myself it is the story of Dick Grayson on some other Earth. However, after reading books two and three - see below - I realized there was no way I could buy a book that uses the emotional and physical abuse of a child for entertainment.
"Episode Two". A car ride with a physio. That is how I would sum up this one. What happens? Batman drugs Dick, thinks about him as an 'item' and engages in a car chase with the police. His thoughts are crazy and cruel. Dick's reactions are rediculous.
Who on earth is this guy in
the Batsuit? I don't know him. He's crackers. He's cruel.
Demented. Look, I know Batman has never been the most stable of
God's creatures but pleeeassse. There isn't an ounce of compassion
in him. I have to say, if Bruce was this far gone, Alfred
would have had him committed!
Miller wanted to show Bruce as younger... well, he's acting like a
15 year old who has stolen the family car. His thoughts about Dick
are so clinical and... nope. To quote Dick from Batgirl 29 "No, the
man I know couldn't have done this." That's just how I feel. This
isn't Batman. This isn't Bruce. This is rubbish!
And Dick is... who is this kid? What kid, after just seeing his
parents murdered only minutes before, can muster up thoughts like...
spilled their brains all over my feet? Yeah, okay. The man
pretending to be Batman has drugged him but...the entire thing is
"Episode Three". To be honest, I didn't read it. I flicked through. More of the same. Everytime Dick opens his mouth, Batman tells him to shut up. I can't imagine any child being raised by such coarse, callus, unfeeling monster. That is one thing Bruce wasn't. He loved Dick. He showed Dick he cared when he was young. My advice - don't waste your money. There won't be any further reviews here. I draw the line at reading the emotional abuse of a child for entertainment's sake.
For those interested in the interview with Frank Miller, you'll find it here.