Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Batman and Robin: Batman vs. Robin

VI. Batman and Robin: Batman vs. Robin
When I approached Batman and Robin I thought it was going to be a camp affair, with Dick Grayson as Batman, a ten year old as Robin and it's deceptively bright covers; this is not at all what you get. Batman and Robin explores some pretty dark themes, has a mature tone, and great characterisation. The Batman vs. Robin trade is made up of six issues, split up into two arcs; Blackest Knight and Batman vs. Robin. Blackest Knight is only loosely tied into the Blackest Night Green Lantern series, as they share a similar theme and were published at about the same time, but don't contain any cross over characters.

Blackest Knight follows on from Red Hood asking Dick why he hasn't done everything in his power to bring back Bruce; they know about the existance of Lazarus pits, why haven't they used one? Dick travels to England to attempt to ressurect Bruce, Knight and Squire feature heavily in this arc as Damian is out of action after the events in Batman Reborn. Blackest Knight is probably the darkest Batman and Robin gets and also my favourite arc of the series. In the behind the scenes section of this trade Morrison says that he has an imaginary Knight and Squire series growing in his head and it shows.
Batman vs. Robin is a bit of a misleading title.
I love Morrison's depiction of the United Kingdom with it's villains steeped in tradition, its North/ South crime divide and the way everyone speaks with a thick, almost incomprehensible, accent. However, if you aren't British you might not appreciate all of the references and probably won't know how to read a Jordie accent. Morrison, being Scottish, clearly had a lot of fun writing this as, although the tone is quite dark, there is a lot of humour here; Britain probably would have the silliest villains, like the Morris Men, and clearly the equivalent to Arkham Asylum would be the Queen's jail.

Batman vs Robin is important in a number of ways; it sets up the finale of Morrison's Batman and Robin and further develops Damian as a character. In my opinion the relationship between Dick and Damian is great as it turns the usual Batman and Robin partnership on its head, with a light hearted Batman and a scowling Robin, whilst maintaining Batman as the patriarchal figure; it's clear Dick doesn't always know how to behave with Damian, like a brother or father? Batman vs. Robin is quite slow paced to begin with but picks up speed in the second issue and ends on a big reveal; this arc answers no questions, but certainly raises a lot. 

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