Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Batman and Robin: Batman Must Die

VIII. Batman and Robin: Batman Must Die
For me Batman and Robin has been the pinnacle of Grant Morrison's run on Batman so far, and Batman Must Die was my favourite arc. The trade of Batman Must Die includes Morrison's last four issues on Batman and Robin and the one shot Batman: The Return, as well as some bonus material at the end. This story shows why Damian is a bad-ass, even in red and green tights, and why he is a worthy, albeit different, Robin. This trade ties in to the end of The Return of Bruce Wayne and, whilst there is a bit of an overlap in the time-line, it is a necessary overlap to see what happens in Gotham leading up to Bruce's return.

Batman Must Die starts with a bang and doesn't let up; in media res at the beginning of the first issue shows what is to come in a few issues time and the path there is nothing like you would expect. This story expertly weaves together the plots of three super villains, not all working together, as well as two batmen and a Robin; without making it feel at all overcrowded. Somehow Morrison managed to bring together stuff that happened in The Black Glove, Batman and Robin and The Return of Bruce Wayne in a cohesive story, that definitely benefits from being four issues long.
Robin is a total badass in this trade.
Professor Pyg makes a return here in the service of 'Thomas Wayne' as they conspire to hold Gotham City to ransom with his viral addiction; an unlikely partnership between Batman, Robin and Joker forms to combat this. If you were to split up Grant Morrison's take on Batman this book would undoubtedly be the end of act two, and quite an end it is too; pretty much every mystery is answered here. Just as you think that the Batman franchise will return to normal with Bruce as Batman, Damian as Robin and Dick as Nightwing, The Return throws everything on it's head. At first I wasn't sure about the Dick and Damian dynamic, but over the course of Batman and Robin it has really grown, to the point where having Bruce as Batman will seem strange.

Whilst Batman Must Die brings a large storyline to an end The Return introduces a new idea; Batman as a global sign of justice. The Return references early Batman as seen in Year One, but is more about setting up the next chapter of Batman. It's great to see Bruce and Damian interact, as they haven't been together since Batman and Son, and a lot has changed since then; Damian has donned the cape, been cut off by his mother and had Dick as a paternal figure. The Return feels more like a prologue to the next chapter in Morrison's Batman, rather than an epilogue to all that has come before, and suffers slightly for it, but makes me interested to see what Morrison does with Batman Incorporated.

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