All-Star Batman and Robin #1 and 2
November 9, 2009
Suddenly Joel Schumacher's Batman seems subdued and well-executed.
Linkara: Hello and welcome to Atop The Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Say... (checks pocket watch) It's Miller Time!
Welcome to Miller Time, a new segment on the show where we chronicle the ever-growing insanity of comic book writer Frank Miller. Who's Frank Miller? Well, here's something we can thank him for:
King Leonidas: THIS! IS! SPARTA! (kicks the messenger down the well)
Linkara: And this:
Marv: (driving while grinding a man's face against the pavement) I don't know about you, but I'm havin' a ball.
Linkara: And let's not forget how he wizzed on Will Eisner's grave with this!:
The Spirit: She is my mother... she is my lover.
Linkara: Also Robocop 3. But we're not here to talk about the stupid movies based off of his work or the movies he's written, but rather his comics.
Frank Miller first got big attention with Daredevil, reinventing the character into the more grim 'n gritty version that we got to enjoy during his fight with the Surgeon General. He also got major props behind him for The Dark Knight Returns, another book that, like Watchmen, was heralded at its time as one of the most brilliant ever created - but we'll get to that when we review The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
But then somewhere along the way... well, Frank Miller went kinda coo-coo. I attribute it to Sin City. Oh, sure, Sin City is a fairly interesting take on noir-styles in comics and some of the stories are even entertaining, but it set a precedent for him that I don't think he's ever gotten away from. All of his artwork since Sin City has followed that same blocky, noir style even when it's in color. Sin City established the idea that he couldn't write a female character who wasn't a prostitute. He spent so much time working on Sin City that it’s become his standard mode of writing, with choppy, brief sentences that have become a parody in themselves of the grim 'n gritty era, which he himself derided as "stupid." In 1985, he said that "Batman is as good and pure a superhero as you can find." Well, twenty years later, he seems to have forgotten that. The Batman in this book is unheroic, psychotic, and in some parts seems pedophilic, even.
The All-Star books were meant to be DC's answer to Marvel's Ultimate universe – new series depicting superheroes starting their careers in a modern setting without decades of continuity to discourage new readers. A new comic reader can start fresh without having to worry about extensive back-story and situations that they may have never heard of. And considering Frank Miller's more-hits-than-misses track record with Batman, it seemed like a natural fit for him to write this series, right?
Well, the All-Star books seem to have pretty much become a failure. Oh don't get me wrong, All-Star Superman is frigging brilliant. I highly recommend it to anyone who wonders why anyone likes Superman. But All-Star Batgirl has apparently fallen through, All-Star Wonder Woman has been in development for years now, and All-Star Batman and Robin, despite being first published in September 2009 [Misspoke: September, 2005], still hasn't finished its twelve issue run! Yeah, in four years they've only managed to get to Issue 10!
So for our first edition of Miller Time, let's dig into All-Star Batman and Robin #1 and #2!
(opening credits and titlecard)
Linkara: There are actually two covers available for Issue 1 (albeit promotional materials combined the two images into one) of the same Gotham City background while one cover features Batman and the other Robin. I'm confused about why they felt the need to split the two characters so that they both had the cover devoted to them. I'd think it would make more sense actually to, as a buying incentive, have it be more like a two-part cover that could be combined into one, but hey, what do I know?
We start the action off with a young Dick Grayson performing a mid-air leap. I've gotta tell you, while the writing is what kills this book instantly, it's beautifully drawn; Jim Lee is a fantastic artist, and while he delves into the cheesecake a little too often, he's still one of the best pencillers in the industry. Dick states in our ever-helpful narration boxes:
Dick Grayson, Age 12: (narrating) This should get me KILLED. But it WON'T. Not that I can BREATHE with my HEART fighting it out with my ADAM'S APPLE, just now--
Linkara: And suddenly I can't help but think of the Star Trek fight music playing as a twelve year-old heart and an Adam's apple duke it out in a boxing match.
Dick goes on to talk about how much he loves his parents and how they’ll always catch him and in the last panel, it shows Dick with his arms spread wide, a happy smile on his face, and a narration box saying, "I fly." I actually have to admit, this opening sequence does work really well. However, the writing of Frank Miller rears its ugly head right here as Dick has apparently contracted Torgo syndrome:
Dick Grayson, Age 12: (narrating) They're always there for me. They always catch me. Mom and Dad. They always catch me. They're always there for me. They're always there for me.
Linkara: So wait, I - I'm confused - they're never there for you, then?
Flip the page and now we have moved fully into Frank's fantasy world of how women are supposed to be. It's a full-page shot of the Millerverse Vicki Vale. She's strutting around a large apartment (with huge, uncurtained windows behind her) in pink underwear and holding a martini. The narrator boxes give us this helpful insight into her character:
Narration: Vicki Vale. Columnist. Gadfly. Dictating. She's trouble. The kind of trouble you want.
Linkara: The Maidenform woman - you'll never know where she'll turn up! And what is Ms. Vale dictating?
Vicki Vale: So we got ourselves a Man of Steel in Metropolis – And why do we call him a Man of Steel? That does bring certain thoughts to mind.
Linkara: Like a steel pipe to the head! What magazine does she work for, anyway? Superhero Innuendo Monthly? 'In this issue - Diehard and the reason we want him fighting crime for us.'
As an aside, when people often cry sexism in comics because of skimpy outfits or skinny bodies, a common reaction is for people to cry out, 'But men have it bad, too! Men wear skintight outfits that show off muscular bodies that we can't hope to compare to!' Yeah, they don't really get the problem. It's not that the outfits are skimpy. It's impractical, but that’s not the issue. The issue is that women are drawn that way purely for the titillation of the male reader. There is no friggin' reason for Vicki Vale to be sauntering around her apartment in her underwear. No reason.
But perhaps I'm being too harsh on Frank, I mean it’s not like he's having Vicki Vale’s ass talk to us or anything and- oh, never mind. (Flip the page, last panel: Vicki Vale's buttocks, the focus of the shot, conversing with us.)
As for the text itself, Vicki continues talking about how Superman is so much better than Batman because of his mightier penis.
Vicki Vale: So Metropolis gets a Man of Steel. And what do we get in dear Gotham City? A damn flying rodent. Who doesn't even fly.
Linkara: ...wait, does he fly or doesn’t he? She continues:
Vicki Vale: Sometimes I despair, dear reader. Sometimes life seems to hold no meaning. They get a Man of Steel. We get a flying rat. What's a poor girl to do?
Linkara: Yes ladies, if you can't find a hot guy in a superhero costume to get all squishy over, your life is pretty much over. Thanks, Frank (!)
So after Vicki pulls a Jim Carrey by speaking through her rear about how much Bruce Wayne is hot (oh, irony, hahahaha!), she's interrupted by her buzzer. It's Alfred, who says that Bruce Wayne is requesting her presence. And like Pavlov's dogs, Vicki scurries at the sound of a bell at the prospect of being with her man. In a two-page spread, we see Vicki trying on a variety of perfectly reasonable outfits, albeit now she's also changed her lingerie to black for some reason. Throughout it, she says no less than four times: "I'm having a date with BRUCE WAYNE." She settles in a cleavage-exposing white outfit that Emma Frost would blush at.
Alfred informs her that they'll be attending the circus and Vicki could care less since, as shown above, she only cares about the fact that:
Vicki Vale: I'm having a date with BRUCE WAYNE. How cool is THAT?
Linkara: But what our Vicki here doesn't know is that Bruce Wayne is actually a penniless movie theater clerk - let's watch the wackiness!
Cut back to the circus and Dick is performing a complex maneuver. And what are his thoughts on the matter?
Dick Grayson, Age 12: (narrating) They're always there for me. They always catch me. I fly.
Linkara: We're nine pages in and besides for Vicki's penis monologue I think we've had a grand total of four sentences in this story which are repeated ad nauseum. Dick fails to grab the next swing bar and starts to fall, prompting audience members to start saying "My God!" Yes, every single one of the speech balloons that are reactions to this just start off with "My God" and I started to wonder if this is supposed to be some kind of sermon. I will say happily that one of the balloons says, "My God this is horrible" and making me think the editor slipped that in to give their own commentary on the issue.
Vicki is of course naturally worried about the child who is plummeting to his death, but Bruce reassures her that the kid knows what he's doing. Dick suddenly grabs a grappling hook and rope from his armpit (I guess), tosses it up to the swing bar, and manages to stop his free fall! Other than to show off that the kid already has talents that will come in handy when he becomes Robin, why isn't there a safety net for the trapeze? In other comics I know it was said that they had removed it since this was supposed to be a complex, death-defying stunt to impress the audience, but no dialogue here indicates that's the case here. And while it's certainly cool that Dick can accomplish such a move, wouldn't a net be safer than storing a grappling hook in your armpit flesh? I mean that's got to be uncomfortable.
Back to Vicki and Bruce, where Vicki comments that Dick's amazing and in a very creepy moment, Bruce replies:
Bruce Wayne: Yeah, I've had my eye on him for awhile. He's something, all right.
Linkara: Vicki, for once acting like the woman she's supposed to be based on, questions him on that comment. However, she quickly succumbs back to the Vicki Vale of Earth-Miller when Bruce smiles at her and replies:
Bruce Wayne: I've got an eye for talent.
Linkara: Bruce Wayne: Agent of NAMBLA. Vicki realizes something's up, but she's too gaga for Brucie to make the connection:
Vicki Vale: (narrating) I'm having a DATE with BRUCE WAYNE.
Linkara: I'm sorry, I can't follow this plotline, is she on a date or something!?
The Flying Graysons take a bow, but then suddenly bullets strike Dick's parents and kill them. What I don't understand is why they felt the necessity to change this little detail of Dick's origin story. Originally, Mob boss Tony Zucco was trying to extort money out of the circus and they refused to budge, so he put acid on the trapeze ropes, killing both of them. This would only leave circumstantial evidence pointing him to the crime. Instead, we now have a shooter who struck down the parents for reasons a new reader doesn't know and is a major lapse in logic for the criminals, since anyone who brought a gun to the circus and then had to take aim to kill them as well as they did would've been spotted immediately committing the deed!
Bruce slips off from a shocked Vicki Vale as he too falls prey to whatever mental disease has taken hold of the others, and repeats in his narration captions: "There's no way out."
Torgo: There is no way out of here. It'll be dark soon. There is no way out of here.
Linkara: Apparently making us believe that Bruce can find a hidden spot to change amidst the chaos of a heavily-packed circus tent, Frank has Batman suddenly appear and instantly find the shooter as he flees the scene. He tosses a batarang into the guy and apparently he even put snake poison on the edge of it !! Batman identifies him as a minor thug.
Batman: Caught myself a six-and-a-half-foot-long MINNOW. There's a lot of FOOD CHAIN to work my way up. But first -- the KID. Dick Grayson. Age Twelve.
Linkara: No you asshole, don’t interrogate him, interrogate the shooter!
Vicki Vale: (narrating) There's something ROTTEN in Gotham City. It wears a BADGE.
Linkara: Oh my God, Joe Friday's snapped!
Vicki's trying to get the cops to get Dick Grayson, Age twelve to a hospital, but the cops are strangely adamant about it. They say he's in good hands, but Vicki states:
Vicki Vale: Yeah, I've seen what you cops do with your hands. What girl in Gotham hasn't? And who knows what you do to little boys?
Linkara: Um, Vicki? He’s a dirty cop, you really can’t shame him. Furthermore, if Vicki's accusation is true, why in the hell is she writing a stupid gossip column about who's got the world’s finest crotch when she could be printing the truth about Gotham's cops? The cop hits Vicki across the face and she spits blood out of her mouth.
Vicki Vale: (narrating) Gotham's FINEST. It wouldn't be LADYLIKE to say finest at WHAT.
Linkara: Considering her actions in the last few pages, I'm trying to figure out exactly what her definition of "ladylike" is.
Actually acting like a competent individual for a moment, she commandeers Bruce's car and Alfred comes along for the ride. She pursues the cop car, assuming that the cops are planning on beating up Dick and that she can get photographic proof of the cops assaulting a defenseless minor, thus having a felony crime that would get Washington’s attention. Dick argues with the cops about how his parents were murdered, but the cops tell him he's remembering it wrong. He even tells them that -
Dick Grayson, Age 12: I saw the man who did it. And I can identify him.
Linkara: And again, I have to shake my head in disbelief since the cops wouldn't have had to rough up Dick if they had just cut the ropes instead of shooting them in the middle of a crowded circus tent! Furthermore, how the hell could Dick see who it was that did it?! When his parents were shot, he was taking a bow with his eyes closed and only looked up when he heard the bullets being fired and hitting his parents in the backs of their heads. There were hundreds if not thousands in that tent – how in the heck could he have seen who did it after just glancing up?!
Vicki Vale thinks to herself:
Vicki Vale: (narrating) I don't get it. Why KILL two AERIALISTS – then use the COPS to do LORD knows what to their BOY? It doesn't make any SENSE. It doesn't make any SENSE.
Linkara: Vicki, I know it doesn't. Vicki, I know it doesn't.
A swarm of bats suddenly flies down into the gulch where the cops have brought Dick. Vicki expounds upon her own feelings about bats.
Vicki Vale: (narrating) I hate the country. I hate BATS.
Raoul Duke: We can't stop here - this is Bat Country!
Vicki Vale: (narrating) Bats SUCK.
Linkara: (exaggerated voice) I'nt even like bats n' stuff, bats are stewpid!
Batman tells us:
Batman: (narrating) I knew these cops would take the boy to the GULCH. So I set up my SONICS. Bats like my SONICS.
Linkara: Personally, I thought Knuckles was kinda cool, but I haven't played in awhile so- hm, what? Oh, well, I much prefer talking about old SEGA games than I do about this...
The bats attack the cops, who subsequently decide to flee. Batman stops the sonics and- Oh my lord... He drives the Batmobile through the cop car and splits it in half! I am just... Wow. The physics of it are baffling! The ethical implications are mind-numbing! The sheer mischaracterization in it has got me wishing I had the safe, reliable days of Youngblood! I will admit, upon looking at the special edition of this issue and the original script that Frank Miller had written, he only writes that the Batmobile should smash through the cop car and utterly demolish it. I'm just trying to wrap my head around how Jim Lee went from "utterly demolish" to "slice the car in two."
Speaking of which, here's what he had to say about Vicki Vale in her underpants!
Script: (sleazy voice) "...bra and panties and not one inch of clothing more, walks - no, hell, she struts -..." "Detail her BRA. It'll drive them crazy, Jim." "...give us an even better angle on the babe. [...] She knows what she's got. Make them drool." "OK, Jim, I'm shameless. Let's go with an ASS SHOT. Panties detailed. Balloons from above. [This is not a joke. This is the actual script.] We can't take her eyes off her. Especially since she's got one fine ass."
Linkara: Class act, our Mr. Miller.
Batman picks up Dick Grayson, Age 12 by the collar and tells him:
Batman: On your feet, soldier. You've just been drafted. Into a war.
Linkara: "And you had better not be a fan of rock 'n roll music!" Thus our first issue ends. And somewhere, Bob Kane and Bill Finger are crying.
For Issue 2, besides for the awesome Jim Lee cover depicting Batman standing over a distraught Dick Grayson, an alternate cover was made available by Frank Miller himself. Confusingly, it features Dick Grayson as Robin with Batman's shadow over him while a blood splatter is spread across the comic page. Symbolic of the violent struggle of adolescence being forced to grow up in a harsh and violent world or just a really lame cover? You make the call!
So, only a scant hour or so from his parents having been shot in front of him, Batman announced to Dick Grayson that he had been drafted into a war. We open the book on a confusing angle of the Batmobile driving up a REALLY big hill (or a mountain, neither of which I knew were near Gotham) and overlooking the city below. Frank's schizophrenic writing is in full force here as he begins:
Batman: (narrating) From up HERE, Gotham City is beautiful.
Linkara: Awww, well, now isn't that just nice and-
Batman: (narrating) Beautiful. Like EDGAR ALLEN POE'S sweet LENORE,
Linkara: O-kay, that's kind of weird, but-
Batman: (narrating) before her small COUGH brought a spot of BLOOD to her lip and the poet KNEW she was PLAGUED. DOOMED.
Linkara: ...show of hands, anybody else really freaked out right now?
Batman: (narrating) I've just KIDNAPPED a traumatized youngster. Strong boy. For his age, he's damned strong.
Linkara: And then I see a muffled "Mmff" word balloon coming from the Batmobile window and suddenly my Bruce Wayne: Agent of NAMBLA joke takes on a horrifying new reality. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go jab out my eyes and get brainwashed so I can get the horrible thoughts out of my head. "As good and pure a superhero as you can find," eh, Frank?
On the next page, he continues his stream of consciousness writing as we see a rather confusing image of Batman's glove over half of Dick's face while air jets within his glove expel some sort of gas from them (I suppose this is meant to calm him down, but then why is he covering his mouth and nose?):
Batman: (narrating) Dick Grayson. AERIALIST. Twelve years old. Brave boy. Damn strong. Not that he's got a PRAYER of ESCAPING my GRIP -- but he's STRONG.
Linkara: Is he strong? -
Spider-Man Theme Song: Listen, bud – he's got radioactive blood!
Linkara: Meanwhile, Alfred's trying to fix up Vicki Vale.
Alfred: Here now, dear, here now. Be still. Don't fuss.
Narration: Alfred Pennyworth. [...] Just getting started.
Linkara: Oh, God, what's he doing to her!? Curse you, Frank Miller, is nothing sacred to you?! Well actually, it seems in the aftermath of Batman's murderous rampage through the cop car, Vicki crashed Bruce's car and banged herself up rather severely. Vicki's still in bad shape, but she tells Alfred that she remembers...
Vicki Vale: ...every goddamn thing. Every goddamn moment.
Linkara: Boy, this comic has quite the potty-mouth on it, doesn't it?
Vicki Vale: I remember the kid. Dick Grayson. Age twelve.
Linkara: If you were confused about why I started to always refer to him as Dick Grayson, Age 12, your answer's right here – henceforth, any time a character refers to Dick, they always have to mention his age for some reason. Vicki exposits for those who were smart enough not to buy the first issue:
Vicki Vale: I saw it all. Dick Grayson. Age twelve. He was brilliant. Brilliant... Somebody murdered his parents. Right before his eyes. Brutally. Brutally. It was brutal.
Linkara: So, was it brutal? The narration captions explains to us who this is:
Narration: Vicki Vale. Columnist. Bearing witness.
Linkara: Lewis Lovhaug. Comic book reviewer. Bearing the pain of this comic.
Vicki continues to explain how Dick was taken by the cops like they had something to hide (and once again reminding me how if the cops had been responsible for the murder, they had less common sense than the Watergate burglars) and then Batman showed up and kidnapped him. Oh, and it was brutal, apparently. As Vicki wonders why Batman would kidnap Dick Grayson, she thankfully falls unconscious so she can shut up.
Back to Batman, where he explains about his world:
Batman: (narrating) My world. Welcome to MY world, Dick Grayson. BATS and RATS and WARTS (Linkara: Warts? What?) and all. You poor boy. You poor little bastard. Welcome to HELL. Hell. Or the next best thing.
Linkara: Jeez, can you imagine anyone narrating their own life like this? I-
Disembodied Voice: I entered the dentist's office. It was cold. Cold. COLD. Cold like the night my parents got their heads blown in. It's full of CAVITIES and GINGIVITIS and SHARP, POINTY THINGS. But thi - (Linkara is poking at the ceiling with a pole) Ow! Ow, stop poking me -!
Linkara: Get a job, ya hippy!
Anyway, Batman explains that the gas was supposed to knock Dick unconscious (well, maybe you shouldn't have put your hand over his mouth and nose then, moron!) and instructs him to sleep:
Batman: (narrating) The world I'm gonna(sic) wake you up to will be no better than the world you already know.
Linkara: Well, he could’ve still had a fun, prosperous life if the circus had adopted him, but you kind of screwed over that after you kidnapped him, you jerk. Actually, I think he was planning on doing this even if his parents hadn’t been killed – he did say that he had an eye on him.
Dick realizes that Batman's not speaking with his own voice, but a fake one:
Dick Grayson, Age 12: (narrating) It's like he's doing some lameass(sic) CLINT EASTWOOD impersonation.
Linkara: (chuckling) Okay, I don't actually have a problem with Christian Bale's Batman voice, but - here you go.
Batman Begins Batman: Where were the other drugs going? [...] Do I look like a cop?
The Dark Knight Batman: WHERE ARE THEY?!? (punch) WHERE ARE THEY?!??
ASBAR Batman: So sleep tight, punk.
Fortunate Son Batman: "Punk" is nothing but death... and crime... and the rage of a beast.
ASBAR Batman: Sleep tight, my ward.
Dick Grayson, Age 12: Huh? Whuzzat? What the hell's a "ward"?
Batman: ...Shut up. I'll do the talking, here.
Linkara: Oooo, BAT-Owned! The worst part of all of this is that he keeps talking about putting Dick through hell and he's smiling about it. Forgive my squirrelly ignorance, but didn't Batman swear that he'd make sure that no one had to go through the same kind of crap he had to go through when his parents died?
On the next page, the moment of truth – the moment everyone remembers this comic for. Dick Grayson asks...
Dick Grayson, Age 12: Who the hell are you, anyway, giving out orders like this?
Linkara: To which Batman, the man who can breathe in space, the man who could take out Galactus if he had a week to plan, and the man who will never quit as long as he can still draw breath responds...
The Goddamn Batman: What, are you dense? Are you retarded or something? Who the hell do you think I am? I'm the goddamn Batman.
Linkara: Ladies and gentlemen, we have an internet meeeeme! (dances to The Price is Right theme music)
Dick Grayson, age twelve, is unimpressed with the Goddamn Batman as he slowly comes to realize that his parents were killed a few short hours ago:
Dick Grayson, Age 12: (narrating) My parents were MURDERED. Somebody BLEW their BRAINS out.
Linkara: And as if Frank Miller realized that he was giving Dick Grayson, Age 12, too many lines and not enough Goddamn Batman, Dick also thinks:
Dick Grayson, Age 12: (narrating) (No. Don't go there. Not now.)
Linkara: Yeah, Frank, save the angsting for a comic that doesn't suck. Batman grumbles that the kid isn't getting scared no matter what he does. Umm... Bats? You just kidnapped him, shoved him in a car, and yelled at him about how you're going to make him your "ward" and you were grinning about it. I think the kid's crapping his pants right now but just doesn’t want you to know about it.
All of a sudden, police cars and motorcycle cops appear and start chasing down the Batmobile. Dick tries to get Batman to pull over, but he realizes that they aren't interested in arresting him anymore.
The Goddamn Batman: (narrating) I guess somebody on the FORCE put out a KILL ORDER on me. Cool. It’s about damn TIME.
Linkara: AGH. How many things are wrong with those sentences?! First of all, Batman doesn't say 'cool.' Ever. He doesn't have to – he's so cool he doesn’t need to acknowledge coolness anywhere else (besides the point that he’s too friggin' serious for it). Next, he's never gonna be happy that the police are chasing him down – he wants to have a good relationship with the Gotham PD so they don't get in his way when he's trying to take down criminals. And finally, Frank Miller has stated that this book takes place in the same universe as his Year One and Dark Knight Returns stories – except during Year One, he didn't have Robin with him and by the end of it, he was actively working with Gordon. As such, how in the hell did his relationship with the police get so sour after that? Oh, I'm sorry, I must be dense or retarded. I forgot that this comic makes no sense. Never mind, let's continue.
Batman goes completely nuts then, swerving around and driving towards all the cops while he laughs in maniacal glee. Dick Grayson, Age 12, is panicking of course as the "pure, good hero" Batman just smashes into cop cars. To make the scene even more unbelievable, the Batmobile suddenly converts into a plane. No, I'm not kidding here. Seriously, I'm only two issues in and almost every scene has a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment.
Dick Grayson echoes my own sentiments as he cracks, and the Batman that Frank Miller wrote, the guy who caught Carrie Kelly in the air and told her she was a "good soldier," the guy who once tried to rescue a cat from some shooting police officers, promptly slaps Dick Grayson. The next three pages are all twelve-panels each and manage to fit a surprising amount of dialogue in them (albeit most of it is just them repeating themselves over and over).
Batman scolds himself as he realizes he’s being completely insane with Dick:
The Goddamn Batman: (narrating) What I DOING to this kid? Who the hell do I think I AM?
Linkara: You’re the goddam- screw it, you know where that was going.
The Goddamn Batman: (narrating) Oh, HELL. Just LOOK at him.
Linkara: "Look at that adorable little face; Awwwww..."
The Goddamn Batman: (narrating) STOP it. No DOUBTS. Remember the MISSION. NOTHING MATTERS -- except the MISSION. HE doesn't matter. YOU don't matter. NOTHING MATTERS -- except the MISSION.
Linkara: Honestly, is he speaking in haikus now or something? Of course he matters! This is ridiculous! In fact, this guy is so much NOT like Batman, I'm not gonna refer to him as Batman anymore. In the original text review, I called him 'BINO', or 'Batman In Name Only'. Well that's not NEARLY adequate enough for this psycho! I hereby dub him: CRAZY STEVE!
Dick Grayson, Age 12, wonders about the policemen:
Dick Grayson, Age 12: Those were cops, down there. Back there. They were cops.
Linkara: Whatchu gonna do, Crazy Steve? Whatchu gonna do when they come for you?
Crazy Steve tells him he’s got a lot to learn about fighting crime and Dick totally OWNS him again by pointing out that cops fight crime and Crazy Steve totally killed some cops. As if Frank suddenly realized that nothing so far has made us want to empathize with the hobo wearing Batman's costume, Dick speculates in his thoughts that 'Batman' is so lonely in his world and that when he doesn't talk, it's so quiet in the Batmobile.
More Sin City-inspired lines ensue:
Dick Grayson, Age 12: (narrating) He SUCKS air and for a SECOND it looks like he's got a RAZOR BLADE stuck between his TEETH--
Linkara: Umm... ew?
Dick Grayson, Age 12: (narrating) --then he TALKS and it sounds like every WORD he SAYS is a jagged chunk of GLASS that SCRAPES his THROAT on its way OUT.
Linkara: And if you ever wanted a reason to not start smoking, kids... Anyway, Crazy Steve talks about cops in Gotham:
Crazy Steve: Never talk to cops. Not in Gotham. Never let a cop get near you. Not in Gotham.
Linkara: Dick Grayson, Age 12, acknowledges what he’s saying and Crazy Steve says that:
Crazy Steve: There's only one cop worth a damn in Gotham City and he's nowhere near this case.
Linkara: What’s this? A reference to Jim Gordon in this fiasco? And here I was hoping he didn't exist anymore in Frank's confused little mind, because there's no way in hell Gordon would ever agree with anything Crazy Steve has been doing here.
He talks about how he knows Dick has seen cops in other cities across the world and that most of them are decent, but Gotham City isn't like those places and that's why most cities don’t need him. Crazy Steve, there's no place in the world that needs you. They need Batman, not the lunatic who's using his name. Bruce says that Gotham might need Dick, too:
Crazy Steve: Be brave, Dick Grayson. Be brave.
Linkara: I don't know, putting up with you these last two issues shows that he's pretty brave.
Dick thinks to himself about how Crazy Steve wants him to join his "nutso CRUSADE" and that fighting crime is a "Good way to get myself KILLED. And I wouldn't have any CATCHERS this time." You know, come to think of it, at no point during the first issue did either of his parents catch him. In fact, when Dick did fall, he pulled a grappling hook out of his armpit and caught himself, so why in the heck is he so broken up about the catching thing? Anyway, Dick speculates in his head and asks his parents what to do and we get a shot of his eye getting angry as he asks why they died and who killed them. Well, Crazy Steve might know considering he caught the killer and pumped him full of snake poison, but somehow I doubt he'll mention that to Dick. Dick gets a determined look on his face and our comic ends with him proclaiming:
Dick Grayson, Age 12: Yes, sir. I'll be brave.
Linkara: Thus Issue 2 concludes with an angled-off Robin 'R' symbol and the words "To Be Continued..." across the bottom. I'm not sure how I should feel about this last page. On one hand, this page could've been utilized earlier for honest character development for Vicki Vale or even poking in on the criminals behind this nonsense. On the other hand, Frank would've probably screwed that up too, so it's probably good that we didn't get more of this insanity.
These comics suck! There's no denying that they're beautifully drawn, but once again, great art can't make up for the horrifically awful writings of Frank Miller. And this is only the fairly recent stuff! Stay tuned in the months to come when we look at even more of his ramblings! (throws the book to one side and exits)
(End credits, to The Price is Right theme tune)
(Stinger is a clip from Superman: The Animated Series)
Ma: Still it wouldn't be bad if people knew a little more about Superman. I don't want anyone thinking you're like that nut in Gotham City...