TPB Review: Batman & Robin and Red Robin

Two weekends ago I devoured the comic-book trade-paperbacks: Batman & Robin volume 1: Batman Reborn, Red Robin: The Grail, and Red Robin: Collision. I read each one at least three times. Here are some random thoughts on these three books.

Batman & Robin: I absolutely love Frank Quitely’s art. It’s so distinct and full of character. His pencils are consistently great in this Batman & Robin run. Too bad I can’t same the same thing about Grant Morrison’s writing. I really don’t understand what happened to him. He used to be one of best and most consistent writers out there. For the last few years he’s had outstanding moments mixed with ones that leave you thinking, “What the f*ck was he thinking?!?”

Anyway, I was drawn to this book because I’m a big Nightwing fan and I wanted to see how Dick Grayson would do as Batman. I’m also fascinated by Damian Wayne, the new Robin. Damian is the son of Bryce Wayne and Talia al Ghul (Ra’s daughter). He was genetically bread for physical and mental perfection, but he’s also arrogant and harshly warped (being raised by the League of Assassins will do that to you). This version of Batman and Robin is fun because Batman is the light character and Robin is the dark one.

The first half of the book is kind of mess thanks to a really lame villain. The second half is infinitely better thanks to the return of the Red Hood (Jason Todd, the second Robin). It’s fun watching the Red Hood try to modernize vigilantism with a brutal sense of justice and using social media tools like Twitter. The second half of the book is really good, combining a sharp story, excellent action, and great art.

Red Robin: First off, it was hard to read these books without thinking of endless fries at Red Robin. Getting past that, this was the most pleasant comic-book surprise I’ve had in 2010. As I mentioned in this Coffee Talk, I love “tweener” characters — heroes that are no longer sidekicks, but aren’t the primary heroes just yet. These two books trace Tim Wayne’s (formerly Drake) path from being a sidekick as Robin to becoming his own man a Red Robin.

I absolutely loved Chris Yost’s writing in these books (you really need both trade paperbacks for the full effect). It blends action, mystery, a global chase, coming-of-age, romantic tension, and more. The story is well paced; it does a fantastic job of alternating the fight scenes with Tim’s cerebral stuff and fun banter between the various characters. The two books culminate in a plot by Ra’s al Ghul against Red Robin and it’s so completely awesome to see how Tim outsmarts one of Batman’s sharpest foes. [Minor Spoiler Alert!!!] I totally marked out when Ra’s called Tim “Detective” right before kicking him out a window. Ra’s usually reserves that title for Batman and using it on Tim shows how his respect for the former Boy Wonder has grown.

Like most Bat Books, the story begins and ends in Gotham. In between, Red Robin travels the world on an impossible quest. Of course he emerges triumphant, but it’s one hell of a ride to the end. While I can’t fully recommend Batman & Robin volume 1, I highly suggest picking up these two Red Robin books. I expected to enjoy them, but I was surprised that they were among my favorite reads of 2010. Excellent stuff.

Author: RPadTV

7 thoughts on “TPB Review: Batman & Robin and Red Robin”

  1. Hmmmmm i might pick up the Red Robin one but after skimming through it at a Borders or Barnes and Noble to make sure i'll like it. Then i'll order it on amazon. I only have 6 more days on my Optimus Prime free trial shipping. I would get Batman & Robin but i've already collected those in the comic books.

      1. yeah! i was like really Grant Morrison couldn't think of another villain for the new B & R to tangle with as a team?? Did he like totally rip this off from the Pygmalion play and just got to lazy to cover it up?? i'm really particular in batman storylines i pick up and the reason i really love the B.W and D.G. as Batman. I was really looking forward to D.G being Batman and Damian being Robin. I liked the way it's going to so far. they've got me hooked for another story arc now that B.W has returned.

      2. @rpad

        hey! did you see that JL: Crisis on Two Earths and B & S Public enemies are under $10 for Blu-ray. you may see these get bought up tomorrow, if the deal is still there!

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