Monday, March 1, 2010

Comic Book Issues: Batman and Robin #7

Oh Grant Morrison. You had me, you really did. Up until issue 7 of Batman and Robin I was really enjoying it. I had mixed feeling about R.I.P. I felt like you were trying maybe to do too much with the story, but I didn’t hate it, and the outcome led to my favorite character getting to be Batman.

And when Batman and Robin started I was pleasantly surprised. Your Dick Grayson wasn’t a perfect representation of the character in my eyes, but at least he didn’t piss me off like some other takes on Dick Grayson have. I still don’t like Damian but I was willing to tolerate him to see where the story went.

I didn’t really care for your Jason Todd (or even to see Jason again so soon after Battle for the Cowl). I thought your obsession with considering everything in continuity went a little far when you made Jason a red head again and claimed Bruce made him dye it to be more like Dick. I don’t feel Bruce would do that, but what makes matters worse is that Jason’s origin as the second Robin has been told with him having dark hair. So by trying to make sense of some comic issues that current continuity says didn’t happen you make current issues in continuity not make sense. I also felt like it was a bit lazy and boring to have Jason revert to being an all out villain again. (And way to make Tim Drake look like an idiot for helping Jason escape from prison at the end of the Robin series. At that point there had been character development and Tim felt Jason deserved a second chance. Although I can’t blame only you since Tony Daniel did the same thing in Battle for the Cowl by having Jason nearly kill Tim.) Parts of the story were still good (the Flamingo was incredibly creepy) and overall I still had a positive impression of the book.

But I just finished issue 7, and that one, sir, made no sense. I don’t mind the story line, what bothers me is that you gave me no reason to feel like Dick Grayson should be thinking that this is a good idea. I’m fine with characters making bad choices, so long as I have an understanding of what led them to make those bad choices. And I feel like we’re missing that here. Dick is being really stupid and I don’t see why he should be acting this stupid.

As recently as the Blackest Night tie in issues Dick Grayson was shown to accept the death of his loved ones. He, like Bruce before him, is mortal. He knows that what he does will probably kill him. And he knows that in most cases (revolving door of death aside) that is the end of it. So why does he suddenly feel like the best solution is to try to cheat that and bring Bruce back?

Perhaps he is feeling the stress of the job, or perhaps he is upset about Daimian. But you didn’t give me any proof of that. All you did was put Dick in this really odd frame of mind that seems out of character. Especially since Damian is apparently going to be fine and Dick has every reason to be aware of that fact. And while we’re on the subject of Damian…

Seriously, I’m supposed to buy the idea that Damian is just getting a brand new spine? I’m willing to suspend disbelief while enjoying fiction. I bought the Catwoman’s heart being out of her body and her being kept alive by a machine in recent Detective Comics. Because we do heart transplants in the real world. And because Hush is a doctor and had the help of Mr. Freeze. So their tech is going to be better than our tech and can do cooler things. And their tech was impressive to the superhero doctor and master of tech that Batman called in for consult. I felt it was impressive and advanced and “possible.” But Damian’s new spine floating above his body in the giant water tank? Sorry Mr. Morrison, but that was hokey. Talia isn’t a character that strikes me as having that kind of ridiculous technology anyway. And a new spine? You can’t just pull out the spine and stick in a new one. Your spine protects a bundle of nerves that control your entire body (which is what is so dangerous about damaging the spine). If that complicated bit had been touched on or shown at all, I might have been more receptive, but from the picture it really just looked like we were dragging and dropping a new spine in there. And if he was going to be fine in one issue anyway why have his spine be damaged at all? Shatter a femur or a hip or something and get that replaced with a metal one. It’s more believable and then you’re not just going for the shock value of it being a horrible crippling injury that you are going to instantly handwave away. *sigh*

The other problem I have with Dick Grayson’s actions is that I don’t think that Bruce would want to be brought back to live with a Lazarus pit (and Dick should know this). That’s crossing a line. He turned down Ra’s time and time again at the offer of immortality. Bruce accepted that death would one day claim him in a way that Ra’s never could. I think Bruce would be really pissed if he was brought back to life this way. And I don’t think Dick is selfish enough to just not care what Bruce thinks about the matter. And honestly, in all the years they have known each other, this had to have come up one night in the Batcave (“Wow, Ra’s al Ghoul is one crazy dude, huh Batman? By the way, if you ever died saving the world would you want to be brought back with a Lazarus pit?”).

And what about the possibility that Bruce was finally at peace? This man has spent his entire life living with the torment of his parents’ death. He has always been dark and brooding and rather messed up because of that. Dick Grayson saw all of this. He saw how Bruce tried to help him so that he would not turn out the same way. And he didn’t. Dick got past his parent’s death in a way Bruce never could. And he had to have seen how hard it was for Bruce to keep up the good fight. So when it was finally over, why would Dick want to do anything more than let him rest? To perhaps be with the parents he lost in some form of afterlife, or to just not have to fight so hard anymore. Now Dick can fight for him. Why would he think that Bruce would want to be ripped from what is potentially a peaceful afterlife back into the never ending fight against the criminally insane, metahumans, aliens, and gods?

Also, I can’t help but think back to the Return of Ra’s al Ghoul. During that arc Tim had a similar dilemma. Ra’s offered to help Tim bring back everyone he had lost (and Tim has lost more loved ones than most in capes and tights). He had the chance to bring back his father, his best friend (who came back anyway) and his girlfriend (who apparently wasn’t actually dead). Now, it’s been a few years, but I remember Dick showing up at the scene and making it clear that he didn’t approve (there was a throw down of brotherly love as I recall). In the end he let Tim make his own choice, but he certainly didn’t want him to do it. So what has changed?

My other problem (which I admit is nitpicky) was that you had Dick referring to Bruce as his “brother.” I just don’t see that. Bruce is Dick’s father. It’s really that simple to me. I’m good with the best friend line. Yeah, Bruce and Dick were close (and then grew apart, and then mended things) and they have a very deep respect for each other. But the age difference and the fact that Bruce was always a mentor to Dick makes the brother thing just weird to me. A brother is your equal. Time Drake (Wayne) is Dick’s brother. And even though I think Dick is in many ways Bruce’s equal (and in some ways better than his mentor), I don’t think that Dick would ever lower Bruce to his own level.

Now I’m willing to see the story out and give it a chance to prove me wrong. Maybe Dick will have a what-the-hell-was-I-thinking moment and will realize what an incredibly stupid idea all of this is. I’m still willing to let it play out. I’m just not as optimistic as I was.

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