Batman And Robin #13: Bringing It All Bat Home

Subjective but important: reading panels with Frazer Irving’s Joker, I imagine Heath Ledger’s voice.

Irving (who incidentally does all his work on computer, which boggles the mind), along with Grant Morrison, are responsible for last week’s Batman And Robin #13. This issue kicks off the latest in a series of Morrison-penned arcs stretching back a few years, with Bruce Wayne still absent, hurdling through time itself, and Simon Hurt–who resembles Bruce’s father, and might be the devil himself–laying siege to Gotham. Former boy wonder Dick Grayson, meanwhile, still wear the Bat-cowl, psychotic 10-year-old Damian Wayne at his side.

Dr. Simon Hurt

B&R #13 begins with our provisional Batman and Robin examining the Joker. The Joker, recently captured, has been making his way through Hurt’s men for reasons unknown–which on some level, sure, is because he and Bruce complete each other and the Joker can only behave differently in the real Batman’s absence, but still, the Joker usually has a plan. The opening scene will strike both casual and diehard fans as familiar. After all, there’s probably no way to write a scene involving Batman, the Joker, and a police station that won’t somehow recall The Dark Knight. But that Christopher Nolan’s films come to mind at all is unusual for an issue of Batman and Robin.

Morrison’s time on Batman is unique for any number of reasons. He has spend most of it writing the most unBatmanlike stories possible, at least insofar as the public has thought of Batman for the last twenty-five or so years: tortured, dark, gothic, etc, whatever you’d probably also use to describe a poorly-lit cathedral that got up and walked. And there’s plenty of this, sure. But there have also been homages to the cover of Purple Rain, vigilantes preoccupied with social media and brand recognition, zombified Bat-clones, and fights with cavemen. Morrison has picked out details from some of the most bizarre Batman stories of the 1950s–stories that have gone unacknowledged within the comics for years, decades–without much concern for whether you’re on board or not.

This hasn’t damaged DC’s bottom line any–the series has still done great numbers within its core readership, and Batman’s probably gonna turn a profit as long as people are still printing superhero comics. That said, traces of Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman have been conspicuously absent from the books. (Stated inspirations for Morrison’s run include David Lynch and the ’60s TV series.) For better or for worse, these comics make few overtures to potentially curious fans of the film series.

Batman And Robin #13 has the effect of annexing Nolan’s present-day take on Batman and making it apart of Morrison’s grand scheme. There are plenty of callbacks to earlier segments of Morrison’s own run–and all sorts of dynamics between characters are inverted–but Morrison gives us glimpses of Simon Hurt’s sudden, meticulously arranged takeover of Gotham as if he’s trying to write how Christopher Nolan would direct a Grant Morrison story. In this issue, as in The Dark Night, evil moves like clockwork, and it’s everywhere at once. (We even get bazooka fire on a dim Gotham evening.) It’s not a compromise, but a strange, cool synthesis–and something we haven’t seen yet, even in a run as varied as Morrison’s.

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One Comment on “Batman And Robin #13: Bringing It All Bat Home”

  1. Nathan Says:

    This was another amazing issue. Morrison’s Batman comics keep getting more insane, and as you state the fact that this was drawn on a computer makes it more insane.

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