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A New Era

June 27, 2009

With Batman: Battle for the Cowl behind us, it’s time for Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne to shine as the new Batman and Robin.  In the flagship title for the Batman franchise revamp, written by Grant Morrison, the new Dynamic Duo chases after a mysterious villain, named Mr. Toad, and two henchmen, in the brand new, flying Batmobile.  Mr. Toad seems to have stolen a suitcase full of dominoes for reasons that have not yet entirely been revealed.  Of course, they manage to catch him.  Then, Dick spends time trying to figure out what he wanted the tiles for, and Damian spends time being cranky and arrogant while fixing the Batmobile.  Then, when Commissioner Gordon sets up the Batsignal again, the two of them arrive in fantastic fashion.  Meanwhile, one of the two henchmen suddenly finds himself being paid a house visit by Professor Pyg, a creepy new villain who is a part of the Circus of the Strange (like Mr. Toad) who bonds some kind of flesh-like mask to people’s faces as a part of “beautifying” them and brainwashing them into his servants.

I have to say, even though I found Grant Morrison’s run on Batman to be often odd and a rehash of previous material, this issue was absolutely spectacular.  It hits all the right points with the interaction between Dick and Damian, and that core dynamic is what is most important in this title.  After all, remember what the title is.  I also like the feel of the new villains.  In particular, Professor Pyg is really dementedly frightening in the same way that a lot of Batman’s villains are.  He’s definitely a good new villain, and that makes me happy, since there are so few new villains these days.  The only series that consistently creates new villains is Secret Six, and that’s because Gail Simone is just so twisted.  But I definitely feel that same kind of twisted coming from Pyg.  Now, the weak point in this issue is the art.  Frank Quitely draws possibly the ugliest faces I have ever seen in comic books.  Even at his best, they still look pretty freaky, and the facial outlines are too rough.  However, he’s very good at drawing things or non-living objects, like the Batmobile.  The new way of incorporating onomatopoeia that he and Morrison came up with is also quite interesting.  I’m not sure if I like it yet, but I don’t dislike it.  This is an exciting new series that definitely deserves to be the flagship title of the new Batman franchise.  I only wish that Frank Quitely weren’t the artist.  Then it would be perfect.

Plot: 9.4      Art: 7.9      Dialogue: 9.3     Overall: 9.0

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