Friday, February 8, 2013

Batman and Robin Annual #1

Is this actually going to be an annual for the sake of an annual? No crossover? No continuing story?

[Edit after reading: This is one of those annuals that deserves to be purchased. If you've been curious about Batman and Robin but haven't been sure, I highly recommend picking this up instead of reading my horrible synopsis of such a loving portrayal of Bruce, Damian, and Alfred. Peter Tomasi has been treating these characters right.]

I would think DC would have dropped "The New 52" label about a year into the project because it's all they're publishing anyway, right? Even the Earth One books are technically New 52 stuff because they take place on one of the New 52 Earths, right? The only reason I can see for DC keeping "The New 52" label on their books is if they're planning on bringing back the old universe in some format, side by side with The New 52 universe. I have a feeling old universe stories will begin trickling in at some point, perhaps one shots in prestige format. Those books will test the waters to see how many fans are willing to return to DC with the old versions of their heroes. If they're successful, DC will put out a handful of monthly comic books without the New 52 label. Or if they're really ballsy, they'll just make one of the New 52 worlds the old universe and incorporate the old universe into The New 52 titles. They really should try that. Hawkman failed spectacularly? Fuck it! Make Earth 47 the Old Universe. Put out a new Hawkman title based in Earth 47 and just make him old history Hawkman. But DC can still fuck with it enough to not include any stories or history that might cause them legal issues. That's easy enough through exclusion. Just don't mention those things one way or the other and fans can simply assume they're still part of Hawkman's canon.

Although, seriously, I wasn't really thrilled with Old Style Hawkman either.

I'm more interested in a stand alone Batman and Robin story than the old Hawkman, but not by much. Non-crossover annuals (you know? The real kind!) tend to inhabit that weird space where they don't feel like part of the actual title because they're meant to be an introduction to curious readers or to spotlight new talent. But this issue is written by Tomasi who writes the regular issues and the art is by ex-Batgirl artist Ardian Syaf and Turds of Prey inker Vicente Cifuentes. So no new names. Looks like this artist team worked on Red Lanterns #0 and possibly some Batgirl titles together. I didn't do my research that diligently!

But it appears Damian has!

Yay! Bruce Wayne is going to go on a scavenger hunt! Although he's The Goddamned Dark Knight Detective so how fucking hard is a scavenger hunt put together by an eleven year old going to be? Damian's list will probably be things like "Punch a homeless person in the genitals" and "Shoot a Squirrel with a BB Gun" and "Piss on a Beefeater." Man, I hope that's what it'll be like!

And then there are the kind of annuals that are just fun to read. Thank you, Mr. Tomasi! This has already made me laugh!

Meanwhile not in London, Damian has remained in Gotham City to play Batman now that he's gotten rid of the grown ups! Figure that one out, Batdumbdumb! The first crime Tiny Batman goes to investigate is a robbery at a gas station. Some thing chewed off the nozzles and sucked up all of the gas.

Aha! A clue as to how insurance companies survive in Gotham! Looks like they have decent rates until you're a victim of a superhuman crime. And then POWIE! Your monthly rate goes through the fucking ceiling.

Back in London at the hotel Damian set them up in, Bruce and Alfred discover a still life painting by Martha Wayne with little Bruce's hand print on it. Thomas Wayne paid the hotel a large sum of money to leave it hanging in the lobby. Bruce never knew his mother had painted anything and now the hotel was giving this painting to him. Looks like Damian did his research very well. Or he paid off a bunch of people to fake up a bunch of old history! Oh, that was cynical of me. I'm sure Damian wouldn't do that simply to play around as Batman in Gotham City for a few days.

Later that night, Damian Skypes with Batman. I'm pretty sure Damian just blew his whole game though because he stands in front of a green screen so Bruce thinks Damian is at the next location. But even people who aren't anywhere close to being the best detective in the world can tell when someone is standing in front of a green screen! Stupid kid! He probably knows the concept of the green screen but, having probably never watched television in his life, doesn't realize how poorly it actually does what it's supposed to do.

Or maybe not. Perhaps Damian has superior Wayne Tech Green Screen Technology.

It's nice to see Alfred and Bruce just being Alfred and Bruce. Since the Kents are dead in The New 52, I don't know that there's a more intimate, longer standing relationship than the one between these two men. Bruce decides to let Alfred remain in London while he heads to Barcelona for Damian's next surprise. Bruce enjoyed finding the painting but it wasn't a punch to a homeless person's genitals, so I'm hoping for better in Barcelona.

Back in Gotham, Damian is out driving the Batmobile and stopping muggings when the Bat Signal lights up the sky. It doesn't take Gordon long to realize he's talking to Robin which is when Damian takes off to continue his investigation on the gas eater. I think Batman is going to be a little bit annoyed with all the explaining he's going to have to do when he gets back in town. Whatever is in Barcelona had better be worth it.

The reason Bruce is in Barcelona.

Batman's next and final stop is in Greece. Which means Damian has one more night as Batman to solve the mystery gas eater. Which he does. And it mirrors the beginning of the comic book which I didn't describe exactly. When the issue began, Batman caught a kid in a proto-type firebug suit and left him for the cops. Now Damian is busting the kid's dad in the real firebug suit and leaving him for the cops. Meanwhile in Greece, Batman finds a stone etched with the message "Martha, will you marry me? Thomas." And then it's time to meet Damian back at the hotel in London and ground the fuck out of him!

Ha ha! I knew the green screen would be Damian's undoing! Well done, Tomasi!

Batman and Robin Annual #1 Rating: I wasn't too excited about reading another annual but this one was really fun stuff. It was a true comic book's comic book! It's always nice to read a one issue story that simply has fun with the characters. Good stuff.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, looks like you finally found a book that even your sarcastic gimmick didn't want to brow beat. This actually looks pretty damn decent, and it's to see Bruce finally show his only fucking son some love and attention, not to mention not talking shit to him to either. Wish all the NuShit 52 books were as good and and well-put together as this.