Batman and Robin #1 (August, 2009)
“Batman Reborn, Part One: Domino Effect”
Writer – Grant Morrison
Art – Frank Quitely
Colors – Alex Sinclair
Letters – Patrick Brosseau
Assistant Editor – Janelle Siegel
Editor – Mike Marts
Cover Price: $2.99
As a fan of a certain age, I sometimes find myself playing that game. You know the one… where you look at a cover-date of a book… subtract it from now, and realize just how much time has passed since the thing hit shelves/the first time you read it. It’s a horrid little game, and I recommend nobody ever play it.
Well, okay… just this once. I’m sitting here pretty dumbfounded that this issue came out… a decade ago! Holy cow. I mean, it’s pre-Flashpoint, so it’s at least seven-eight years old… that much I ought to know! But seeing the date there… starin’ at me. It’s enough to make one question what they’ve done with their life!
Or maybe I’m projecting.
Also, the cover reminds me of McDonalds… maybe I’m just talkin’ out my backside at this point so let’s just get to it!
We open during Mr. Toad’s wild ride… ya see, there’s this frog-faced fella called Mr. Toad, and he’s trying to evade the Batmobile. Unfortunately for him, there have been some improvements made to the ol’ rig… for instance, it can fly now!
We hop inside the Batmobile, where Batman (Dick Grayson) is apologizing to Robin (Damian Wayne) for ever doubting the enhancements made to the car. They wind up running Mr. Toad off the road, and into the drink. Our amphibious new friend emerges from the drink holding a briefcase…
… unfortunately for him, he does this right at the feet of the new Dynamic Duo! They wallop him with their fists… which sends the contents of his briefcase flyin’ all ova da place! Turns out, the case was full of… dominoes?
When Mr. Toad wakes up, he is blindfolded and is being dangled by his ankles high above Gotham City. Well, he thinks he’s high above Gotham… he’s actually just a couple of feet off the ground. Dick tries getting some information out of him… and, while I’m not sure what this geek is muttering about, he seems to get it (we later find out that it’s “circus-speak”. He drops Toad on the dock and takes off.
We flash back to a scene at Wayne Manor. Dick and Alfred are talking about the recent passing of the Man of the House. Dick comments that he never really considered being “next in line” for the cape and cowl (despite all that Prodigal stuff). After a trip to the cemetery, Alfred assures him that Bruce is and was always proud of him.
Back to the present, and we’re at the Wayne Enterprises Building. Dick and Damian are in the down-below taking care of some Bat-Business. While Damian tinkers s’more with the Batmobile, Dick continues expressing trepidation about being Batman… and also, doing some research, while images of “ferocious” chicken and jalapeno sandwiches dance in his head. Damian notes Dick’s reluctance and offers to take up the Bat-mantle himself. Yeah, not yet kid.
As Batman and Robin head into out, we briefly check in on a Toad-hauling paddy-wagon. Mr. Toad warns the Officers that he’s got friends… and Gotham City will soon belong to them. Meanwhile, some creepy-looking people in Raggedy Ann masks emerge from a carnival tent.
We hop over to the roof of the GCPD, where Commissioner Gordon has illuminated the Bat-Signal. He is joined by a pair of incredulous Officers… they’ve lit the thing every night for months at this point, and nobody ever shows up. Well, that all changes tonight.
As Batman and Robin show up on the roof, down below a… burning man (Phosphorous Rex) arrives on the scene. Officers rush over to give him a hand (remember, he’s on fire)… and get burned out for their troubles.
We shift scenes to the tiny apartment of an immigrant family. We meet a man, who was an associate (and passenger) of Mr. Toad… who happened to get away after they were run off the road (earlier this issue). He is frantically packing and telling his daughter, Sasha that they’ve got to beat a hasty retreat. He’s escaped Batman once… and he’s not interested in tempting fate.
He is interrupted by a knocking at the door. He goes to answer it… and sees that it’s his brother (and fellow Toad-ssociate) Lev. He opens the door wider, and discovers that it’s actually those Raggedy Anns from the tent!
Next thing we know… the fellow wakes up strapped to a table. He’s approached by a man in a butcher’s smock and a grotesque Pig mask. This is Professor Pyg. He waited for the man to wake up before performing his “de-uglifying” process, during which he places a white-hot doll mask on his face. It’s an absolutely brutal-looking process.
Ya see, Pyg sees his doll-faced army as being the embodiment of “perfection”… which might tell ya just a little bit about how twisted this guy is.
What’s more… he ain’t done yet! He tells the fella that his daughter, Sasha… is next! Oh, and also… that he’s going to assist with the “perfecting” process!
Pretty excellent first outing here!
This was one I recall being excited for back in… ye old 2009. I loved the idea of the Batman and Robin dynamic to be sorta turned on its ear. Having a super-serious Robin in Damian alongside a more lighthearted Batman in Dick was definitely something I was ready for… and it delivered. Rather than being a student-teacher, or superior-subordinate relationship… these are two fellas learning their way… together. Damian as a hero, and Dick as the hero.
Professor Pyg is one of the only villains in comics that actually kinda makes my skin crawl. This is a creepy and twisted dude. There’s that saying that the best bad guys actually believe themselves to be good guys. Here, we have Pyg trying to impose his version of “perfection” on people… he truly believes he’s bringing people to their “best possible form”.
It’s a visceral, brutal… and permanent change, and somehow, despite only knowing Sasha Whatsherface for like two pages, we fear for her! It’s some pretty great work. Speaking of great work, I can’t believe we’re one-thousand and seventy-five days into this blog… and we’ve never featured Frank Quitely! The sheer terror on Sasha’s face really tells the tale here… a truly excellent (and horrifying) scene!
Really, this was a top-flight book. Excellent production all around… really feels like the “standard bearer” for DC Comics at the time. Suppose I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t kvetch about the Morrison Bat-Epic being derailed by the cosmic toilet flush that was The New-52!, right? Of course, if we were to go by DC’s official stance, the reboot was already well in the planning stages by this point anyway. Ahem… of course.
Overall, this is one I’d certainly recommend checking out… probably best read in trade form (aren’t they all this side of 2000?). Available digitally.
(Not the) Letters Page: