Thursday, 12 November 2009

Batman and Robin #6 review

So when was the last time you saw a pink cover on a Batman book? Probably never. Expect this issue to score highly in the little girl market. It's just a shame no one thought to make a glitter variant.

I bet new villain the Flamingo loves glitter, mincing matador that he is - the man's named after a gay club in Blackpool, for crying out (very) loud. Robin isn't slow to note the guy's flamboyance, but he pays for it. The Flamingo proves a match not only for Damian, but Red Hood, Scarlet and even Batman. One unknown guy doing so well against two seasoned veterans, a kid assassin and a crazed wee girl? Some might argue against the possibility, but given he's just been introduced by writer Grant Morrison there's no reason to think Flamingo can't beat the snot out of them - his origins are unknown, his limits undefined. It's safe to say his threat level is down by issue's end, but not before he inflicts serious damage on some of his foes.

Powerful as the fight scenes are, the real meat of this issue is the talk between Dick and Jason, as the former tries to persuade the latter to come back into the Bat-fold, accept some help. Jason, of course, has a few things of his own to say, things that look set to culminate in next issue's Blackest Knight (sic, and most likely sick) sequence.

I liked the way Scarlet's plight opened the cold hearts of our two twisted Robins, Damian and Jason; the girl's been to hell and they see no sign of her getting back, no matter how much she pleads for the agony to end. When it comes, the fate of Red Hood's sidekick is both surprising and satisfying.

It was also wonderful to have Jason's wacko journey in Countdown referenced - it all happened, dammit! Plus, we see just what a terrible bunch the good citizens of Gotham City are when, irony alert, Jason offers them a phone vote.

Other than his preference for pink, do we learn why Flamingo is so called? Nope, though there is a clever panel in which penciller Philip Tan and inker Jonathan Glapion have him look like a beaky winged guy while brandishing his whip (click to enlarge): It's one of the standout artistic moments this issue, in which the finishes vary between sharp and rough, seemingly at random. Unusual close-ups are used to convey the terror of Scarlet, and the madness of Flamingo, while Batman has determination without the Bruce Wayne grimness, Damian looks like the little kid he is and Jason has just the right lost soul quality. It's an all-round better art job than we had last month, with none of the storytelling problems.

That's the three-part Revenge of the Red Hood over, and it didn't go where I expected to - I thought Jason would get away, to return in three months with yet another new costume and MO, but there's real reason to hope the poor, abused sod will yet find his lost sanity. Right now he may disagree, but that's a win.

9 comments:

  1. This is my first time visiting this site. I like the look and your approach. I just added you to my blogroll over at The Defenders Fansite: www.defendersfan.blogspot.com

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  2. Hi James, nice to 'meet' you. Look forward to checking your site out!

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  3. The Bat symbol on the cover, with the pink writing on it, looks like an homage to the penguin, with a pink twist. I wonder if that was intentional?

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  4. Great review.

    I agree that the best stuff here was the discussions between the various Robins. This was the most sympathy I have felt for Jason Todd as you sense that he is swirling in his own chaos.

    I also thought the 'call in' gag at beginning of the issue was a nice little homage to Jason's original death.

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  5. There was so much "Death in the Family" in this book. The phone vote, and watch the scene where it zooms in on Flamingo's face during Robin's paralysis scene. Plus the big explosion. Morrison is saying something here.

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  6. Fudgefase, I if I had to guess I'd say the current masthead is based on this early Seventies logo: http://www.comics.org/issue/24205/cover/4/?style=default

    Anyone else?

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  7. Anj, it really made me feel sad for Ace Jase - I hate that he was revived, but I hate that he was killed. Now he's a redhead again, he's become the original Jason rather than the rebooted brat, I can't help geeling his pain. It's as if he has some metafictive idea of what the creatives of Death in the Family did to him.

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  8. Jeff, great spots. I thought Flamingo was a bit Joker-grinny but now you say it, the references do seem direct.

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  9. I was spooked by Flamingo's grunts and lack of speaking. I do like seeing new characters that can actually hold their own against the bat-team.

    The art was wildly inconsistent, you are right.

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