He has time after time redefined comic titles, whether it be the X-men, Superman or Batman. He did it with Bruce Wayne, and now he gets a chance to do it with the newest Batman, Dick Grayson.
It’s always a joy to see Morrison and artist Frank Quietly together doing a comic. Their styles both seem to complement one another so well and I’m used to it by now thanks to All Star Superman and New X-Men. I would rank them right up there with artist/writer combos Bendis and Maleev, Brubaker and Lark or Waid and Wieringo.
As many of you know, Bruce Wayne at this point in time was missing. So naturally his inheritor to the cowl came in the form of his former Robin and protegé Dick Grayson. Robin’s shoes are still being filled by Damien, the son of Talia Al’ghul and Bruce Wayne, at this point. Dick and Damian have a very strained relationship throughout the trade, Damian believing himself superior to Grayson and always questioning his orders. Basically the kid is a little shithead. But most would be if they were raised by assassins and trained to kill most of their childhood.
The first arc deals with the new duo just entering their partnership and getting acquainted with Commissioner Gordon whilst also facing a new villain introduced in Batman #666: Professor Pyg and his Circus of the Strange henchmen. Yes the professor’s name may sound idiotic but the truth is that he is one of the most refreshing villains to come around on the Gotham rogue scene in quite sometime. If you don’t believe me take a look at my colleague Dr. Kronner’s assessment of him in his Top Gotham Villains rundown. He is absolute sicko scumbag, which is good when enjoying a Bat-villain.
After dealing with Pyg and his hideous Dollotrons, the next story presents two vigilantes dealing out merciless justice to Gotham’s mean streets. No, I’m not referring to Batman and Robin when I say this. It is actually an appearance by our old buddy Jason Todd aka the Red Hood. Now I’m not a huge fan of Jason Todd, but that’s mainly because of Judd Winick’s own personal fantasy of bringing him back. But I suppose if I look at it from the light of how good of a villain he is, the Red Hood is not so bad. It was fun to see a confrontation between two former Robins and the current one, and hopefully we get to see a more prolonged one in future stories.
So basically we have the Red Hood and his sidekick Scarlet taking to the streets and taking criminals out of commission permanently and that drives the various crime bosses to employ the services of a skilled killer called The Flamingo. The Flamingo looks utterly ridiculous but it is proven that he isn’t one to be taken lightly in a fight between the Hood with Batman and Robin in the middle.
Overall I have to give this graphic novel a 4.5 out of 5 grizzlies. It’s a fresh new take on the caped crusader and the boy wonder, and Morrison executes it perfectly. The art was of course exceptional even though the second half was noticeably lacking Frank Quietly and suffered a bit from what looked like three different artists finishing the story arc.