Batman & Robin: Batman Vs. Robin Review

One of the Grant Morrison series. A stunning and well written book makes this one of the best Batman/Dick Grayson books of the modern age. A must read for any Batman fans.

Overview

If I would have known how good the Batman & Robin series was going to be I would have purchased Batman Vs. Robin on the same day I got Batman Reborn. The dynamic between Dick as Batman and Damian as Robin was so intriguing and the artwork was so slick – it has to go down as one of my favourites. Nevertheless I did end up getting Batman Vs. Robin and couldn’t wait to finally sit down and continue the story between this odd pairing.

Batman & Robin: Batman Vs. Robin collects Batman & Robin #7-#12.

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Batman & Robin Vol. 2 Batman vs. Robin
187 Reviews
Batman & Robin Vol. 2 Batman vs. Robin
  • Batman Robin Vol 2 Batman vs Robin
  • Grant Morrison
  • Publisher: DC Comics

Batman & Robin: Batman Vs. Robin Review

Batman & Robin #7: Blackest Knight Part One: Pearly and the Pit

This is brilliant. Not sure if it’s a dream sequence or what but Batman is down in old London town fighting crime with his sidekick, Squire. It’s pretty funny to say the least as he tracks down Smooth Eddie English one of the Pearly Price’s men. It all seems to be a parody of Gotham City done in hyper exaggerated

Batman in London
Batman in London

London style complete with the accents. Even London’s version of Arkham Asylum is guarded by a Beefeater.

Now I’m not sure it is a dream sequence as Dick has Batman’s here looking for a Lazarus Pit while Damian is being treated by Talia following the horrific injuries he sustained in Batman & Robin #6. Looks pretty gruesome actually as his back has been peeled off and he’s being needled from all directions.

Batman and Squire go in search of the mine that King Coal is working on where the Lazarus Pit is apparently in and there they find Cyril (Knight) who is England’s version of Batman I presume. Batwoman’s also down here even though she doesn’t know why. Soon enough they find the Pit and apparently Bruce Wayne’s already been inside for an hour! This could finally be the return of Bruce Wayne!

What a great start! Even though I thought it was all a joke and a parody of Gotham City the book was humorously written and well drawn out just like Reborn. But the thought of reading the book where Bruce Wayne will be resurrected has got me hooked already.

Batman & Robin #8: Blackest Knight Part Two: Batman Vs. Batman

The parody continues as the gang get to grips with Mad chimney sweepers. There’s discuss of a return of a ‘dark beast’ – are they referring to Bruce? is Bruce in or am I confused?

Attention moves to a scientist makes it sound like that it isn’t the ‘real’ Bruce Wayne and they have several of them behind them in some pods, like clones.

Batman Vs. Batman
Batman Vs. Batman

Back in the pit ‘Bruce’ overpowers Squire and Batwoman so it’s up to Dick to stop him, it really doesn’t go well as an unhinged Batman gets the better of them all. Dick suspects it’s not really bruce on the count of going for the kill. Although, when you come out of the Lazarus Pit you always come out unhinged – just ask Jason Todd.

Back in the bat cave (I presume) Alfred stumbles on something, my guess is Bruce Wayne’s corpse is suddenly missing and Alfred suspects what Dick is about to try and do with it.

Batwoman is in bad shape, really bad shape after the attack by Batman (the resurrected one) sometimes it can get a bit confusing as the current Batman (Dick) and resurrected Batman (Bruce, we think) happen to be wearing the exact same Batsuit. Batwoman hatches some sort of plan even if it is left that the damage she’s sustained will at the very least make her quadriplegic.

Some good news, however is that Damian is back even if he is still out of the game. Damian spots all is not well with Alfred who comments on Dick being rash – this presumably is in relation to what he’s been up to with the Lazarus Pit. The awakened Batman heads back to the bat cave and beats up alfred before confronting a wheelchair bound Damian..

What an issue. Batman & Robin #8 was non stop action with so many events for one issue. The storyline has gotten from 0-100 in no time at all and just the idea that Bruce Wayne could be alive again keeps me reading more. Grant Morrison is doing a wonderful job here as he has done throughout Batman & Robin.

Batman & Robin #9: Blackest Knight Part Three: Broken

The plan to bring back Batwoman involves the Lazarus Pit, doesn’t she need to be dead? I’m not an expert with the Lazarus Pit with them not being featured in any of the books I’ve read so far but I was under the impression they don’t work on people who aren’t actually dead. Looks like I’m wrong anyway as Batwoman does come back with her mind intact.

Dick thinks it isn’t Bruce, and I tend to agree with him. I believe it was a clone that went mad from the entire cloning thing rather than the Lazarus Pit. Speaking of the Zombie Batman, he’s now one on one with Damian who doesn’t back down. The Zombie Batman wants to “punch his smug face” – don’t we all!

Batwoman Dead?
Batwoman Dead?

Inside the cave the resurrected Batman is more unhinged than usual as a result of the  cloning and Lazarus Pit together, he’s rambling in a broken English accent which is actually quite funny. Just as Zombie Batman terrorises Damian and almost kills him the real Batman gets back to Gotham just in time to save Damian before he and Batwoman pummel the zombie and bring him down. Dick flirts with Batwoman a bit before she leaves. At the end of the Blackest Knight Dick realises that Bruce is still alive because of what happened with the Zombie.

The Blackest Knight as both funny and exciting at the same time which is something you’d almost never say about a Batman book. Grant Morrison was superb in making this all come together in a coherent way with great pacing. I’m a little bit sad the London escapades are over as I had warmed up quite a bit to Knight and Squire but I suppose if it had carried on it would run the risk of getting repetitive. Either way, now we can hopefully start on the real search for Bruce Wayne.

Batman & Robin #10: Batman Vs. Robin Part One: The Haunting of Wayne Manor

Issue #10 of Batman & Robin sees Damian Wayne take charge over at Wayne enterprises and he’s taking charge straight away digging into some odd donations to the victims of railroad accident charity. Meanwhile, Batman goes to see Oberon Sexton to try and uncover just what is going on. A mysterious group called the Black Glove are mentioned before Dick heads off back to Wayne Manor. It looks like Dick drove a Nightwing car judging by the logo on the bonnet – can he not bring himself to drive the Batmobile?

Oberon Saves Damian
Oberon Saves Damian

Dick believes Bruce is alive and trapped in ‘omega effect’ where he is alive but trapped in time. The best detective of all the Robins Tim Drake is the one to have helped them get this far. Shame he hasn’t made a physical appearance. Anyway, Tim’s lets them know there may be some clues hidden in Wayne Manor. Mystery and investigation is one of my favourite parts of Batman books and let me tell you, this issue is PACKED with mystery and I have no problems with the pace of the book being slowed down for this.

The ‘Mexican train’ is threatening Oberon, it looks like Oberon is not willing to do what they want and decide to try and eliminate him.

Back on the mystery solving and there’s a lot of back and forth between Damian and Batman, Damian gets on better with Dick than Bruce it seems. The conversation they have makes it pretty clear Dick feels a lot towards Damian and that Damian respects Dick a lot. I had misconceptions about Damian and this issue has helped me get over them and see Damian in another light. Yes he can be a bit cocky but underneath is someone who can care about his friends and wants them all to stay together. This is heightened during a flashback with Damian during the time with Talia recovering, Talia is clearly disappointed with Damian for choosing the Bat family over her and her motley crew.

As Dick and Damian explore this hidden cave some more Damian has a mad moment where he loses control, finds a sword and if Dick hadn’t have fallen down the trap he could have been killed. Damian immediately knows his mother had something to do with it and runs off outside only to be grabbed by Oberon as Wayne Manor is surrounded, I’m assuming by the ‘Mexican Train’.

Wow, what an issue. This issue appeals to everything I love about Batman books – tense subplots and investigation. I am pleasantly surprised to learn more and more about Damian, a character I don’t really know much of. Dick Grayson as Batman is also a kinder, softer Dark Knight which gives us a different Batman book different from the vast back catalogue. Not better or worse than some of the great Batman books just different in it’s own right.

Batman & Robin #11: Batman Vs. Robin Part Two: Boneyard

We’re introduced to a new villain who looks like he is from somewhere Latin, hence the name of the issue – the Mexican Train. I can’t guess who it is or what he’s up to and I’m not sure if I should, either. His home is being raided and he’s being protected from a priest, shortly though he’s off to Gotham.

Barbatos
Barbatos

Back in the underground mystery hunt Dick and Alfred are searching deeper within Wayne Manor’s secret underground area. Dick refers to Alfred as “Alfie” which shows how much more of a friendly Batman he is as well as reminding us that he is still young, when compared to Bruce Wayne, anyway.

Outside, Oberon and Damian are surrounded. Damian still doesn’t feel right after he lost it earlier and we see why- Talia has a “spinal link” and can seemingly control him remotely. After confirming it’s working as she intended it cuts to her speaking with a shadowy figure- Is she working with Deathstroke?

Back underground, Dick is thinking what I’m thinking that Bruce must have know about this, especially after earthquake in Cataclysm. Alfred doesn’t seem agree. Dick finds a giant stalactite cut in the shape of a man bat; one of the attacking gang repeats what Alfie found about Dick’s discovery in relation to the man bat statue – both of them referring to it as “Barbados”- are they here for Bruce? Or something else?

Damian sees through Oberon’s fake accent, he is far cleverer than I first thought but “Oberon” doesn’t let up his identity. And we won’t know until the end either when it’s revealed as quite a shocker. At least it was for me, maybe someone with more Batman lore familiarity will have guessed it?

Right at the end it’s revealed that It IS Deathstroke who was lurking in the shadows with Talia al Ghul and he’s in control of Damian now and about to come face on with an emerging Dick (haha) who states he’s “found it”. What an ending!

More mystery and more intrigue make this another great issue and a fantastic book! The next issue is the final one in this fine collected edition. Can’t wait.

Batman & Robin #12: Batman Vs. Robin Part Three: Mexican train

Straight back into the action and Slade can’t help himself and leaves himself (controlling Damian) open for a hit. Both sides feel it due to the link. Dick gets the upper hand and shocks him and that’s the end of the spinal link fun for them. But there’s something about the way Deathstroke looks, less muscular.. a bit odd. Bugs me a bit.

Dick Deduces Oberon's Identity
Dick Deduces Oberon’s Identity

The 99 gang find some slab with the Bat symbol on it, which is what they were after and they flee with it. Possibly ending the hunt for Bruce for now.

After more investigating into the manor Damian, Alfred and Dick make a starting discovery before heading to see Talia about what’s been going on. She’s rude and doesn’t back down.

Dick gives Deathstroke a bit, did he really kill 100,000?! I’ll need to read that one.

Damian admits to Talia he loves being Robin alongside Bruce or not, possibly alluding to really starting to like working with Alfred and Dick, throughout the book there are glimpses of Damian really starting to enjoy and most importantly respect the relationships he’s forged in Gotham. These two books have changed my view on Damian completely, he could have anything he wanted through the League and yet he wants to fight crime with his family and friends.

Talia, though, not risking losing Damian has cloned him. They talk for a bit – Talia puts him down but Damian stands up for himself which is amazing for a 10 year old boy, then again the entire family is an extraordinary one.

The Mexican man (Domino killer) is now in town and we see him speaking with some officials, it’s clear his name is known. We finish with Dick, Damian and Alfred suspect Oberon and they go and see him, I won’t spoil it but you will never guess!

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Batman & Robin Vol. 2 Batman vs. Robin
187 Reviews
Batman & Robin Vol. 2 Batman vs. Robin
  • Batman Robin Vol 2 Batman vs Robin
  • Grant Morrison
  • Publisher: DC Comics

Summary

Fantastic book from start to finish, probably edged it over Batman Reborn. If you love the plot and intrigue then you’re going to love this. Twists and turns at every point and a lot of attention towards Damian and it’s fair to see day he shines and comes out as a great character in his own right who’s strong and stands up for himself. I’m already thinking of getting the next book already even though I was about to move on for another direction! Hmm. The next book is Batman & Robin Must Die! and unfortunately for me isn’t on my to read list and may not be for a while.

If you love Dick (heh) as Batman then this is for you.

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Last update on 2017-10-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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