TEC 1000 Celebration: Why Batman & Robin by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely is my Favourite Batman story ever!
So it’s finally happened. Detective Comics sees its 1000th issue released today, and in celebration of such a huge milestone for both DC Comics (named after the series itself) and the Caped Crusader (who made his debut in its 27th issue back in May 1939), we here at On Comics Ground are coming together to share our favourite Batman stories!
So what is my favourite tale of the World’s Greatest Detective? Simple, it’s the series where someone other than said detective was the Dark Knight! My favourite Batman story (or series) of all time is Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely’s Batman and Robin series, published from June 3rd, 2009 to August 10th, 2011). This series saw a new Dynamic Duo rise to defend Gotham City and instill fear into the hearts of criminals, with original Robin, former Nightwing, Dick Grayson taking over the mantle of Batman, and the then-recently discovered son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, Damian Wayne, stepping into the role of Robin the Boy Wonder, after the apparent death of Bruce Wayne (he wasn’t, only sent backward through time).
The series served as both a modern-day retelling of the goofy-adventures Batman and Robin would get into in the Golden Age, but filtered through a darker, edgier mirror. Even the dynamic between the duo was reversed, with Dick continuing to be his usually-cheery, friendly self, and Damian the angrier, more solitude-driven soul. Now it was Batman that needed to hold Robin back, and keep the latter from crossing the line into becoming a killer, instead of the other way around!
Morrison’s writing and Frank Quitely’s art created wonderful chemistry between Dick and Damian, forming a spiritual brotherhood the two have shared to this very day (amnesiac plot-points notwithstanding), as Dick tried to be a positive influence on a kid raised to be the heir of Ra’s Al Ghul, and Damian struggled to accept Dick’s friendship, and Dick’s decision to wear the cowl. Both made each other better, as the best partnerships not only in comics, but in fiction, and life itself, often do!
Dick and Damian were not the only highlights of this series though, as any Batman & Robin comic must also have worthy foes for Gotham’s guardians to fight. And this series provided several iconic new foes for Batman’s rogues’ gallery, reappearing years after Bruce Wayne returned to the role. Such nemesis as Dr. Simon Hurt, a sadistic psychologist who may be the Devil himself, the assassin Flamingo, whose pink suits can’t distract from his habit of eating his victim’s faces, and the most delusional of all, Professor Pyg. All three were designed and written so well, with Pyg’s drug-fueled ramblings being particularly terrifying for me to read.
The best part of this series though? The overall energy it brought to the rest of the Bat-line, as in the wake of Bruce’s death, not only did Dick and Damian take on new roles, but so did Stephanie Brown (becoming Batgirl) and the previous Robin, Tim Drake, took on the moniker of Red Robin. Both the Batgirl and Red Robin series were fantastic to read, and reading Batman & Robin always reminds me of how bright and different the entire Bat-line was, in those last few years of DC continuity before The New 52 reboot in September of 2011.
Between the snark of Dick Grayson wearing the Bat-Cowl, he and Damian leaping down from the flying Batmobile, the terrifying hordes of Pyg’s brainwashed-hostages-turned-Doll-o-Trons, and the growing mystery of what actually happened to Bruce Wayne, I loved every bit of this series. It showed me just how powerful and inspiring a Batman fueled not by loss, but driven by hope, could really be.