I have not done a review of a comic book in half-of-forever. I know that there are some “snobby geeks” out there who disdain comic books (or are more selective and merely disdain superhero comic books) arguing that they are not literature. Well, the thing that I want to insist upon is that no, not all comic books are literature, however, what DC Comics has done in the Bat-titles in “The New 52” has definitely been literature. Since the #1 issues in Detective Comics and Batman, DC Comics writers (Scott Snyder, Kyle Higgins, Peter J. Tomasi, and Tony Daniel) have created an epic-story that really deserves all the praise that people have been heaping upon it. (And, the obnoxious writer of the DC stable, Grant Morrison, has rather stalled out in his titles…)
This review is about Batman and Robin #9. It’s somewhat of a standalone issue focusing entirely on Robin (the Damian Wayne incarnation). This issue is, however, entirely connected to the Night of the Owls storyline that has been running through the Bat-titles since their first issues. This epic Court of Owls/Night of the Owls storyline is huge and has been done expertly. The writers have, as a whole, really outdone themselves and, I think, given readers a solid example of how and why comics can, indeed, be literature. Yeah, the whole thing spans (I approximate here) 25 issues or so for the full-impact of the story. A reader could conceivably narrow it all down to just the Batman and Detective Comics titles, but I think that would weaken the scope of what the writers have done. In any case, I am not going to get into a lengthy exposition on the Owls epic. I do encourage readers to consider this stuff, though – it’s really worth it (though it may be a pain in the rear to collect all of the issues.)
Anyway, Batman and Robin #9 is a really awesome issue. I have actually been surprised at how much I have liked this particular title since The New 52 began. I loved the first arc (the ramifications will definitely continue throughout future issues) because it explored the relationship between Bruce Wayne and his son – in both a father/son perspective as well as a Batman/Robin perspective.
Issue #9 ties into the Night of the Owls storyarc. Let us simply say that Robin is dispatched, by Alfred, to protect a target from a villain. The Court of Owls have sent assassins out to kill nearly 40 Gotham leaders and Alfred sends Robin to protect Major General Benjamin Burrows of the 52nd – who commands nearly 15,000 troops.
I love more or less everything about this issue. The title of the issue is Robin Hears a Hoo – which is fun because it plays on the Owls storyline and Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss and Batman? Always a win. And look at this cover because it was done by Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, and John Kalisz. It is beautiful. The perspective is perfect – Robin is a little kid, you know. The coloring is perfect. The whole composition shows action, depth, no clutter or unnecessary busyness, and an ominous villain. Perfect.
Inside, the issue contains non-confusing artwork, clean framing, and excellent coloring. I like how it really feels like we are on a nighttime training exercise in a misty forest. I like how Robin solves the difficulties he runs into. I also love the scenes where the writer shows us that Robin is not just a stupid punk kid – but is also highly-trained and intelligent. I like how the soldiers react and function. I also like how this issue gives deeper insight into the total backstory and connection to the Court of Owls. There is not much to dislike about this issue. It is precisely the kind of issue that comic book fans can collect, enjoy, and happily spend $2.99 on. And $2.99 is a bargain for the quality this issue delivers.
Batman isn’t in this issue. And he really does not have to be: Robin carries this issue all by himself. And the issue is good.