Review: Batman and Robin #5

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Morrison has generally been quite clear, over the years, about his opinion on the grim ‘n gritty anti-hero that has so pervaded comics in recent years.  It isn’t a trend towards which he’s shown very much respect, largely because, ultimately, there’s no way to maintain it.  Escalation leads to escalation, but in a medium that cannot abide true and lasting change, the escalation rings hollow – supporting characters are created solely to die, but we all know the A/B-listers are safe and always will be.  “Revenge of the Red Hood” displays this premise in short order as, only a single issue after Red Hood burst onto Gotham’s crimefighting scene with catchy ‘cool’ slogans and a sidekick with a tragic past, the escalation begins to go past what even Gotham is comfortable with.

Tan remains a surprisingly good fit for the book.  While his design leaves something to be desired after seeing some of Quitely’s more inspired work in the first three issues, the grim, oppressive atmosphere so natural to Tan’s art fits Morrison’s story perfectly.  There are a few points during which I felt Tan failed, most notably with the (SPOILER) reveal that Red Hood was Jason Todd, since he looked about 10-20 years older than Jason Todd, and with all of Jason Blood’s features (END).  Despite the occasional slip-up, however, Tan’s clear, dark art makes for an excellent contrast from the circus of villains the first arc provided.

Batman and Robin remains a remarkably strong title.  This issue sees Morrison keep his promise to use the title to create a new host of chilling Bat-villains and reinvigorate one of comics most well-known (and increasingly overused) rogues’ galleries with the late-game introduction of Eduardo Flamingo, the King of Killers.  Morrison largely eschews the slow-boil continuity-rich mystery that so pervaded his Batman run in favor of a wonderfully straightforward, undeniably clever action comic.

Grade: A-

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Batman and Robin #4

Batman and Robin #3