Summary from Goodreads:
The talents responsible for some of Batman’s greatest tales, Frank Miller (BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, Sin City) and Jim Lee (BATMAN: HUSH) team up for the first time to bring you Batman and Robin like you’ve never seen them before in this reinvention of these classic characters.
All hell breaks loose at the circus as Bruce Wayne and gal pal Vicki Vale witness a young boy’s life shattered before their eyes. Orphaned, Dick Grayson has nowhere to go and no one to turn to — no one but Bruce Wayne! Expect action, adventure, guest-stars and the unexpected as Miller and Lee deliver the ultimate tales of the Dynamic Duo!
“What, are you dense? Are you retarded or something? Who the hell do you think I am? I’m the goddamn Batman!”
It is safe to say, this version of Batman is not the one we all know and love. As a matter of fact, as Frank Miller so eloquently puts it, he is not Batman. He is the Goddamn Batman (Be mindful of this but the ‘Goddamn Batman’ line or some variation of it, is used quite frequently in this book, so every now and then, I might utilize it as joke of sorts. You have been warned…Goddamn).
I am all for new takes on old characters, and Batman happens to be one of the oldest of the popular line of comic characters (this list is composed of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Spider-Man. Teams do not count). And who better to re-imagine Batman for a new generation then Frank Miller, the literary genius behind ‘The Dark Knight Returns’. His work on ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ is what helped to make Batman relevant to the generation of comic book readers in the 80’s. Batman needed a fresh look and although that fresh look happened to make Batman grizzled and old, he still was given an extra layer of complexity and intrigue on top of what already exists Gotham City’s Dark Avenger (If you don’t believe me, go ahead and read my review of the Dark Knight Returns). However, it would seem lightning cannot strike twice as All Star Batman just fell short of expectations. Perhaps that is a gross understatement; it god damn backfired.
In this take of Batman and Robin, Frank Miller utilized gratuitous amounts of sexuality and violence to differentiate this version of Batman from his own or from other iterations. I might want to mention that this Batman is non canon, meaning he is a part of his own universe. This is an origins tale of how Batman came to have Dick Grayson, aka Robin, as his ward. I had high hopes for this book since I am a huge fan of Frank Miller’s work (300, Sin City, Daredevil, Dark Knight Returns), but to amp up the sex, violence and language in a shock and awe tactic….very tasteless. I was left shaking my head at many panels because of how Batman happened to be portrayed. He was a rude, brutish and heartless bastard, as evident by the opening quote of my review. That line was uttered by Batman to Robin. Please, let me know if I missed something but as far as I remember, Batman never talked to Robin that way in any other way he has been portrayed. I am all for taking a creative license with characters, but to so blatantly deviate from what has always been portrayed as the essence of a character is something I take issue with. The opening pages of the first issue of this series featured a scantly clad Vickie Vale and an up close shot of her …ahem…assets. From that moment on, things were not right with Gotham City. I am all for sex. I am all for violence. I am all for sex and violence god damn it….but everything has its place and things are to be used in moderation. All these elements were just used at Miller’s leisure and for the sake of being edgy and different. The Frank Miller I know does not try to do something just for the sake of shock and awe, he does something because it will make for a better story. This was not that better story.
But all hope was not lost! Oh me of little faith….it was pretty to look at. Jim Lee provided the artwork and if any of you are aware of Jim Lee (or happened to look at the picture provided above, you can understand the immaculate detail put into the story. The characters were not exaggerated and drawn realistically, whilst also having a dark and rough feel to them. This was the best aspect to an otherwise dismal book, god damn it.
I had high hopes for this book but it would seem the only thing high was Frank Miller himself. If you want to be offended by Batman, read this book. Otherwise, go pick up All Star Superman.