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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Monday, February 2, 2009

All-Star Batman Vol 1

Last September...

"Hey, Tony, do you have that dirty Batman comic?"

Sigh. It was Pervy McPeterson, the neighbor we don't like to talk about. There must have been a link to a news story about DC's All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder #10 on one of the sites Pervy frequents and, unfortunately, I'm the "go to" guy when it comes to all things comics in my town.

I had to disappoint Pervy. I hadn't seen the issue in either its original or "corrected" form and my response to the news items I'd read about the comic book consisted largely of rolling my eyes, followed by heavy sighs that DC Comics was going that route again. However, I did read the hardcover All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder Volume One [$24.99] and can weigh in on that.

The hardcover book reprints the first nine issues of the Frank Miller/Jim Lee series, their retelling of how the Batman met and recruited Robin to be his sidekick...except it's more how Batman kidnapped and then tortured Dick Grayson.

What a sad, sad book.

The overwhelming force at work here is that the DC editorial powers that be are what I will euphemistically call "star lovers." Frank Miller is a star...and a "Hollywood" star, no less...and Jim Lee is a star...and if the two of them wanted to eat a live baby and could figure out how to put it between covers than DC Comics would be thrilled to publish it. Never mind that Batman and Robin have been much beloved characters for seven decades. Never mind their audience includes children. Never mind their images have been known to appear on children's underwear which, in these dark times, takes the creepy factor to a whole new level.

Look, there is no denying Miller is a heck of a writer and Lee is a heck of an artist. If you want to deem them among the finest comics creators of our time, I wouldn't question the designation at all. They're good, really good, which makes this mean-spirited and sleazy series all the worse.

Miller and Lee have taken beloved classic characters and made them unlikeable and even repugnant. They pander to the sex-and-violence fantasies of their readers. I don't object to the sex-and-violence in general. I object to it in the specific. This is not a Batman and Robin comic DC should be publishing. It demeans the characters. It sacrifices them to the drooling unwashed. It lowers them to the misanthropic, misogynist standards of Hollywood. It does a great disservice to the heritage and the future of these classic comics characters.

And we can expect more of the same.

With the success of The Dark Knight movie, the editorial marching orders have been given. The DC heroes will become even darker than they have become in recent years, though it's difficult to imagine anything darker than Wonder Dog eviscerating Wendy and Marvin...as seen in a recent edition of one of the countless crappy Titans and Teen Titans books the company is currently publishing.

There are those of us who believe super-heroes should, for the most part, be symbols of hope and humanity and justice. That they are most properly used to inspire our own better angels and help us discover the heroes within us. Then there's the current editorial management of DC Comics.

DC has gone "dark" before. Its sales dropped. Maybe that's of little concern to those who consider comics nothing more than cheap R&D for Hollywood. To me, it shows something else.

It shows a simpering self-loathing from creators and editors who, all things considered, would rather be doing something other than making great comic books...and it shows an abject failure of imagination. Like the stupid males in the creaky romance comics DC used to publish, they chase that flashy Hollywood tramp instead of the kind and smart girl who lives next door. Because they are too foolish to know what endures. Because they are too shallow to know what's real.

All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder Volume One gets no Tonys from me. Not a one.

No Tonys

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 01/30/2009 | 02/02/2009 | 02/03/2009 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined and view my Amazon Wish List.

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THE "TONY" SCALE

Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

Tony
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TonyTony
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

TonyTonyTony
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

TonyTonyTonyTony
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

TonyTonyTonyTonyTony
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.



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