Comic Book: All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder
A.K.A. The Goddamn Batman and Dick Grayson, Age Twelve
The original All-Star DC Comics
title, and one of the most memetic
comic books of the last decade—although, as the page quote shows, not quite in a positive way. Ran from 2005 until 2008. When DC announced the book it was widely anticipated as Frank Miller
's return to the site of two of his greatest books - Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
and Batman: Year One
, this time with the tale of Robin's origin, and illustrated by Jim Lee. The story that fans got, though... well, let's just say it wasn't what anybody expected.
The series was infamous for, among other things, having an erratic release schedule
. After the run came to an end, it was announced in 2010 that Frank Miller would write a Continuity Reboot
called Dark Knight: Boy Wonder
that would go on for 6 issues and compile the story that he wanted to tell originally
. Half a decade later, there's still no word on when exactly this series will arrive.
This goddamn comic provides examples of:
- Ascended Meme: Starting with Issue 6, Frank started slipping in references to "the Goddamn Batman". Well, less "slip" and more "spraypaint 'goddamn' all over the goddamn place".
- Author Appeal: Some of the more hostile criticisms regarding All Star Batman and Robin claim that the whole thing was used by Miller to vicariously live out his personal Batman fantasy; citing the disregard for Batman's moral code (especially during the scene where he rescues Robin from corrupt cops; never mind that he takes pleasure in harming them; but also nearly kills both Alfred and Vicki Vale in the process), the over-the top fan service, as well as his less than flattering portrayals of most of the other Justice League (particularly Superman and Green Lantern).
- Author Avatar: It's pretty clear that the Goddamn Batman is how Miller sees himself if he were Batman.
- Character Development: Batman starts out completely insane and isolated but is slowly becoming more human thanks to the influence of Dick Grayson (age 12). Not very noticeable due to the large amount of padding but it's definitely there.
- Miller himself has stated that this was the entire point: to explain why Batman needed a kid sidekick, anyway—to bring him back down to earth after a period of having too much fun with his crime-fighting.
- Continuity Nod: There are several to other Dark Knight Universe stories.
- DKR's Battank being built in the Batcave.
- The Batcave is full of these. Besides the aforementioned Bat-Tank, there are:
- The Bat-Glider from Batman: Year One,
- The Bat-Copter from The Dark Knight Returns,
- The Bat-Shield Batmobile,
- The 60s Show Batmobile,
- And the Batwing from the 'Hush' storyline, also pencilled by Jim Lee.
- Joker's henchgirl Bruno and Batman saying the We have to be Criminals line.
- Also, Batman's character is identical to Frank Miller's in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, save for him being 20-30 years younger. When TDKR came out, the story seemed to imply it was the decades of superheroing that turned Batman into this sour, cynical person. This story retcons that into Batman having started out as more of a jerkass than in TDKR and growing more noble, responsible and humane as he grew old, probably thanks to Dick Grayson Age Twelve's influence.
- This is a bit ironic if you consider that Grayson is revealed to be a complete psychopath in TDKSA. During their climatic battle, he implies that Bruce's negligence and lack of affection drove him insane. Miller's Batman predictably scoffs and pushes him into hot lava.
- A subtle one is on the cover of the first issue, with Batman swinging over Gotham. His face is blacked out with only his eyes visible, similar to the covers for The Dark Knight Returns collected editions.
- Gordon's story about taking a baseball bat to Flass occurs in Batman: Year One, though not the way he makes it sound.
- Continuity Snarl:
- Even at his most pumped up, no holds barred, extreme moment in The Dark Knight Returns, Batman couldn't bring himself to kill the Joker. In All Star Batman he killed crooked cops without hesitation.
- Batman rants to Robin about how he can call his "Batmobile" whatever he wants. In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Batman muses that it was Robin who came up with the term.
- Cluster F-Bomb / Sir Swears-a-Lot: Almost every character talks like this, even the 15 year-old Batgirl. Especially the 15 year-old fucking Batgirl.
- Crapsack World: Usually true in a Batman story, but much much more so here.
- Darker and Edgier: Attempted (maybe parodied?) throughout the series, though the worst has to be the scowling, humorless hitman now claiming his people have sarcastically nicknamed him the Joker.
"They call me the Joker. But I'm not very funny."
- A Day in the Limelight: Issue 10 is mostly done from Lt. Jim Gordon's point of view.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Very often throughout the text. Again and again. There is repetition. Statements are made. Hammered. Insistent. Again and again. Relentless. Tireless. Again and again.note
- Freudian Excuse: Dick Grayson's evil in The Dark Knight Strikes Again is so understandable now.
- Gosh Dangit To Heck: Since Superman and the Green Lantern are boy scouts compared to everyone else, their dialogue comes off as even sillier than the Cluster F Bombs. Although Superman's only line in his first few appearances is "DAMN!"
- In Name Only: Pretty much everyone is insanely Out of Character, but Black Canary is given an entirely new back story and motivation, turning from a Legacy Character of her mother into an Irish immigrant from a large family working at a sleazy bar, who was inspired into crime-fighting (and, well, crime) by Batman.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Batman and Black Canary. Batgirl and Robin are Heroic Comedic Sociopaths-in-training.
- Hotter and Sexier: Much more blatant Fanservice than is usual in comic books, including a beautifully drawn make-out session in the rain between costumed Black Canary and Batman ("The costumes make it better" line might be a reference to Watchmen: we refer the reader to that book's page for the explanation of why this is so: suffice to say, it's not simply a fetish).
- Insistent Terminology: The series makes sure you know Dick is 12 years old.
- Jerkass: Everybody but Superman, Alfred and Robin is some kind of a jerkass.
- Given that Robin nearly murders Hal Jordan at one point... you can probably put him on the Jerkass list too. Though to be fair, this was a 12 year old boy who'd just watched his parents get murdered, kidnapped by a belligerent man-child dressed like a giant bat who tells him he's going to be a 'detective', and forced to live in a cave where he's told to eat cave-dwelling rodents. His attempt to murder Hal could be seen as the reaction of a severely traumatized teen.
- Lingerie Scene: Vicki Vale's first appearance is three pages of her parading around her apartment in pink lingeries and high heels. Doubles as Hello Boys.
- Some editions feature Miller's script for this scene, which gets pretty disturbing as he goes on and on about how detailed her underwear should be, and even calls himself shameless when he asks for a closeup of her ass.
- Male Gaze:
- Ms. Fanservice: Vicki Vale. To make that point even more blunt, her first ever appearance in the story has her standing in her apartment talking about Batman... wearing nothing but pink lingerie.
- Mood Whiplash: Issue 9 was when Batman meets Green Lantern in a yellow room, at first is incredibly funny (DAMN YOU AND YOUR LEMONADE!!) and when Robin starts fighting Green Lantern it's still hilarious and Batman is in the joke but the fun stops abruptly with a splash page of Robin punching Green Lantern's throat, almost killing him if it weren't for Batman. Then it's followed by a crowning moment of Heartwarming.
- In universe and out, Batman and Canary have been making out under the rain and "under the hood", when Batman mentions he can drive her home... in his Batmobile. Canary shows disappointment with her idol's naming choice. Which instantly kills the mood for everyone involved, including the readership, because this Batman is really touchy about his stuff and his person not being as awesome as he thinks it is.
- Never My Fault: Several moments in the story have Batman repeatedly blame Dick Grayson, age 12, for coming into his life and becoming his sidekick, completely ignoring the fact that he's the one who abducted the boy against his will in the first place.
- Only Sane Man: Alfred finds himself making crazy suggestions like, "Maybe we shouldn't force Dick Grayson age twelve to survive by eating rats."
- Pacing Problems: The story is very guilty of this, with a lot of pointless conversations, taking too long to get to key events (like Dick Grayson, age 12, actually becoming Robin), and focusing on some other character to the detriment of the protagonists. The fact that the series has an infamously bad release schedule is a contender.
- Peeping Tom: Happens when Jimmy Olsen visits Vicki Vale in the hospital. The reader is repeatedly informed by the narration boxes that Jimmy doesn't watch, but he is clearly shown turning his head near the bottom of the page.
- Precision F-Strike: "This arcade belongs to the fucking Batgirl!"
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: You think?
- Psychopathic Manchild: In addition to the joy he takes in violence, Batman has the temperament of a child, getting incredibly moody and angry whenever someone isn't impressed with his cave or gadgets. Possibly done as a deconstruction of Batman. We hope.
- Refuge in Audacity: Black Canary is a barmaid who wears a stripperiffic oufit as part of her job. One night, the accumulated tension of unattractive men them hitting on her in the most vulgar ways wears her patience so thin she is ready to explode. Then one of them went and actually gropes her. She snaps, and beats the everliving crap out everyone, to unconsciousness. She makes a point of making one of them swallow his wedding ring, for obvious reasons. She loots their bodies. She torches the place. She runs away on a motorbike by jumping over a ramp and into the air. Coincidentally, Detective Gordon's car was passing right under. He brushes it off, saying they've got bigger things to worry about. As a matter of fact, he is right. Allstar Gotham is only marginally less insane than Sin City.
- Running Gag: The Batmobile being a "queer name" for a car. Lampshaded in hilarious fashion.
Batman: Not one word. I've taken enough grief about calling my goddamn car the goddamn Batmobile. I'm the goddamn Batman and I can call my goddamn car whatever the hell I want to call it.
- Scenery Porn
- Slasher Smile: Not from the guy you'd expect, but Batman himself, to Go Nagai levels!
- Splash Panel: The Batcave is introduced in a six-page spread.
- Start of Darkness: An unintentional one for Dark Knight Strikes Again!Dick Grayson.
- Straw Feminist: Wonder Woman, who is introduced shoving a guy out of her way while yelling "Out of the way, sperm bank!". It seems she's mostly unsatisfied by men's failure to live up to her expectations, rather than actually claiming superiority or even equality as a woman: men are overhyped, weaker than they are supposed to be, than they should be. Superman proves to be a subversion: his boy-scout, simple morals clash with her pragmatism and warrior ethos, but he has the power, strength, and intimidation to enforce his law, and that really turns her on.
- Stupid Good: Green Lantern and Superman both come off this way, more out of ignorance than actual stupidity.
- And in Frank Miller stories, Batman is always right. Always.
- Take That: Frank Miller has stated in interviews that he thinks Green Lantern is worthless, and it shows.
- Testosterone Poisoning: Frank Miller grade, triple distilled.
- Those Wacky Nazis: The Joker's muscular, shirtless henchwoman. With swastika pasties over her breasts. It's a Continuity Nod to a minor character in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
- Training from Hell: Clearly what Batman intended for Robin.
- Traveling at the Speed of Plot: The Goddamn Batmobile is also a Goddamn Delorean:
"Fifteen hours ago
". That means one of two things. Clark Kent either drank this carton of milk fifteen hours before Dick Grayson, age 12
, was kidnapped by Batman, and thus it is a magical prescient carton of milk, OR it's actually been a long enough ride in the Batmobile for Dick to have been reported missing, for his name to get to the missing persons groups, for them to submit his information to the milk company, for the milk company to print the cartons, distribute the cartons, and then for Clark Kent to go to the grocery store and buy the carton of milk. Let's see, by my rough estimate, that means that Batman and Dick have been on the way to the Batcave for, oh, about FIVE FUCKING WEEKS now.
- A lot of these issues come up. The series goes over two or three nights, depending on how you look at it, yet Miller seems to forget this since the books took so long to come out. Especially in issue nine. Batman arranges a meeting with Hal Jordan 'In twelve hours' in issue eight; yet in issue nine, Batman is reminiscing about multiple training sessions and Dick being in the cave with him for weeks. Also, apparently an entire clinic was bribed, Dick made a press conference and then they could paint an entire apartment yellow with "nearly an hour to spare" before Jordan arrived for his meeting twelve hours since issue eight.
- This is probably because Frank Miller is utilizing non-linear storytelling. Sometimes it's hard to keep track of all the "11 hours earlier" in the same issue.
- Unusual Euphemism and Inherently Funny Words: Black Canary is called lovechunks
- What the Hell, Hero?: Both Robin and The Green Lantern call out Batman for his Bat-shit crazy behavior. Ironically, Batman also gets to call out Robin when Robin crushes Green Lantern's throat.
- Who Are You?: The first issue included this memetic exchange (which effectively set the tone for the series as a whole):
Dick Grayson, Age 12:
Who the hell are you anyway, giving out orders like this? Batman:
What are you, dense
? Are you retarded
or something? Who the hell do you think
I am? I'm the Goddamn Batman
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Batman fantasizes about what he could do with Green Lantern's ring - force everyone to think his way. God help us.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Poor Superman and Green Lantern are oblivious to the fact that they're in a post-9/11 Frank Miller comic. Because of this, Batman can easily manipulate them both.