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Comic Book / All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder

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"What, are you dense? Are you retarded or something? Who the hell do you think I am? I'm the Goddamn Batman."

The original All-Star DC Comics title. 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 — with a story illustrated by Jim Lee. The story that came out certainly became popular, but not for any of the reasons that the publisher could have anticipated.

Frank Miller has described the story as a distant prequel to The Dark Knight Returns, showcasing how Batman met and recruited Robin in his war against crime. Along the way, Batman meets a number of the other heroes of the DC Universe, who are left at a loss for words at his radical approach to stopping crime.

The series was infamous for, among other things, having an erratic release schedule. After the run came to an endnote , 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. More than a decade later, there's still no word on when exactly this series will arrive.

Not to be confused with Scott Snyder's 2016 series All-Star Batman, which Snyder heavily emphasizes has nothing to do with this.

This comic provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Much like The Batman, this series sees Barbara Gordon become Batgirl before Dick Grayson becomes Robin.
  • Adaptational Jerkass:
    • In this series, Batman is depicted as enjoying violence and inflicting pain, in contrast to his usual depiction. Then there's his treatment of Dick Grayson.
    • Superman is much more quick to anger than the usual calm mild-mannered depiction. There's also his reaction to hearing that Batman has kidnapped Dick being more concerned about the authorities taking action against the Justice League rather than the boy's safety. He also threatens to kill Wonder Woman if she attempts to kill Batman.
    • Wonder Woman is also depicted with an overt hatred of men in this setting. Her first scene has her angrily pushing her way past a civilian man on the street whilst calling him a "sperm bank". The rest of her dialogue and inner thoughts shows that she seems to view men in general as worthless. The one exception is Superman. Her reaction to Batman's actions is to suggest killing him and handing his head over to the authorities. And no, she wasn't kidding about that.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Black Canary becomes Irish.
  • All Amazons Want Hercules:
    • Wonder Woman really hates men. That is, all men except Superman. After the two get into an argument, Supes stomps on the ground hard enough that it knocks her over. This turns her on and leads to the two making out.
    • The same goes for Black Canary and her feelings for Batman himself.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The story makes more sense as a sequel to Batman: Year One when you read issue #10 and some plot points, such as Batman's relationship with Green Lantern, become very interesting when compared to The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Also confirmed by Word of God is that the series is in the same universe as The Dark Knight Returns.
    • Interestingly enough, Miller has also noted that he never intended for Batman to be seen as truly "heroic" in this arc (quite the opposite), until near the end, where Batman tones down (with Robin's help) to become the "moral" Batman we all know.
  • Anti-Hero: Batman and Black Canary. Black Canary savagely beats up a bar full of men for rude behavior and steals their wallets, and Batman is a psychotic lunatic who brutalizes anyone in his way, even if they didn't do anything. They are the good guys of the story.
  • Ascended Meme: Starting with Issue 6, Frank started slipping in references to "the Goddamn Batman".
  • 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 this version of Batman is how Miller sees himself if he were Batman.
  • Big Bad: The Joker is ultimately responsible for the murder of Robin's parents.
  • Blood Knight: Miller takes this side of Batman to an outrageous character breaking degree as Batman is literally burning criminals alive and then having sex with Black Canary because he feels so alive.
  • Butt-Monkey: Green Lantern exists pretty much to be humiliated and insulted by Batman, then gets his neck injured by Robin so Batman gets to save his life.
  • Character Development: Batman starts out completely insane and isolated but is slowly becoming more human thanks to the influence of Dick. 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. However, it rings pretty hollow when it's in issue seven (years into the series thanks to Schedule Slip) of a twelve-issue miniseries that that infamous bleach incident takes place. Far from ascending to herodom and influencing Batman to regain his humanity, Dick Grayson has yet to take up the Robin mantle and was last seen being very impressed by all the deadly weaponry he was surrounded by. Meanwhile, Batman is deliberately burning crooks to death and enjoying it, while the equally derailed Black Canary swoons over him because apparently that's sexy. And whenever Dick comes up in his narration, it's pretty much always with a "stuck with an annoying kid" comment as if he wasn't the one who kidnapped him.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: An odd example occurs with Green Arrow, since although the story takes place before The Dark Knight Returns, it features several notable characters from said story (Superman, Catwoman, the Joker, Bruno), yet Oliver Queen himself is nowhere to be seennote . This is strange, especially when one considers that characters who didn't appear until The Dark Knight Strikes Again (Wonder Woman, Plastic Man) get rather prominent roles in this story.
  • 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.
  • 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'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 ASBAR, he killed crooked cops without hesitation (sometimes plowing through and utterly destroying police cars with no way to know they were all crooked. He's also quite pleased with crooks killing each other in crossfires, and finishes off the rest by setting them ON FIRE.) This is a guy who places ZERO value on human life.
    • 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.
    • Barbara Gordon's existence. The story explicitly takes place a few years after the Joker's first appearance, which happened right at the end of Batman: Year One. In that story, the Gordons don't have any kids, with Jim even lamenting that it'd be wrong to bring a child into Gotham. Given Barbara's age, it's impossible that she was born after James. It's possible that she's Jim's niece in this version, but given that the series plays on the Silver Age quite a bit, it's more than likely she's his biological daughter and there's some snarl in effect.
  • Covers Always Lie: Issue 8 shows the Joker holding Batman's cowl. In the issue itself, Batman never even meets the Joker, much less fight him, nor does Batman take off his cowl, and if said cover was supposed to be Foreshadowing, it went nowhere for reasons mentioned below.
  • Crapsack World: Usually true in a Batman story, but much much more so here.
  • Cut Short: The entire series. Issues #11 and #12 are likely never going to come out, and DC has been saying for years they'll reboot and finish the series with nothing concrete to back up the claims.
  • 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.
    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.
  • Embarrassing Hospital Gown: In issue #6, Jimmy Olsen visits Vicky Vale in the hospital as she's about to check out, and she asks him to bring her clothes so she can change out of the skimpy hospital gown she has. As if to emphasize this, there is a Male Gaze shot of her bare legs as she slides out of bed, and the Hormone-Addled Teenager Jimmy can't help but stare. To make things more embarrassing for him she also starts stripping out of the gown on the spot, not caring he's standing right there.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: The Joker as is usual of him, but in a very marked difference it's the "no sense of humor" variation.
  • Forgot About His Powers:
    • Frank Miller probably hasn't seen that the modern Green Lantern is perfectly capable of dealing with a yellow room.
    • Batman speculating that he could make people think his way with Green Lantern's ring... that's not how it works.
  • Freudian Excuse: 12-year old Dick Grayson's turn to 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!"
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Batman tends to overreact to nearly everything with extreme violence, even the smallest sign of provocation.
  • Heel Realization: Batman actually seems to be on the way to one of these for a moment, but dismisses it and we're right back to crazy town for the rest of the series.
    Batman: What am I doing to this kid? Who the hell do I think I am?"
  • 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).
  • Hypocrite: Batman challenges Dick Grayson to prove he's either "an avenger or a detective" by killing Jocko Boy, the man who murdered his parents. While Bruce is pleased when Dick spares him and ostensibly chooses "detective", Batmans' crime-fighting methods include setting criminals on fire with thermite and bleach, poisoning criminals, and smashing through police barricades. Not only does he strain the plausibility that he actually sticks to Batman's typical one rule, but it's highly unlikely that if he ever got his hands on him, that he would show his parents' murderer the same mercy that Dick shows his.
  • Idiot Ball: Green Lantern accepts Batman's offer to meet at a time and place of Bats' choosing, instead of just picking him up with his ring and keeping him manacled with it til he spills the beans.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: Not exactly immediate, but in one issue, Batman calls Green Lantern a moron, then soon after says Green Lantern is a great man. He also laments revealing one of his safehouses to GL and dismisses it as no loss because he has so many, all in one thought balloon.
  • I Never Told You My Name: Green Lantern gets shocked when Batman causally calls him Jordan.
  • Inherently Funny Words: Black Canary is called lovechunks a lot. She does not like this at all.
  • In Name Only: Black Canary is given an entirely new backstory 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 by Batman.
  • Insistent Terminology: The series makes sure you know Dick Grayson is age twelve.
  • In the Hood: Dick's first costume has one, and he wants to be called "Hood" (after Robin Hood, since he also has a bow and arrows). But Batman just pulls the hood down over his face to show how impractical it is, and declares he is "Robin".
  • In the Style of: A rather easy-to-miss aspect of the artwork is Jim Lee's attempts to emulate Frank Miller's art style. He utilizes poses similar to those found back in The Dark Knight Returns, most notably the signature gritted-teeth Batman scowl from that same story.
  • Jerkass: Everybody but Superman, Alfred, and Robin is some kind of a jerkass.
  • Kudzu Plot: The Driving Question of the series is who had Dick's parents murdered, and when it's revealed to be the Joker, the question becomes why, and along the way Dick becomes Batman's sidekick as Robin. Not only do we never learn why his parents were murdered, there are no hints as to why either. Along the way we get Black Canary and Batgirl being inspired to take up vigilantism by Batman, the Justice League contacting him and Batman stealing Green Lantern's Power Ring, the Joker hatching some unknown scheme with Catwoman that apparently involves her being brutalized and left for the police to find and direct Batman to, and some subplot involving the police of Gotham being corrupt and wanting to silence Dick from speaking out about the murders. Even with the series being Cut Short, it's questionable how all of these plotlines could have been wrapped up in a satisfactory manner in just two more issues.
  • Large Ham: This Batman is a far cry from the Batman we usually know. This Batman's dialogue is incredibly bombastic (case in point: "I'm the Goddamn Batman!"), frequently shown grinning in maniacal glee, throws one-liners like there's no tomorrow whenever he's in a fight and even announces himself by cackling like a lunatic.
  • Likes Clark Kent, Hates Superman: In her very first appearance, Vicki Vale complains about Batman, saying that Gotham deserves a better resident superhero... then talks about how at least Gotham has Bruce Wayne, whom she describes as "rich as Howard Hughes" and "hot as the Sun".
  • Lingerie Scene: Vicki Vale's first appearance is three pages of her parading around her apartment in pink lingerie and high heels. Doubles as Sex Sells. 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.
  • The Lopsided Arm of the Law: Used to demonstrate how absurdly crooked the GCPD is — they deploy death squads and have a standing Kill on Sight order on Batman (they even outfit their highway patrolmen with Uzis) and have no problem trying to beat to death a little kid (Dick) for insisting that he got a good look at the man who shot Dick's parents right in front of him.
  • Male Gaze:
  • 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 on the joke but the fun stops abruptly with a splash page of Robin punching Green Lantern in the 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.
  • 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.
    • Also Black Canary, with her usual large breasts, exposed cleavage, and fishnet stockings, with the variation that this is her work outfit in a seedy bar.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • One of Black Canary's sleazy customers strongly resembles Oliver Queen.
    • Dick initially wants to be an archery-themed superhero called The Hood, a nod to his father's love of the old Robin Hood movies. In real life, the 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood was one of the inspirations behind the creation of Robin.
  • Never My Fault: Several moments in the story have Batman repeatedly blame Dick Grayson 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.
  • Nominal Hero: Batman is depicted in an absolutely psychotic light, abusing Robin and slaughtering dozens of police officers with absolute glee, and is only considered heroic due to being on the good team.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Alfred finds himself making crazy suggestions.
      Alfred: Maybe we shouldn't force [Dick] to survive by eating rats.
    • Green Lantern too. Pity he's also the Butt-Monkey.
  • The 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.
  • Pet the Dog: Batman taking Robin to his parents' graves to allow him to properly grieve. He also shows compassion to Catwoman when he finds her injured.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: In addition to calling Dick retarded, Batman dismissively refers to Wonder Woman as "the Wicked Witch of Lesbo Island".
  • Power Dynamics Kink: Wonder Woman gets aroused and kisses Superman after he knocks her over by shouting and stomping the ground.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Anyone who is not Batman or disagrees with what he's doing is ineffectual, stupid, and/or evil. Anyone who is Batman or agrees with his methods is heroic and awesome.
  • 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 outfit as part of her job. One night, the accumulated tension of unattractive men hitting on her in the most vulgar way wears her patience so thin she is ready to explode. Then one of them 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: One of the few well-received things about the series. Jim Lee took the comic seriously and turned in some truly amazing work.
  • Secretly Earmarked for Greatness: Batman's been keeping an eye on Dick Grayson for some time prior to their first meeting, to the point of knowing his entire educational history off by heart, suggesting that he would have been willing to recruit Dick even if his parents hadn't been murdered. Of course, given Batman's objectively demented behavior throughout the series, this led to speculation that he arranged for the murders just to get a sidekick - though this was ultimately disproven when the Joker was revealed as the assassin's paymaster.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Miller draws from Sin City:
    • "Dick Grayson, Aged 12", is reminiscent of "That Yellow Bastard"'s "Nancy Callaghan, Aged 11".
    • Batman kicks a police officer through through the windshield of a police car, a feat previously pulled off by Marv in Miller's "The Hard Goodbye".
  • Skewed Priorities: Donna Gugina not knowing the Joker is a violent criminal? Fair enough, it is the early days of the character's history and he's not as infamous. Her not reacting to him admitting to trying to kill people? She's more concerned that he's not very funny.
  • Slasher Smile: Not from the guy you'd expect, but Batman himself, to Go Nagai levels!
  • Sociopathic Hero: This version of Batman actually takes pleasure in inflicting pain on criminals.
  • Splash Panel: The Batcave is introduced in a six-page spread.
  • Stalker without a Crush: Batman says he'd been scoping out Dick Grayson as a sidekick for months before his parents were even killed.
  • Start of Darkness: An unintentional one for Dark Knight Strikes Again's Dick Grayson.
  • Straw Feminist: Wonder Woman, who is introduced shoving a guy out of her way while growling "Out of my 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 claim to 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 back up his statements, 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 goddamn right. Always.
  • 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:
    • 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 Grayson 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. (Also, it's downright impossible to tell if "11 hours ago" means 11 hours before the previous scene which was "5 hours ago" or 11 hours before now - whenever "now" is. Which makes you wonder the point of all the hopping around in the first place, as it only serves to confuse things.
  • 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 second issue included this 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.


Video Example(s):


Combine Harvester

Linkara snaps from the stupidity of the comic's plot.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (22 votes)

Example of:

Main / SanitySlippageSong

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