2 out of 5
Even moreso than the preceding arc, which found Grant Morrison’s Batman and Robin – Tim Drake and Damian – cast in a very sleek, modern, poppy reworking of the Dynamic Duo, earned via the crucible of past/present/future masterminding in the Batman issues leading up to them, and yet cast with a maybe-meta pallor of current era doom and gloom… the second arc goes full dark, rather cementing, for me, that the series may be a commentary on the Kill ‘Em All post-Identity Crisis mentality, in preparation for the true rebirth of what Batman could (should?) be in Batman, Inc.
Howzat for an opening sentence, eh?
Alas, in going full bore with this method, and bringing in the not-Frank Quitely Philip Tan to illustrate, pushing Tim and Damian aside for the Red Hood and ‘Scarlet’, two vigilantes who kill criminals and who seek to usurp the Gotham dark knight throne, the issues aren’t all that great to read. Tan’s art is all muscles and anger, and quite sloppy at points; as I’ve seen the artist do cleaner work elsewhere – and there are moments of calm where the art does suddenly take on a slightly sleeker look – I wonder if this was purposeful. But again, if so, it doesn’t make it more fun to read. And the Hood is the exact opposite of a dynamic villain: he’s exactly who he says he is (Jason Todd); he does exactly what he says he’s going to (kill criminals bloodily). When his actions invite a gang clean-up man, The Flamingo, it ups the grit ante even more: Flamingo can only speak in grunts, and goes right to slicing and dicing executions.
I can understand the concept of these issues from afar, and appreciate that examining this ‘style’ of comic is part of Grant’s master plan, in this case, I’m just thankful these plans are broken up into three issue arcs.