Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Splash Page: Batman and Robin #1 and Seaguy #3 (Part II)

[Tim and I continue our discussion of Batman and Robin #1 and Seaguy #3. You can read the first part on Tim's blog!]

Tim Callahan: Since I said "there's very little in the way of subtext" I guess I'd be missing it too, if there were any. But I don't see this comic being about layers of meaning. I see it as a straightforward exploration of a new Batman/Robin dynamic, built on the inversion of the normal roles. It's a chance to tell fresh Batman stories because this Batman is fresh. Dick Grayson has no idea how to be Batman, even with all of his experience as a costumed crimefighter. He's not the crazed vigilante type. Damian is crazed, but not in the way Bruce was. It's as simple as putting those two characters through the wringer by giving them some baddies to fight. Now it's only the first issue, so clearly the stakes will get higher as the series progresses (and the "coming attractions" page at the end was one of the best parts of the issue), but I see this as a more external counterpart to Morrison's internal Batman run.

Seaguy is a mix of both internal and external, but the greatness of that series (besides Cameron Stewart's art, which I might actually enjoy more than Frank Quitely's Batman and Robin art, as I reflect on both issues at this moment) is that the internal stuff is represented through the external. I have a "When Words Collide" column planned that will address Seaguy in more depth, but what Morrison does in that series is to take the subconsciousness and represent it through surface interactions. The Seaguy stuff is the stuff of dreams, the characters and actions the embodiments of hopes and fears, which is basically the core of the superhero genre anyway. Batman and Robin loses that sense because it's too specific. It's too much about these particular characters who live in this particular fictional world, as much as Morrison says he intends to do some kind of David Lynch thing with them. Maybe he will -- maybe the series will ultimately be about these very specific characters regaining their dreamlike roles in the collective unconscious -- but issue #1 doesn't point that way, and I think that's why this comic is slightly disappointing (or as disappointing as a four-and-a-half star comic can be, which is the score I would have given it, too).

Chad Nevett: Actually, four-and-a-half stars is my "objective reviewer" rating. In my more subjective view, I would have gone down to a mere four stars... which is still pretty damn good. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the issue quite a bit and my complaint that there isn't as much subtext is a minor one -- but it's also what separates the very good from the great, you know? Batman and Robin #1 was very good, while Seaguy #3 was great. Really just nitpicking.

You mention the "coming attractions" page and that was the only time I actually felt that chill of excitement run through me (okay, the double punch-out of the Toad got me excited). I'm not always a fan of that technique since I've seen it used in the past as an excuse of sorts. "Okay, so this issue wasn't the best, but look at what we've got coming up once we get past all this lame exposition and scene setting!" I didn't get the sense that that's what is happening here, because those four images are very purposeful and work within the context of Morrison's run to this point. The references to his previous work on the book were my favorite parts of the issue... god, have I become some lame continuity nut in micro form, dedicated to Morrison? Damn.

TC: Maybe we're just too entrenched in looking for the layers that it's difficult to appreciate something that's a visceral thrill without much depth. Nah, that's not it -- we both love "Ghost Rider" when its at the level of pure, raunchy fun. We just expect something different from Morrison, I suppose. But then again, you're the one guy left on the internet who's not a big All-Star Superman fanboy, so who knows what you're thinking.

CN: I'm currently thinking about making hot dogs for supper and drinking my coke slushy. And how awesome Queens of the Stone Age are. That's what I'm thinking.