Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Comics Recap: Batman + Robin #1

Still not exactly sure what the All Star line means for Batman. After reading the first issue it would seem to be not a retool of Batman in the "Ultimate" vein, but that of a re-introduction of Robin into the mythos. All fine and dandy. The Robin sequences are good, the notable exception to "what has gone before" being Dick Grayson's witnessing of his parents being shot in the head in front of the circus crowd-- in classic continuity they fell to their deaths from a highwire per sabotage, but even that detail gets a little murky depending on which decade the story was retold.

I'm going to stray into an examination more fitting of a post on Suspension of Disbelief, concerning the feasibility of a couple story segments. The first would be Dick's slip and fall from the trapeze. Before falling to his own death (or at least severely crippling injury), Dick is able to remove a grapple from his costume, wing it up to a support and save himself. Let's say a circus tent averages about 5 stories... close to around 60 feet as far as google research and loose math can take me: One note I found was for The Circus Chimera, reported to have the world's tallest circus tent at 60 feet. However not so loose math tells us that free-falling objects fall at 32ft/second. Whoa. For the sake of comic argument, we'll suppose that the Gotham Circus tent sets a world's record at 96 feet tall. The top third of that is reserved for the trapeze rigging, tentpole pinnacles and the like. If Dick fell from that height, say hanging from the trapeze at 64 feet, he would have 2 seconds before he hit the ground. In some areas of life, perhaps maybe falling from a trapeze, 2 seconds could be considered an eternity. In that time Dick was able to: realize he fell (important!), remove a grapple from somewhere on his person, take the grapple and create enough swing to launch it upward -- at least 32-50 feet-- have the grapple catch and wrap the trapeze and pull taught to stop his fall while still several feet above ground. I can believe Robin is a quick thinker and has above average agility, and I know jack about physics and less about trapeze, but damn.

The second point is relatively minor but still something I noticed. The Graysons' assassin was shown to be a pretty schlubby looking sort while fleeing from the scene. There was no explicit depiction of his gun, it's little detail shows only that it was a pistol that by it's markings could range anywhere from a .22 to a .38 to a .45-- but he was able to hit two targets square in the head from an unknown distance. This had to be at least the distance from the crowd to center ring. So this dude described as "big as an ox and twice as smart" had to be a rather efficient marksman-- with a pistol no less, as rifle would have been far better for the job. Jocko-boy Vanzetti, to me, did not evoke the image of someone so skilled as a killer.

These details, yeah, it's picky. I call them out because this is "All-Star," baby. This is supposed to be the crem de la crem of superhero comics. But basically I think Frank Miller is looking to create a pulpy, fast moving action piece. At that he succeeds. What I hope improves over subsequent issues is the role of Vicki Vale. There ain't nothing wrong her introduction (depending who you ask), four pages of Vicki in her underwear drawn by Jim Lee. Smallville, The OC, they all do the same thing. It's supposed to be sexy, it's geared to a market that would appreciate that. It does unfortunately set her up as somewhat objectified as far as the author presents it. But again it's Miller, so we can't be too surprised by this point. Later on I was kind of disappointed that she gets knocked around by the cops if only to set up that "Gotham cops are bad." She does take a pro-active role in hijacking Alfred to follow the cops as they leave with distraught Dick Grayson, so we'll see where it leads.

All Star Batman + Robin will need a couple issues to see if it gets anywhere beyond a Miller/Lee showcase outside of DCU's current Crisis continuity. Lee had a decent attack at all of the major bat villains during Loeb's "Hush" run so it will be interesting to see if Miller's take is fresh enough to make it worthwhile.

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