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Batman and Robin, Vol. 1: Batman Reborn

Batman and Robin, Vol. 1: Batman Reborn - Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Philip Tan Morrison continues to develop his Gotham without a Bruce story arc, and he delivers brilliantly. This volume re-unites the writer and artist from All Star Superman and the book is absolutely superb on several levels. Frank Quitely manages to capture the mood and symbolism of the narrative with his illustrating in a way that delivers the story in a tight, neat presentation.

The story follows the new Batman and Robin (Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne) as they try to restore order to Gotham in Bruce's absence. Batman's long absence from the streets has started a crime wave and several pretenders are still lurking trying to claim the mantle for themselves. Grayson does his best to play the role, yet still be himself. He moves the operation out of Wayne manor, and even steps in for Bruce in his affairs at Waynetech. Meanwhile, Damian is struggling to deal with his own identity - brash, overconfident, and impatient, he finds himself getting into all sorts of trouble as he tries to figure out how to work in unison with Grayson, and Grayson in turn finds himself cast in the role of reluctant mentor and fill-in-father for a kid who has zero respect for his authority and quite frankly thinks sometimes he can kill him and seize the legacy of his father for himself.

Where it delivers: Morrison captures the struggles and conflicts between Grayson and Damian all too well, realistic, poignant, and totally believable. You find yourself rooting for the two to succeed, and when the ruse begins to pay off and the thugs of Gotham really do start to believe that the real Batman and Robin are back, you feel like giving Grayson a slap on the back. It also succeeds in the creation of a new villain for the new duo to be locked in mortal struggle against instead of the traditional Arkham cadre: Pyg, who Morrison succeeds in making the Joker's rival in creepiness. There are great little panels as well, when the new duo meet Gordon the first time and you can tell that Gordon just knows. He knows Batman's voice is off, but still familiar (recollecting times in the past when he may have heard Grayson's voice as a child).

There's a lot of potential here. Will Batman's traditional nemeses figure it out? Or will their psychoses prevent the from noticing? Has Grayson spent enough time under Bruce to pull off the act? I want more! I can't help but think the Joker will not be fooled...