Home > comics, pseudo-analysis > Between the Panels: ‘All Star Batman and Robin’

Between the Panels: ‘All Star Batman and Robin’

All Star Batman and Robin has nearly been panned by critics and fans universally. In the series, writer Frank Miller (responsible for some of the most defining Batman stories in the ’80s) reinvented the Batman character. Those who dislike the work see it is a clear departure from what makes the Batman character so great. This Batman is violent, egotistical, and lacks any proper defined moral code. But what these nay-sayers fail to miss is the strong embodiment that Miller’s new Batman has for the time it was written. In All Star Batman and Robin, Miller uses the work as a metaphor for political activism in the post 9-11 era and the juxtaposition between action and the lack thereof.

While Batman has always been a vigilante figure, he takes an entirely new type of vigilante in All Star Batman. While the Batman of other works dons the role as a means of fixing up Gotham and to avenge his parents, this Batman takes pleasure in his vigilantism, as expressed when he says, “I love being the goddamn Batman!” Those last two words have drawn some of the greatest criticism for the work and are repeated multiple times throughout the volume.

But this statement shouldn’t be taken with that much criticism. By calling himself the ‘goddamn Batman,’ this iteration of the character establishes himself as egotistical and proud. It’s more than likely that Miller is likening Batman to post 9-11 American nationalism in the threat of growing levels of terrorism. Through the course of action Americans, just like Batman, are establishing themselves as proud. To display this sense of pride both must take their actions in forms of aggressive tendencies. The reality form of this is the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars and the comic form of this is the extreme violence seen when Batman confronts criminals. It is far more excessive, on both parts, than what is used to, but potentially necessary in a new era.

To juxtapose this pride and violence of Batman is Dick Grayson, the soon-to-be Robin. Grayson initially refuses to give into Batman’s violent tendencies. He calls many of Batman’s equipment or decorations in the Bat-Cave silly and childish. Of course, Grayson can be likened to the other developed powers who refuted the United States in the past decade. The flashes of American power and nationalism fail to impress the countries, just as Batman’s ego and strength fail to impress Grayson. By the end it is Grayson who becomes the most violent of the duo, a possible commentary by Miller on the potential militarism of the other developing countries when inspired by American action.

Whereas Batman’s actions are ‘controlled,’ Robin’s are not. While Miller’s Batman celebrates his pride and the use of action, when he see this action being performed there is an exterior line being drawn. The same could be applied for the United States when there is a force that exceeds a standardized militarism. The greatest irony is that both Batman and the U.S. cannot do the same evaluation for themselves. With these metaphors in mind it’s easy to see All Star Batman and Robin for more than an improper treatment of the Batman character. And given Miller’s previous social commentary in his other Batman work, The Dark Knight Returns, it would make sense that he could do something similar here. Just in a new form.

Batman is owned by DC Comics. All Star Batman and Robin is written by Frank Miller, with art by Jim Lee.

This post has been a joke. All Star Batman and Robin seriously does suck. This post deserves credit to Oanicitizen’s ‘Between the Lines’ videos. These can be seen on his blip channel.

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