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Batman and Robin: Batman Reborn



Making the dynamic duo seem exciting, fresh and relevant is an uphill battle after a certain movie of 1997, so DC's handing the reins to a rabble-rousing writer like Grant Morrison seems smart. And it is, judging from "Batman and Robin: Batman Reborn "? The Deluxe Edition."

If it's been a while "? decades, even "? since you picked up a Batman comic book, you may wonder what the hell's going on. It took me a few pages to surmise, but here's all you need to know:

" Bruce Wayne, the original Batman, is dead.
" Dick Grayson, the former Robin, is now Batman.
" Damian Wayne, Bruce's 10-year-old son, is now Robin.

Got it? Good. Then strap yourself in.

The hardcover collects the first six issues from the successful new monthly series, with two complete story arcs at three issues apiece. The first quickly reveals that this take on the caped crusader isn't messing around. For one thing, the primary villain is a pig-masked madman who calls himself Professor Pyg; even more disturbing is that he slices faces off of people and adheres them to his doll-like minions. You may wonder if you're reading an adaptation of "Saw."

One of those minions, Sasha, becomes the mentally fractured sidekick to The Red Hood, a costumed vigilante not unlike Batman, but one who crosses the line of taking lives that our hero never does. The Red Hood wants to put Batman out of business, by any means necessary.

The new Batman isn't entirely comfortable with stepping into the blue boots of his old mentor, and his relationship with Robin is testy at best, as the kid harbors a serious mean streak. Good thing he can fight.

Morrison's stories offer a dangerous unpredictability, keeping readers on their toes; just wait until you see the, er, flamboyant enemy known as The Flamingo. (Morrison also offers a few lines of confusion; I'm still trying to decipher "I rokker the jib, Toby.") While I'm not still fully onboard with the art of Frank Quitely or Philip Tan, I have to say their styles mesh well with the messy, schizophrenic nature of Morrison's Gotham City.

Speaking to the "Deluxe" designation of the title, the book offers closing commentaries on the covers and characters that truly enlighten and deepen one's appreciation for this reboot. I'm not sure if it was necessary, but consider me won over. "?Rod Lott


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