By Grant Morrison (writer), Frank Quitely (artist), Alex Sinclair (colorist)

The Story: Dick Grayson, the new Batman, is still trying to cement his positionas the Dark Knight, as Gotham doesn’t buy him. Meanwhile, Robin has taken off on his own. As the dynamic duo go their separate ways, Professor Pyg and his band of sadistic circus psychopaths, continue their savagery and brutality across Gotham.

What’s Good: Everything. From the brilliant opening splash page to the brilliant closing splash page. The art and story are vivid as events spill over, panel after panel, page after page. It’s a great ride. Since I really want to talk about the story, I won’t take any time at all to talk about Quitely’s art (with Sinclair’s brilliant colors), other than to say it is absolutely stunning. I found myself stuck on most pages, trying to figure what those two had done to create such dramatic, evocative images.

On the story side, Dick is obviously the core of this coming-of-age drama. The struggle of the son assuming the mantle of the father is as old as the hills, but Morrison makes it feel new here. He disguises it. The old tropes are hidden by the capes and nighttime chases and the surging, chaotic action, but at its core, this is still the story of a boy replacing his father and becoming a father himself. He doesn’t complete the journey here. No one would. Morrison trusts us to be patient with him. But Dick travels along his arc, and comes closer to discovering who he really has to be to feel right in the long cape and behind the dour mask.

There are obviously a lot of of parallels between Bucky Barnes and Dick Grayson, but as much as I loved Bucky as Captain America, there is something more emotional in Batman and Robin. I think it has to do with precisely Damian and Dick’s new role as guardian. Dick would be a great dad for any child. He’s mature and ready for it, but to take on his own father’s role, while taking on the upbringing of his father’s true-blood son…. There’s something very poignant and conflict-ridden in that triangle that makes Batman and Robin more visceral than Bucky’s socialization in Captain America. And Damian and Dick are on parallel arcs themselves. Damian has everything to prove to Dick, and vice-versa. Both travel along their respective roads and even cross for a while.

What’s Not So Good: There is little to complain about with this book. The villains are so horrific, psychotic, sociopathic, creepy, they are at the edge of suspension of disbelief. Their sheer disfunctionality had me wondering at times how such behavior could hold together a criminal group. Morrison takes some risks here, and for me, there’s a bit of creaking in the story around the sociopathy. An inch further and Morrison’s villains would have come off as caricatures, but he uses his artistic licence for the sake of drama.

Conclusion: What a stellar book! Absolutely brilliant. $2.99 is cheap for what Morrison and Quitely deliver. Buy this book now.

Grade: A

-DS Arsenault