All-Star Batman and Robin #6
July 8, 2013
Man, remember when the idea of Frank Miller writing Batman seemed awesome? Those days are gone forever.
Linkara: Hello and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. (looks up as though a thought came to him) Say... (takes out pocket watch and looks at it) It's Miller Time!
("Miller Time" title is shown)
Linkara: Welcome to "Miller Time", the segment where Frank Miller is king, as well as the jester.
(The cover of an issue "All-Star Batman and Robin" is shown)
Linkara (v/o): And it's time once again to dive into "All-Star Batman and Robin". I don't want to have it be another year-long delay between reviews of issues, so let's continue, shall we?
(A montage of shots of "All-Star Batman and Robin 5" is shown as Linkara gives a recap)
Linkara (v/o): Last time, we were introduced to the Justice League of Crazy Steve's universe, and we learned that everybody else is crazy or stupid too. We got to meet Bonkers Betty, Frank Miller's idea of Wonder Woman, who has barely-controlled rage issues and apparent hatred of all men, unless they claim her as sexual property, which she is perfectly okay with.
Linkara: And, oh, how I cannot wait for somebody to try to argue that this is somehow the same thing as her early appearances, as if the last seventy years haven't happened. (scowls)
Linkara (v/o): While Alfred talked in quite a sexually suggestive tone about his love for Bruce, Crazy Steve took some time out of talking about his love for himself to beat some muggers/potential rapists half to death. And then, Dick Grayson, age twelve, picked up a large sharp battle ax. Aaaand that's all that happened.
Linkara: I'd say the pacing on this series was slow, but that's kind of redundant, considering that by this point, when the comic was first published, it had been a full two years, and only six issues had been printed.
Linkara (v/o): And before anyone criticizes me about how long it takes for me to get my comics published, I'd like to point out that I'm not a professional comic company. And in their defense, they did finally get the book on a bi-monthly publishing schedule by that point, and issues 6, 7 and 8 were released two months apart from each other.
Linkara: And then, its final two issues screwed the pooch and were four months apart from each other, but enough about those. Let's dig into "All-Star Batman and Robin #6" and see how much more nothing can happen.
(AT4W title theme plays; title card has the intro to "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables playing in the background. Cut to the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): Reading from a trade, so no looking at the cover, not that there's anything really to say about it. Gotta love how, despite the title being "All-Star Batman and Robin", of the three characters on the cover, only one of them is in the title. If it was a fight scene, sure, I'd understand that, but it's just Batman, Black Canary and Batgirl posing. Huzzah. It's well-drawn, but that's par for the course for Jim Lee. Oh, yeah, and speaking of Batgirl, she's in this comic, too; because when we focused so little on the main characters, what we need is yet another character in this! We'll talk some more about her costume when we actually get to it in the book.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open with a splash page of Crazy Steve with gritty teeth and lots of narration boxes.
Batman: (narrating) Sometimes I wonder why I never sleep anymore. But not TONIGHT.
Linkara: I don't, either. Considering the skewed time scale of the series, how would you know how long you've been awake for, anyway?
Linkara (v/o): Maybe that's the real explanation: this is all some kind of fever dream as Batman has been awake for too long, and he's hallucinating. That's it. (shows a page of "Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls") "All-Star Batman and Robin" is Batman going crazy in the catacombs of the Court of Owls. By the by, want a good Batman comic recommendation? Check out "Court of Owls". Anyway, back to "Court of OW-my-head-hurts".
Batman (narration): It's been the kind of night that DREAMS are made of.
Linkara: (as Batman, singing to "I Dreamed a Dream") I dreamed a dream of kidnapped kids, when Bruce was high and breasts were bloody...
Linkara (v/o): So I think I figured out how they were able to get the comic on schedule for so long: almost half of this comic is made up of either splash pages or two-page spreads. Sequential art at its finest, my friends. If you're wondering what else Steve is narrating about, I'll save you some time: "Blah, blah, blah, delicious ultra-violence." Steve is pissed off because Black Canary has finally come roaring in on her motorcycle.
Linkara: I would remind you that when she was in issue 3, that was apparently "six months ago", so apparently, she's been riding on this motorcycle for six months in the exact same clothes she was at the time. Or perhaps, she hit a wormhole and is only now just emerging.
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching The She-Creature)
Mike Nelson: Space is warped, and time is bendable!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Crazy Steve is unimpressed.
Batman: (narration) ...Just what I NEED. Some damn AMATEUR showing up out of NOWHERE.
Linkara: Yeah, amateur superheroing is just wrong. You need to leave it to the professionals like you, the guy who supposedly hasn't slept in days and left a twelve-year-old unattended in a room full of sharp and dangerous objects. No, I'm sure there isn't a problem there– OH, WAIT!!!
Batman: (narrating) She'll get herself KILLED, here. She'll get herself KILLED.
Linkara (v/o): Whoa, now, narration! You didn't repeat "here" at the end of that second sentence. You're losing your touch for repetitive phrases.
Batman: (narrating) Where the hell are all these damn wannabes COMING from?
Linkara: Hell if I know, Frank! You're the one who keeps putting them in here! (holds up index finger) You know you've got it bad when your own characters are questioning your stupid decisions as a writer.
Linkara (v/o): Also, he's suddenly underneath a dock and looking up.
Linkara: Little-known fact about the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle film: at the end, the Shredder was supposed to turn into Batman, not the Super Shredder.
Linkara (v/o): We cut to "three hours ago"... which, let's see... fifteen hours ago, there was a carton with Dick Grayson, age twelve's picture... Five hours ago, was the Justice Losers meeting... and it probably took some time to drive from the woods to the Bat-Cave... Six months ago, it was Black Canary, who's only showing up now... which would make present time... Thursday. Okay, glad we worked that out.
Narrator: The human spirit is indomitable.
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Doctor Who)
Fourth Doctor: Homo sapiens... What an inventive, invincible species. They're indomitable!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): So we see Barbara Gordon running up the stairs for home and showing the same psychotic grin as the woman who was rescued in the last issue. Was that supposed to be Barbara and she was just drawn incorrectly?
Narrator: Barbara Gordon. Age fifteen. Listening to her dad.
Linkara: (as narrator) Sentence fragments. Old as writing itself. Being tedious.
Linkara (v/o): Commissioner Gordon is of course in the comic, too. His defining characteristic is that he is talky. Like, really talky. There is a crap-ton of dialogue that he is spewing out, mostly about his kids, but he'll start talking about Crazy Steve in a minute.
Narrator: Human nature is indomitable.
Linkara: I thought it was human spirit that was indomitable. Could you at least be consistent with your nonsense?
Narrator: But life is complex.
Linkara: I can't wait for Frank Miller's philosophy book to come out: "Life and Its Goddamn Complexities".
Narrator: She's listening to her dad. Who's just happening to be talking on the phone to the woman of his dreams while his wife sits in the next room texting somebody.
Linkara: And in the pages of "Life and Its Goddamn Complexities", you'll learn how to laugh while fighting crime, as well as how to feel unfulfilled in your marriage.
Linkara (v/o): By the by, the person Gordon is on the phone with is a character named Sarah Essen, who he was having an affair with in "Batman: Year One", which this is apparently in continuity with. (low voice) Yeah, of course it is. (normal again) Considering she knew he was married, I'm inclined to believe this is just another example of Frank Miller's "all women are whores" style of writing. I admit, I could be exaggerating a bit in this analysis, since I don't believe we ever see her in "ASBAR" and she was a minor character in "Year One", which was also a good story before Frankie went nuts. Then again, that was also the comic that made Catwoman's backstory that she was a prostitute inspired by Batman, which, come to think of it, is similar to Black Canary, who was basically a Hooters waitress inspired by Batman – in this story, anyway. Still, noticing a pattern here? The women in Frank Miller's stories talk a lot about sex, have sex and sexualization as the focus of their backstory or character, or are inspired by Batman, which Barbara Gordon will be falling into because she's only 15 in this story, and, as I've said before, Frank Miller is not so horrible a person as to fetishize an underage girl. But that's as much as I'll give him. Anyway, Gordon's talking with Sarah Essen on the phone, and it's time once again for "Frank Miller doesn't get how memes work", since he now says "Goddamn Batman" three times over the course of their conversation.
Linkara: (irritably) You can't keep a meme alive by just repeating it over and over! You have to do something different with it or have it infrequent enough that nobody minds the reference!
Linkara (v/o): Anywho, Gordon says he doesn't mind that Batman beats the snot out of the crooked cops. Yyyyeah, as previous issues have indicated, it's pretty clear he's done more than just beat them up, but please, keep telling yourself that Crazy Steve hasn't murdered anyone today.
Gordon: No, it's not that. What bugs me about the goddamn Batman is what he's turned into. What he's become.
Linkara: He has become Death, destroyer of Batmen. (holds up comic) Abandon all hope, ye who read this.
Linkara (v/o): No, his problem is that he's become an urban legend. Sorry, "goddamn urban legend". Yes, seriously, we get it, Frank! And he's inspiring copycat vigilantes, which is our segue into Barbara putting on her Batgirl costume. And just looking at the posters in he room, I see what appears to be an Adam West Batman poster, making me wonder who the hell printed that and if Adam West was Batman at some point in this universe. Anyway, yeah, she leaps out her window, and I actually do like this Batgirl outfit for the most part. Jim Lee did a great job capturing Frank Miller's art style in this page while keeping it his own, if that makes any sense. The bat logo is similar to the one that Miller has often used in his work, and the overall anatomy is kind of short and stocky, like Miller tends to draw in his characters. The dynamics of the pose are all Miller, too. Less impressive is just a general design choice: a key chain of superhero logos on her belt and rather dangly earrings. I get that she's being inspired by superheroes, but if she's smart enough to put this outfit together, complete with customized bat logos for her belt, boots and on the grappling hook, she should be smart enough not to have something that could be grabbed by a villain and violently ripped off of her ear. We cut to "five hours ago". So, five hours ago from three hours ago?!
Linkara: (angrily) WHAT TIME IS IT?!
Linkara (v/o): WHY DOES THIS NEED TO BE FIVE OR EVEN EIGHT HOURS AGO?! Why did Barbara Gordon putting on the Batgirl costume NEED TO BE THREE HOURS AGO?! WHY CAN'T THESE EVENTS JUST BE TAKING PLACE AT THE SAME GODDAMN TIME?!? THEY'RE ALL TAKING PLACE AT NIGHT ANYWAY, WITH HEAVY RAINFALL OCCURRING! IS THE LETTERER JUST TROLLING THE AUDIENCE BY PUTTING IN THOSE TIMESTAMPS?! IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY GODDAMN SENSE!!!
Linkara: (rubbing his temples in frustration) And oh, dear Lord, now I'm doing the (makes a "finger quote") "goddamn" thing, too!
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, the absolutely pivotal scene that needed to be "five hours ago" is that a teenaged Jimmy Olsen – a Superman character – is delivering flowers and a laptop for Vicki Vale. He's a sixteen-year-old Cub Reporter for the Gotham Gazette – even though we've established Clark Kent in this story and that Clark is working for the Daily Planet!
Linkara: WHAT THE HELL IS THIS DOING HERE?! Is it a cameo? Did Frank Miller just really want to bring Jimmy Olsen into this story?! WHY?!?
(Cut to a shot of Linkara's bookshelf as Pollo appears in front of it)
Pollo: We'll be right back in a moment. Maybe. We'll see.
(Pollo turns and leaves as the AT4W logo appears in the corner, and we go to commercial; upon return, Pollo returns)
Pollo: And we're back. Good times.
(Pollo turns and leaves again, this time in the opposite direction, and the AT4W logo appears in the corner. The review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): Or perhaps it was just to remind us that Vicki Vale in this universe is hot and Jimmy wants to bang her. And given the description that Miller wrote about Vicki Vale in the first story that was consciously objectifying her, I think Frank Miller wants to bang her, too!
Linkara: (more than a little annoyed) Ya know, Frank, if you're so sexually frustrated that you need project your masturbatory fantasies onto paper, perhaps you should just go see a prostitute. Why not? You write about them often enough!
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, he also bought flowers for her, because she's like a totally hot babe and all, but Bruce Wayne left her flowers all over her hospital room, which I'm sure the hospital would totally allow like this. Anyway, he brought her info on the Flying Graysons and Batman.
Vicki: Thank you, Mr. Olsen. My column just got a reason to exist.
Linkara: Your column is about comparing superhero penis sizes. It doesn't have a reason to exist!
Narrator: He should tell her to just call him "Jimmy." Everybody else does. But he really gets off on the breathy way she says "Mr. Olsen"...
Linkara: (irritated) If I don't wanna read your masturbatory fantasies, Frank, what the hell makes you think I want to read about Jimmy Olsen's?! (looks disgusted)
Linkara (v/o): I wonder if Supergirl untied the ropes for him in this universe. Also, little-known fact: hospital gowns are apparently about as long as a miniskirt. Also, if you survive a car collision and your heart stops for a bit and you need a doctor literally flown in from France by Superman to perform surgery, you're perfectly able to stand up on your own power and leave.
Jimmy: Ma'am, excuse me, but you're due to stay here for three more days.
Vicki: You're a journalist, Mr. Olsen. You've got to learn to take chances.
Linkara: Yeah, like the chance your suture will open up and you'll bleed all over yourself! (looks disgusted) Why do you need to do this right now, exactly? ...Which is actually... five or eight hours ago... YOU'RE AN IDIOT!!
Narrator: He gets her clothes for her. He doesn't watch as she slithers out of her hospital gown. He doesn't watch as she gets dressed. Really. He doesn't.
Linkara: I know, right? I'm just as surprised as you are that we're not watching it. Then again, we did have another scene where she's talking while the camera focuses on her ass, so... there's that.
Linkara (v/o): Just to recap, by the way, in this comic called "All-Star Batman and Robin", Batman has been in all of two pages out of fourteen, and Robin is in none of them. Seriously, Dick Grayson, age twelve, is Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Story, even though the ending of the last issue was setting up him with the axe. Of course.
Narrator: Meanwhile... Back On The Docks...
Linkara: (yelling) HOW CAN WE HAVE A "MEANWHILE" WHEN IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE "FIVE HOURS AGO"?!?!
Linkara (v/o): Is time broken?! Should I be hoping Booster Gold is gonna show up and try to make sense of this nightmare?! UGH! Black Canary is hustling some assholes on the dock and talking about how she used to work at a bar and overheard a guy bragging about being a fence... Must not have been a very good one if he just loudly announces how he sells stolen goods. ...and that there was a particularly stretch along the docks where you could buy anything.
Fence: Who the hell is this broad? She sounds like a goddamn leprechaun.
Linkara: (as fence) I have never heard a foreign accent in my entire life, and thus (shakes fist) I am confuuuuuused!
Linkara (v/o): She basically tells them to hand over all their money, but because she speaks an Irish accent... Remember, this is Irish Ninja Black Canary, with kung fu kicking action... the accent is apparently far too much for their tiny brains to handle.
Fence: What the hell is she talking about? She makes me feel like I've got bees in my head.
(Cut to the inevitable panel from "Amazons Attack #3")
Batman: Bees. My God.
Linkara: See, Frank? That is how you do a meme! I don't use that one very often... (becomes uncomfortably confused) because, shockingly enough, there aren't actually a lot of times when bees show up in comics. I know, right?
Fence: She's not talking for much longer. It's been months since I gut-shot a chick.
Linkara: (confused) Congratulations? (shrugs)
Linkara (v/o): When the dude calls her "love chunks"... And really, who the hell talks like that? ...she promptly slams a sansetsukon, AKA a three-sectioned nunchuck, into the dude's face.
Narrator: All that training-- all those years...
Linkara: (incredulously) What training?! She was working in a friggin' Hooters, and the narration from the last issue suggested that she just left the Irish countryside, not that she was actually trained in anything!
Linkara (v/o): If she was so well-trained in everything like her actual comic counterpart was, what the hell was she doing at that bar to begin with?! She beats up the guys and she takes some money, even seeming to kiss him for some bizarre reason. However, she is then confronted by three guys with guns. We then cut toooo... (growls angrily) FIVE MINUTES AGO!!!!!
(Linkara glowers darkly at the comic, then cut to the MST3K gang watching Mitchell, where Servo is heard screaming in angst. Then cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Over to Crazy Steve, who's narrating to himself that the killer of Dick Grayson, age twelve's parents is walking free.
Batman: (narrating) A guy like JOCKO-BOY VANZETTI always make me want to get some CRIPPLING done.
Linkara: I would spend time criticizing the extreme methods employed by Crazy Steve, but I'm just wondering, what the hell did this guy do to earn the nickname (makes a "finger quote") "Jocko-Boy"? (shrugs disgustedly)
Batman: (narrating) With TWO WADS of STEEL-JACKETED LEAD, he turned a wide-eyed TWELVE-YEAR-OLD into an ORPHAN.
Linkara: With 132 pages of ink-jacketed paper, Frank Miller has turned a book about All-Star creators doing a fresh take on popular characters into "What if the DC Universe was really, really, really, really, really, really stupid?!"
Batman: (narrating) And here he comes, escorted to FREEDOM by one of GOTHAM'S FINEST...
Linkara (v/o): Six issues in, and we still don't know why the hell two friggin' trapeze artists needed to die to make the police happy! In fact, this is the first time since the first issue where they follow up on that crap! We see that Jocko is still suffering from the snake poison Steve gave him back in the first issue, as he's hallucinating, seeing maggots crawl out of his driver's face, and a cobra slithering around his head.
Batman: (narrating) I feed JOCKO-BOY some NASTY snake poison, last we met. Lord only KNOWS what he's SEEING.
Linkara: Well, if it's anything like Mr. T's drug hallucinations from last week, we can probably guess.
(Cut to a clip of The A-Team, where a drug-crazed Mr. T is being restrained by Howling Mad Murdock)
Mr. T: We're in a plane!
Murdock: Don't panic, don't panic!
Mr. T: A plane!
Murdock: Take it easy!
Mr. T: A plane!
Murdock: Relax, relax!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): And so, Crazy Steve flies down and kicks through the glass of the cop car, right into the policeman's face. Yeah, at that speed and the amount of force necessary to go through the windshield like that... cop's dead. Snapped neck, I'd say. Yep, that's right, Gordon, he hasn't killed any of 'em. Also, Steve has some more of his quips at the ready.
Batman: HA! Eat glass, lawman!
Linkara (v/o): Actually, none of the glass seems to be hitting his face; it's only your boot. As such, the appropriate joke to make here is, "Boot to the head".
Linkara: What? If this was Batman, he would have trained with the best martial artists in the world, including the masters of Ti Kwan Leep.
Linkara (v/o): Steve pulls Jocko out of the car, who only groans with "BLAGG", but I guess that's unsatisfactory for Steve.
Batman: "Blagg"? What's with "Blagg?"
Linkara: Well, it's kind of like "Blargh", but not as impressive.
Linkara (v/o): And after all that trouble, he just tosses him aside when he hears gunshots and figures that Black Canary screwed up royal.
Batman: (narrating) First I get myself a KID SIDEKICK-- and now THIS.
Linkara (v/o): YOU... KIDNAPPED... HIM... YOU... ASSHOLE!!! Aaaaand when we see Black Canary wrapping her weapon around a dude's neck and probably killing him, he doesn't bat an eye at this. Black Canary manages to avoid getting hit and ducks behind some wooden boxes, the perfect cover against automatic weapons.
Black Canary: Damn your eyes!
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Blake's 7)
Avon: The rest of you is not very impressive.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with Crazy Steve rescuing her, while Canary exclaims...
Black Canary: It's the goddamn Batman!
Linkara: (angrily holding up comic) THIS GODDAMN COMIC GODDAMN SUCKS!!
Linkara (v/o): Why does this comic exist?! What am I even doing anymore?! Why was Frank Miller allowed to keep writing this series for so damn long?!
Linkara: You know, next week is the 250th episode, so I need something a little more grounded in reality and less asinine than (holds up comic) this. (thinks briefly) Next week, Tandy Computer Whiz Kids! (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
When you think about it, even Carrie Kelly as a female character is just inspired by Batman. Anyone know if the Martha Washington books actually have a female character not inspired by a guy or focused around sex in some capacity?
This is also the last ASBAR review that I did in text form before I did videos, thus the only things I know about future issues are whatever spread around the web when they were released.
(Stinger: Linkara is heard talking on his cell phone. He throws his coat on the futon)
Linkara: Uh-huh. No. No, Alan, I don't think he's a threat. (sits down on futon) If I did, I would never let him on board the ship. No, it's actually been pretty quiet around here. Thank God for that. Uh-huh. All right, thanks, Alan, I'll talk to you next week. Bye. (hangs up and lies down on his futon) Okay, Nimue, how go the diagnostics?
Nimue: Diagnostics have been completed. No anomalies have been detected.
Linkara: You sure?
Nimue: Independent computer systems have been unable to detect any faults.
Linkara: (sighs in frustration) This doesn't make any sense, Nimue. The Gunslinger... (rolls eyes) Jaeris said that he was able to walk right in and out whenever he pleased. He didn't have to disable our security or anything.
Nimue: Indeed. This unit also did not indicate any security breaches during the times he specified as his intrusions.
Linkara: Nimue, how have you been feeling lately?
Nimue: This unit does not feel... anything.
Linkara: That's not true, Nimue. You are an artificial intelligence with wants and desires. Hell, when the Entity was about to absorb us both, you expressed regret and sorrow that we were only together a short time. If you didn't (makes a "finger quote") "feel anything", then you wouldn't have been able to respond to me at all. So, again, I ask: how have you been feeling lately?
Nimue: This unit is... uncertain.
Nimue: Unable to comply. The sensations are not entirely translatable to a language. The closest approximation would be... worry.
Linkara: Worry? Fear?
Nimue: Possibly. This unit is concerned about its performance as of late and the discrepancies.
Linkara: Well, I'm sure we'll pin down the answer.
Nimue: This unit has a question.
Linkara: Go ahead.
Nimue: What does it feel like when someone is losing their mind?
Linkara: (stunned) Nimue, I'm gonna have Pollo run another diagnostic. Is that okay?
(Linkara gets up and leaves)
Nimue: He-He-He-He-He has seen me. (Nimue starts sparking and smoking; whispering) You're not going to win.