All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder

I tweeted recently that I think All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder is a lot better than I’d heard it was, and some folks asked for elaboration and here goes:

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I think you have to understand this book as a kind of fun, funny satire. You sometimes read haters say that the art is lovely, but the dialogue and the plot inept. I think people should think harder about that. The art is lovely, it’s clearly a book put together with some considerable care. The text, I think, references the idea that the grim ‘n gritty “Dark Knight” version of Batman was created as a deliberate effort to counter the “campy” Batman that was the legacy of the Adam West live action series. All-Star Batman is the Dark Knight as camp. This isn’t the most brilliant idea of all time, or even the best Frank Miller Batman story, but it’s a perfectly solid entry into the Batman ethos.

To give some policy gloss to the whole thing, I think Miller’s All-Star Batman also does a nice job of quietly illustrating how difficult it is to break out of a high-corruption equilibrium. When the police force is endemically corrupt, what can anyone do? A rationally self-interested citizen is going to just try to accommodate the corrupt powers that be. It might be nice to think (as in the Year One version of Batman) that an adequately motivated outsider could make a positive impact via vigilantism, but the reality is that any effort to bypass the constituted authorities is likely to only increase the overall level of chaos and violence.