Step 2: My reaction to this page.
On reflection, I actually quite like this.
What we have here is a man who has never dealt well with emotion. He is fanatically obsessed with the death of his parents and spends his life trying to somehow un-do that death, a quest which is eternally doomed to failure. he desperately needs allies because he’s going mad trying to do it alone, but nobody else is nuts enough to “understand” him. He sees a young boy suffer the same experience that he did and instantly grasps at this chance to save him from going through similar torture as well as finally have a companion in his “war.” It is sad, it is pathetic and it is more than a little creepy. This emotionally stunted man-child feels that the only person in the world that he can relate to is a prepubescent boy. But he can’t be honest with the boy, because then the kid will have to go through the same years of suffering that he did. It’s the classic parent’s attempt to save your kid from everything you went through as a kid. He’s trying to be for Dick the thing that he wishes he’d had as a kid, the thing that he only found after years of torment – a cold, external force constantly driving you to work at some task, preventing you from thinking about your feelings. So he does his best to be that for Dick. Of course, being an emotionally stunted man-child, he’s not too successful at it… I suspect Miller is writing Dick as considerably different than young Bruce; considerably more mentally resilient and mature. The great thing about watching the two of them is that Dick is actually the adult here. Bruce is trying so goddamn hard and Dick sees right through him.
I wouldn’t say it’s breaking too many boundaries – I think it’s treading the same path as Watchmen and Miracleman and Animal Man and Dark Knight Returns (more deconstruction, psychologically investigating the reasons why someone would become a superhero). And I don’t think it’s consistent with the marketing for this book, or with Jim Lee‘s talents as an artist, or with the current need for superhero books to be “fun again,” or with my memories of DK2.
But putting all that aside and considering it as a piece of writing, I like it. We’ve seen hints of this in other writers recently (Devin Grayson especially), and it actually seems to be the most popular Batman/Robin interpretation on Scans_Daily, so I’m not quite sure where all the rage is coming from.
The emphasis on two deeply flawed men trying to relate to each other reminds me a lot of Preacher. I wonder what Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon would do with this assignment. At least, considering what I said before about Jim Lee being inappropriate (if this is really the psychological story that I think it is), I wish we could get art from Dillon, or Darick Robertson, or somebody along those lines.