Just for the record, this hardcover contains All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder issues 1-9.
Overall- Um, wow, so I guess like Frank Miller is a genius and Jim Lee is still one of the greatest comic book artists out there today. I'm going to be blatantly honest here, I can barely contain myself from gushing like a little school girl about how much I enjoyed this hardcover... Oh, what the hell, I think I am going to gush. This series was F###ING AMAZING!!!!!!
I don't know if I've EVER enjoyed a comic book series as much as I enjoyed reading this one... If I was stuck on an island with no hopes of ever getting off of it, and could only bring one thing with me, I'd bring this frigging hardcover! Now, I've been reading comic books for practically my entire life. I can remember sitting in the barbershop with my father, reading G.I. Joe and Thundercats(!) back when I was 6 years old. Now, 21 years later, I can proudly say that I've probably read well over 10,000 comic books, with my own personal collection numbering somewhere in the 7,000's(and that's not counting the hundreds of Conan comic books my father gave me, along with an additional few hundred comics from lesser known publishers that I wound up buying in grab bags at my old comic book shop when I was in my early teens). With that being said, and looking back at everything I've ever read, I think this series, these 9 issues that I've just read, are the greatest comic books that I have ever read.
I am really straining my brain to find some other comic book(s) I've liked as much or more than these, and I really can't. I thought the "Kingdom Come: Superman special" was one hell of a well written and drawn comic book, but it doesn't come close to touching these issues of All-Star Batman. The "Kingdom Come" mini-series was spectacular, but it can't touch All-Star Batman. I loved "The Age of Apocalypse" crossover, and collected every single issue connected to it, and the "Fatal Attraction" event was also a personal favorite, but neither one comes anywhere near All-Star Batman.
EVERYTHING about these 9 issues was just perfect. I wouldn't want to change a thing. Batman was a Goddamn maniac. He was totally and completely insane. Of course, he didn't see it that way, Batman considered himself only "half-crazy". No, the Goddamn Batman was out of his mind, bat-sh## crazy. The stuff he did to Dick Grayson was absolutely horrible. He basically took this poor kid, who had just watched his parents get gunned down right in front of him, and tortured the kid both psychologically and at times physically. In Batman's sick, warped mind, he HAD to torture this poor kid in order to help him get over the death of his parents.
Even still, Batman would often doubt what he was doing to Dick in his mind, before deciding that he was doing what had to be done to further his "mission". There were just so many layers to every character who appeared in these issues. There were NO one dimensional characters here. Every single major character was so multi-faceted that I really cared about what they were thinking and how they would end up. The Goddamn Batman(as he repeatedly referred to himself)truly wanted to help Gotham City and Dick Grayson in his own twisted way. Although his actions were at times terribly abusive, I couldn't hate him for them... Realizing that Batman never truly recovered from watching his parents die slowly in front of him as a six year old causes me to pity him more than hate him.
As for Dick Grayson, I can't even express how terribly I felt for him. He goes from witnessing his parents getting their brains blown out, to being kidnapped and tortured by the Goddamn Batman. The poor kid was still in his tights, which were stained by his parents brain matter for the first 5 issues of this series! I can honestly say that by the 9th issue of the series, Dick had completely succumbed to the Stockholm syndrome, you know, when the captive of somebody begins to relate and want to stay with his kidnapper. Dick had been mentally broken to the point where he wanted to work with Batman, and was hellbent on pleasing his psychotic mentor.
Along the way we meet other familiar faces from the DCU, including Black Canary, who, inspired by the violent actions of Batman, decides to emulate him. Eventually they meet up, and after Batman torches some criminals Black Canary was fighting, the two wind up having sex on the docks, with their masks on of course, not that far away from the burnt crooks. We also meet the Joker, who was the man responsible for arranging the killing of Dick Grayson's parents. By the end of this hardcover, we still don't know why the Joker orchestrated the deaths. The Joker is as sick as ever, drugging a prominent attorney, raping her, and then strangling her to death.
Needless to say this comic book is in no way, shape or form for children. The Gotham City Frank Miller creates here is a dirty, sick place, full of the worst types of people inhabiting the world. Jim Lee does a truly marvelous job of bringing this sick, twisted city and it's citizens to life with his magical artwork. In all of my comic book collection, I only have a very small handful of work from Frank Miller, not really enough for me to really have had a strong feeling about his work, one way or the other. I had always heard great things about Frank's work, but for some reason, he managed to remain under my notice. I can guarantee you right now, I will go out of my way to pick up as much of Frank's work on Batman that I can possibly lay my hands on.
I've enjoyed comic books before, but never like this. I want to climb to the rooftops and expound the greatness of these comic books. I still haven't even mentioned the Justice League yet! Wonder Woman was freaking hilarious! She behaved in the exact way I would have expected a new arrival from her Amazon island to act. She just plain hated men! Her lines would often have me laughing out loud at several points. Hal Jordan was in classic form as well, and the scene where Hal meets with Batman in a room Batman had painted completely yellow was just classic. Not only was the room painted yellow from top to bottom, but so were Batman and Robin, all to f### with Hal's mind.
I could literally go on and write about this hardcover, page by page, because it was just that Goddamn good. Now, I can totally understand how long time fans of Batman must HATE this comic, due to the way it depicts their long time hero. For me though, I've only just begun to read about Batman, and can separate the regular DCU Batman from his All-Star Batman counterpart, the same way I can separate the Marvel Universe Spider-Man from his Ultimate Universe counterpart. All-Star Batman is definitely not your father's Batman and shouldn't/can't be compared to the regular DCU Batman. The way I see All-Star Batman is as a fractured mirror version of the DCU Batman, if he would have allowed his grief over his parents death to have driven him totally over the deep end.
Frank Miller(writer), Jim Lee(artist), Scott Williams(inker), Alex Sinclair(colorist)and anybody else at DC comics involved with the creation of this comic series should all be congratulated on creating one of the greatest comic book stories ever written. Whew... I think I'm all worn out now... If you care anything about comic books, you SHOULD own these 9 comic books. I was able to purchase this Hardcover for $20, and after reading it, I would have been happy to have purchased it for $120.
I can see how the actions of All-Star Batman may be too dark for some people's taste, but I would still recommend anyone over the age of 14 to give this series a try. This series is a masterpiece in comic books, nay, literature, that should be experienced by practically everyone. I can tell you right now, I will be pestering the comic book readers in my family to read this hardcover as soon as possible. Hell, I'll be telling the non comic book readers in my family to read this book as well. There is no score I could possibly give this comic book that would do it justice. I know I've said that before, but I've never meant it more. If I had to score this comic on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a 1,000 out of 10. Buy this hardcover. Read this series. Trust me, you'll thank me for the recommendation in the end.