12 August 2012

The Kidd-Millionaire Robin

The book designer and comic-book critic Chip Kidd recently published a Batman adventure subtitled Death by Design, with art by Dave Taylor. Impressive as that volume looks, it doesn’t feature Robin, so I haven’t sat down to read it.

Death by Design isn’t Kidd’s first Batman story, however. A few years back he scripted two adventures drawn by Tony Millionaire for DC’s self-parodying Bizarro Comics and Bizarro World collections. “The Bat-Man” reads and looks like an underground-comics version of the earliest, solo Batman adventures. A version of the Penguin hypnotizes Bruce Wayne’s fiancée, Julie Madison, as well as holding sway over a giant ape—things that a vampirical villain called the Monk did in Batman, #31-2.

Kidd and Millionaire’s “Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder” is a classic “Boy Hostage” story crossed with the high Gothic supernatural tone that dominated that first year of Batman tales. This time the villain is the Monk himself. Through completely unexplained means he kidnaps Robin’s consciousness, traps it in the body of a caged bird, and makes Robin’s body act evil. (See panel above.)

Back in 1939, Batman eliminated the Monk by shooting silver bullets into his coffin before Robin ever swung onto the scene. Once Dick Grayson appeared in April 1940, along with new chief editor Whitney Ellsworth, Batman’s guns and killing and the Gothic milieu all went away for decades. Kidd and Millionaire thus offer a taste of what the Dynamic Duo’s adventures might have been like if that hadn’t happened.

TOMORROW: When Batman went goth again.

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