A bit on Annihilation Classic and Batman & Robin vol. 3: Batman & Robin Must DIE!

Batman & Robin Vol. 3: Batman & Robin Must Die!
Collecting Batman & Robin #'s 13-16, Batman: The Return one-shot
by Grant Morrison, Frazer Irving, David Finch, Cameron Stewart and Chris Burnham
DC Comics, $24.99

Ladies and gentlemen (but mostly ladies), I present to you the first thing you demanded when Dick Grayson was made Batman:
Shirtless Dick Grayson Batman. Two more key moments: in some strange form of karmic retribution, Damian whacks up the Joker with a crowbar, and Bruce Wayne rejoins Dick and Damian to take down the Black Mask and his 99 Fiends.

This third volume, while packed with as many wild ideas as the first, is not as strong due to the art. It's a bit static for the script, and removes the reader from the story. It's not that it's bad, it's that it's telling a slightly different story from the script, and that out-of-sync-ness (?) hurts the reading experience.

Anyways, important things happen to Batman (Bruce Wayne) here, particularly his return from the dead, the defeat of his father's impostor and his inauguration of Batman, Inc. I would've liked the art to have made it important to me.

Annihilation Classic
Collecting Bug #1, Tales to Astonish #13, Nova #1, Quasar #1, Rocket Raccoon #1-4, Marvel Spotlight #6, Logan's Run #6 and Marvel Premiere #1
Marvel Comics, $24.99

Annihilation Classic was published in 2009, and I do believe it was meant to capitalize on interest after the mega-epic Annihilation and its sequel, Annihilation Conquest, which revived many of Marvel's outer-space characters. These included aliens such as bug, Rocket Raccoon and Groot to humans-given-powers such as Nova, Quasar and Star-Lord. I'm gonna tell you right now that the humans weren't interesting. I don't really need to read another white-boy-gets-powers-and-saves-the-world-gets-the-girl story, so I found it a bit dull to read the origins of Nova, Quasar and the like.

Let's talk about the non-humans. Groot, the living tree from Planet X, had his origin in Tales to Astonish #13, which was from Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. It's pretty overwritten with a telegraphed conclusion, so the story's well past its expiration date. I was impressed with the first story, Bug #1, from Todd Dezago and Derec Aucoin, which tells not the origin of Bug, but an adventure of his through space and time. In a struggle against Annihilus over the Cosmic Rod, they find themselves transported to the different origins of classic Marvel heroes such as Spider-Man, the Hulk and even Dr. Stephen Strange.

The issue includes a bonus puzzles section, which is a wry and tasteful comment on Marvel Comics. I found Bug #1 to be an exceptional story, but my favorite was the Rocket Raccoon miniseries from Bill Mantlo, Keith Giffen and Mike Mignola.

These guys create a world, and suck you right into it. Rocket Raccoon is a Ranger of the Keystone Quadrant on a planet called Halfworld. The planet is inhabited by mental patients called "Loonies," and the animals are designated to entertain the Loonies, along with two toy companies called Spacewheel Industries and Mayhem Mekaniks. When the CEO of Spacewheel (Lord Dyvyne, a viper) starts a war for toy dominance against the CEO of Mayhem Mekaniks (Judson Jakes, a mole), it's up to Ranger Rocket and his band of adventurers to save the Loonies and Halfworld!

It's an adventure that reminded me of Star Wars (the good ones). There's color and life in every page, and I love the flair they put into the sound effects.

I wouldn't mind reading a second Rocket miniseries from the same creators of the first, or maybe a collection of Bug. While I found one half of Annihilation Classic boring and uninspired, I found the other half fresh and exciting. Take that how you will.

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