IGN has a few pages of a BATMAN AND ROBIN #2 preview by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. It’s hard to overstate how brilliant Quitely’s storytelling and characterization are on even this single page. Panel 1 — the “death from above” shot, perfectly executed, but the angle emphasizing Batman and Robin’s viewpoint — they’re not unleashed, not yet, they’re just floating into the scene. In panel two there are two amazing things happening. #1 is the crab-like outline of Dick Grayson/Batman’s cape…it’s engulfing him, obliterating him…he’s just a tiny head. The mantle of Batman is literally swallowing him. And then there’s Damian/Robin’s curious hunched posture…he just landed with a lot of momentum, but the ground has sucked all the energy out of him, leaving him literally skulking in. Damian’s flawed, difficult character is the heart and plot of this book, and Quitely encapsulates it all in this one drawing.

After those two epic panels, a third is almost too much, but once again, the masks and rituals of the Bat-man garb are transforming the two people inside them. Slit-eyed, dangerous…how can they even SEE?

Whew! We’re just gonna explode when we get the whole book, aren’t we?


  1. While I agree that Quietly / Morrison are doing good work, let’s not dismiss the colorist’s job here (Alex Sinclair). a LOT of the atmosphere on this page (and others) is attributed to his work, as well. I like Quietly’s linework… but it is WIDE open with little feathering. This means the colorist ends up doing a lot of rendering and “painting” shapes, shadows, forms, et. (See the clouds in issue #1, the cape in the art above, et).

    We should commend the “team”, not just the two front men – though of course they are key to the entire ball of wax. It just concerns me that sometimes the other credits go missing when reviewing books, in general.

  2. I am finally reading All Star Superman (they got the first two volumes at the library) and am having a great time with it. The writing is fun (and I think Morrison has been enjoying Moore’s Supreme) and Quietly is such a joy to look at. I do spend a lot of time with the comics I read, going back and forth though the pages, studying the art, re-reading parts of the story. It takes me a long time to get through a comic book. You can’t love a comic on a computer screen like that, any more than you could say, love a woman on a screen. *titter* Sorry. I’ll also agree with Jimmie on his point about Alex Sinclair. A good colorist can make or break a comic, and I feel so excited when I look at the work that most of today’s colorists are doing.

  3. I’m sure the fact that Batman is saying “You called, Commissioner Gordon.” instead of “You called, Commissioner Gordon?” probably has some cool deeper meaning, but I don’t know what it is. Struck me as a punctuation error when I first saw it.

  4. I love Quitely’s work. The inking on this book, compared to All-Star Superman, is much better. I thought the computer inking was weak and some of the line weights were inadequate on the previous book. The story has the right amount of mystery and creepiness also. It’s my new favorite!

  5. I’m loving this book and the Morrison/Quitely teamup. I agree with Jimmie about the importance of Sinclair’s coloring, but I have to wonder if it’s been overly compressed or something on the way to the printer. Maybe it’s intentional, but somehow all the shadow gradients look like they’ve been posterized or run through the “Hard Light” filter in photoshop, resulting in kind of a “synthetic” look overall. It stood out at me reading the first issue and it’s pretty hard to miss in the above preview.

  6. Taking Batman’s POV in the first panel is smart, and a refreshing change from superhero cliche. Kudos to Quitely for finding new ways to do such well-worn material…proof that capes books don’t HAVE to be by-the-numbers. I really should check out more of his stuff.

  7. Glenn:

    Say the two sentences aloud with the different punctuation. They have very different meanings. With the period and the “called” emphasized, Batman is saying firmly, after a mysterious absence, “You called. And we are here to help.”

    But with a question mark, it’s much less firm. With the question mark, it means “What can we do to help?” as opposed to “We are on the job.”

    It’s very nuanced, but it’s not a typo.

    God, I love being a writer.

  8. @ The Beat –
    You know, I wish the people at TwoMorrows had contacted you about writing articles for “Draw” or “Write Now”. Your post helped me to see why this page works and the storytelling methods used to make it do what it does. Bravo! More, please!

  9. These two guys are the best. I haven’t picked this book up yet, it’s waiting for me at the store. Can’t wait!

  10. Thanks, Chris!

    One of the things I found disappointing about (not to pick on them because I know it’s not published anymore) “WriteNow” was that it offered little real analysis of why something worked and why something could have been finagled a bit to work better. Like, you know, real analysis. I know some of it might have seemed awfully basic at times, but it would have been constructive.

    Reading your analysis above was like having something obvious pointed out to me, but which I would have missed because I was too involved with the storyline to notice. Someone in the field might say “Well, what he did here in these panels is obvious”, but to someone like me whose days are filled with the details of parenting and husbanding (and who is toying with the idea of webcomics publishing) this was a gentle knock to the head to get me thinking in a different way.

  11. Sphinx, I have no idea of Quitley’s choices were conscious or if he would vocalize them in antyhing like the same way — dunno how he works.

    However, one of the joys of my career has been hanging around with creative people of the highest calibre and hearing them talk about small details like this that go into their work. Eisner was a great speaker on this kind of stuff; Kubert is a great speaker. Ultimately it’s very inspiring.

    Also, Jimmie, you are right, the amazing Alex Sinclair is very much part of the team that makes this page so engrossing.

  12. But Heidi, there’s a lot of noise on the Interweb and it’s not often I get to see a nice inspiring article about good storytelling or design or whatever. I’d like to see more of that.