OK... so I've read the first two issues of All-Star Batman and Robin... and a few pages of All-Star Superman #1. And, as you've gathered if you already read my mini-reviews... I just don't get what's going on...
I could have sworn that the original announcement of the All-Star line said that these would be reader-friendly versions of the familiar characters, that wouldn't require knowing anything about current continuity.
But you know... the first two issues of ASB&R are already setting up continuity that many readers, even casual ones, would be confused by... for example, there's the whole thing about how Dick Grayson's parents were killed. How many times have we been shown in the comics that their trapeze was rigged to get them to fall to their deaths. Heck, I think even the Batman movie with the Robin origin had the same basic thing, didn't it?
The original Ultimate line from Marvel seemed to have promised the same thing, if I recall correctly (and maybe I'm not recalling it correctly), but I think that there was a good bet missed out there already... although Marvel did make up for it when they came out with their Marvel Adventures line.
So... you may be wondering... if I was going to be in charge of All-Star Batman and Robin, what would be my guidelines for it? Done.
Batman, aka Bruce Wayne. Bruce is a flakey playboy, at least that's how he presents himself. Batman is grim, but not all that gritty. He's the world's greatest freaking detective, and we need to see that. He's also an expert hand-to-hand combatant, and the world's greatest escape artist. His utility belt has state-of-the-art equipment, but most often, he uses his Batarangs and smoke pellets, plus his crime detection equipment. The Batmobile is the coolest car ever... but it doesn't fly! It could have some kind of jet-assist thing to jump over obstacles. It doesn't drive up buildings, and it doesn't have lethal weapondry. It's highly armored, and has a direct link to the Batcave's computers.
Robin, aka Dick Grayson. Dick is about 12-13 years old, and as a former circus acrobat, he's in excellent physical condition. In school, he is staying away from athletics, and concentrating on his studies. He gets excellent grades. Probably a bit introverted as Dick Grayson, although as Robin, he's a laughing daredevil, with a prediliction for puns. He's not grim at all, and is having the time of his life as Robin. He uses Batarangs, like his mentor, and delivers his smoke pellets using a slingshot. He's an eager student to Batman, learning about detective work, martial arts, and so forth. We should see scenes of Batman training Robin further, and when they're on a case, Batman would give Robin a chance to figure out the clues himself first.
Commissioner James Gordon. He's Batman's ally on the police force. Gordon trusts Batman implicitly, and when things are happening that he knows Gotham's police can't deal with, he'll contact Batman. Normally, he'll use a cell phone provided by Batman, but he knows the psychological value of using the Batsignal. He gets annoyed by Batman's tendency to "disappear" on him when the Dark Knight is visiting, and vows that he'll catch him at it some day.
Alfred Pennyworth. Bruce Wayne's butler and trusted friend. Alfred should be written like he is on Batman: The Animated Series... with dry wit, and devoted to supporting Batman and Robin.
Other characters can be brought into the mix, as well... Vicki Vale could be used, although she'd end up probably looking like a red-headed Lois Lane to the readers. Perhaps Gordon could be assisted by Chief O'Hara, since so many people know O'Hara from the Adam West series. Barbara Gordon could appear as Gordon's daughter, but I don't think there needs be a rush to introduce Batgirl. We may not need any regular police patrolmen or detectives, but it would be easy enough to use Harvey Bullock and Rene Montoya if we want, given the familiarity from Batman: The Animated Series.
Villains: We should use all the classic Batman rogues gallery villains... In fact, I don't see the point of not using one of them in every issue. The villains would be:
The Joker. No reference ever be made to his origin or "real name." The Joker is a lunatic, but there's no need to go too overboard with him... there should always be an element of humor to his crimes and actions, but still menacing. He won't try to unmask Batman, because if it weren't for Batman, what fun would crime be? That doesn't mean that he won't make an effort to kill the Caped Crusader... of course, he knows he won't succeed at it.
The Penguin. Bird and umbrella-related crimes galore. Gimmick umbrellas, too. No funky trained bird crimes that stretch credibility, though. He could use a trained parrot to provide distractions, or a magpie to steal jewels. He makes Shakespearean references, and acts very cultured.
The Catwoman. A daring thief, and she goes for cat-related crimes. Romantically interested in Batman, she isn't against using her feminine wiles to help her escape his clutches if need be.
The Riddler. Probably use him sparingly, but definite use of puzzle crimes. Maybe a bit more like the Adam West TV Riddler, sending riddle clues to all his crimes.
Two-Face. Classic Harvey Dent, all crimes relate to the number two.
Other villains: Mr. Freeze, Killer Croc, maybe even use Egghead! We could even bring back some obscure Batman villains, too, such as Calendar Man, Dr. Double X, and so on. Ra's Al Ghul could be used, too.
Stories. The series should be almost all one and two-part stories, at least for the first year or two. There could be continuing plotlines, but nothing too complex. We want readers to come back issue after issue, true, but we want to get new readers, as well.
There should also be some sort of feature page in each issue. This could take the form of "Batman's Crime Files," or something like that, with Batman's data on his various arch-foes, or perhaps even stuff out of Crimestopper's Textbook. Occasionally there could be a "Robin's Crime File," if we feel like it.
Of course, after writing all that, you know what? The Batman book that I was expecting was already done... it was DC's comic book version of the Bruce Timm animated series... the best Batman books written in years and years, and it's a damn shame it got cancelled to make room for The Batman Strikes!