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New Robins of Spring

I’ve added some new Robins to my collection this year…and most recently, my first-ever “new in package” Eaglemoss figurine!

robin_eaglemoss_box_front

I’ve been contemplating ordering this one for awhile, but held off awhile. I finally pulled the trigger and ordered it, actually expecting it to be “loose,” though hopefully well-packed. I was pleasantly-surprised to get it still in its package, which afforded me a little more context on these figures than I’d seen so far.

robin_eaglemoss_box_back

For one thing, definitely cool to see more, including a number of ones I do not have. I’d gotten the Penguin and Ra’s Al Ghul, but the rest of these are new (to me). Definitely VERY interested in the Superman one, as well as Green Arrow and this version of Batgirl!

newer_robins

Along with the Eaglemoss figurine, other recent additions include the Batman: The Animated Series Robin from Funko, though this one’s one of my Tim Drake exceptions, as I’ve found myself increasingly interested in figures and such of all the Robins, not just Tim.

Then there’s the Imaginext version of Tim’s Robin, as well as the Imaginext version of Red Robin. And finally, the elusive Mighty Minis version of Red Robin.

most_robins_in_context

These join a few of my other Robins, as well as the other Eaglemoss figurines and other Mighty Minis and such. Not in this particular photo are a 12″ Robin from the Batman Unlimited “Titan Heroes” line, a Robin bust bank, a huge version of that Dorbz Robin, and at least one shot glass.

robin_eaglemoss_box_booklet

This is the booklet that came with the Eaglemoss figure…while this is not my favorite version of the costume, it is Tim Drake, and I want to say he was in it for several years before going to the Red Robin thing for a couple years, before the New 52 stuff.

I do look forward to actually reading through this booklet, though I wonder at its take on the character, and what I’ll learn from it or if it’ll seem “off” to me, considering I’ve largely followed the character (off and on) since 1989. (Just think: in 2 more years, Tim Drake will have been around for 30 years! More than 1/3 the entire existence of the Batman comics!)

most_robins_in_context_blogtrailer

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Super Sons #1 [Review]

super_sons_0001When I Grow Up… part one

Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: Jimenez and Sanchez
Associate Editor: Paul Kaminski
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: April 2017
Cover Price: $2.99

I’ve been looking forward to this title for quite some time…for a number of reasons. One being the fondness with which I recall reading some of the "classic" "Super Sons" stories in Grandpa’s old comics. Another being the inspired nature of putting Damian and new Superboy Jon Kent together and seeing the two playing off each other–my having come to "accept" Damian, and being quite open to the possibilities of a Superboy who is not "just" Superman as a boy or an adopted "clone" or such…but the biological, actual SON of Superman. Then there’s the simple fun of "Son of Batman" with "Son of Superman" and their being kids, and far less "need" for decorum, professionalism, etc. As kids…there’s bound to be a certain lack of a "filter" and hijinks can ensue.

We open with a creepy-ish scene with a family that reminds me a bit of that episode of The Twilight ZoneIt’s a Good Life–with a kid having a family/town in thrall. Then we jump into some action with Robin and Superboy racing away from a crowd of creepy doppelgangers of themselves. And then…we jump to the recent past to see how they got there. We follow Jon on an otherwise normal day, seeing him dealing with being a kid, going to school, and trying to stand up for someone who can’t otherwise stand up for themself, while he HAS the power to do something. We also see Damian dealt with parentally by Batman, forced to face academics rather than action. Of course, he winds up sneaking out anyway, and enlists Jon’s assistance, as Superboy and Robin are on the case. Little realizing what an appropriate adult figure they’d bump into…the boys are in trouble, one way or the other, and we’re but one issue in.

I don’t know what I expected, exactly, from this series, outside of the hype and promise of its potential (see my opening paragraph). I’m at once drawn to, yet put off by, the art. It has a clear, energetic quality to it, a bit cartoony without being ridiculous. And I suppose it reminds me a bit of the look of the Young Justice series from the ’90s somehow, though that may just be a track of thought with no fruit…the mind can be a funny thing sometimes.

The art certainly fits the title, but I guess visually I was just expecting something more along the lines of Jim Lee, Ed Benes, or some other familiar/iconic Superman and/or Batman artist.

So while not my first choice, the art IS good, fits the story, and one can follow the action and such just fine. I’m sure it will grow on me, and become iconic in its own way, if there’s not a rotating art team or such on this title.

Story-wise, this fit in quite well with the "backdoor pilot" story we had a couple months ago in the Superman title, as well as fitting with what I’ve read of both Jon and Damian over the years in general.

We seem to be getting a new "villain" for the story, some new threat that is NOT just the kids facing some cheesy or cast-off villain from their dads’ rogues gallery(ies). And though the dads are part of the story, the story is not about them–they’re rather typically incidental.

But we’re also given plenty of first-issue material here (which is good since this IS a first issue!) in being introduced to the title characters, their supporting cast/relevant family, see them in their own elements, together, and then they’re brought together TO "team up," and encounter a threat that may be beyond either of them individually…and then a direct encounter with someone neither one of them would WANT to encounter.

This is a rich issue for me, having read plenty of (older) Batman and Robin stuff, and plenty of stuff throughout Damian’s 12-ish year existence, as well as the past 8-9 months of Rebirth-era Superman stuff, and the earlier Lois and Clark mini that came out of the events of Convergence (itself nearly 2 years ago). But just knowing tangentially that these are the biological, actual SONS of Superman and Batman, you can jump in and pick up from this issue alone, with its own context and  such.

The primary drawback here is that this is but one issue, and compared to the biweekly main Superman/Action and Batman/Detective books I believe this is monthly…so it’s going to seem drawn out. And though elements I’d expect of a first issue are here, it’s "just" part one of the story, and I’d be quite shocked if this is any less than 6 chapters…this feels like a solid opening chapter of a serialized graphic novel.

All in all, if you have enjoyed these characters in the past–individually or their "team-up" in Superman a couple months back–or are at all intrigued at the notion of the sons of Superman and Batman interacting/having their own adventures…this is a good start. I’ll certainly be giving it another issue or so myself before deciding if it fully seems more worthy of a graphic novel than being strung out as single issues.

For now? It’s only $2.99, and well worth at least giving it this single issue to get your interest up, with what it shows AND what it "promises."

My "history" with Robin and dead sidekicks

ghostrobinMy earliest experiences with “current” Batman comics was back in Spring 1989, and involved the end of Batman: Year 3 and the start of Batman: A Lonely Place of Dying, as well as The Mud Pack that ran in Detective Comics.

I remember being surprised to learn that Robin had DIED. Here on the cover of Detective #606, we see Batman before the grave, Robin’s ghost pointing accusingly at him.

In the issue itself, it turns out that Batman’s facing a shape-shifter, momentarily rocked by seeing Robin “alive” before the realization of a shape-shifter kicked in.

For me, as an 8-year-old, this was Big Stuff, though. I knew there was a gap between my grandfather’s comics and these…and the fact that Robin had died since Grandpa’s comics really illustrated (to me) that this was an older Batman. I didn’t know much about “continuity” at the time, but I “got” the passage of time and “knew” characters had grown/changed/etc.

I gradually pieced things together from Continuity (yeah, even an 8-11 year old could do that, back in ’89-’92!) and learned that 1. this was a SECOND Robin, that had died–the original had gotten older and became Nightwing; and 2. he’d been beaten to death by the Joker.

deadrobin01

Thanks to the local library system, I was eventually able to access and read the tpb of A Death in the Family, witnessing the death of Jason Todd for myself.

Meanwhile, though extremely sporadic, I was around for Tim Drake’s introduction as Robin–first in A Lonely Place of Dying, and then in 1992 where he was still fairly inexperienced, shortly before Knightfall and his rapid growing up and graduation to his own solo book, etc. (I’d missed much of his training and officially taking the name Robin in the DCU, though.)

II got the Robin III: Cry of the Huntress mini-series, and the first couple issues of the ongoing series, and had picked up the Eclipso: The Darkness Within annual.

I got back into the series a few years later around #50; backtracked immediately to #46 or 47 and kept up with the title; a couple years later I bought a set of the first 40 issues, and tracked down the intervening specific issues, such that by the time the series hit #100 I had the full run to that point. I fell away from the title for a couple years, but again tracked down the back issues to fill in the gap, and kept up for several years.

deadrobinstephanie

I was there for the all-too-short span of time that Stephanie Brown was the “first” female Robin, and her apparent demise in the War Games event. I read Identity Crisis as the issues came out, and was horrified and moved at the death of Tim’s father.

I used One Year Later as a jumping-off point, but got sucked back in around the Batman: RIP story, and yet again filled in the gap. I then continued into the first year or so of the Red Robin series, when Damian Wayne was made the new Robin for Batman and Robin, when Dick had taken over in Bruce’s absence. I’ve yet to track down the latter half of the Red Robin series, though it’s on my to-do list.

I picked up the first several issues of the New 52 Teen Titans run specifically for Tim Drake/Red Robin, but for a number of reasons basically gave up on the New 52 as a whole.

And now, this week, I picked up Batman, Inc. #8, and witnessed the death of another Robin.

deadrobin02

It’s been a long run. I started out 4 years younger than Tim Drake, and now I’m 2 1/2 times the age he was in Lonely Place of Dying. I’ve seen him grow into the role, and learned of Jason’s past, and saw the interaction/brotherly relationship develop between Dick and Tim. Saw Tim leave the role for a bit, with Stephanie Brown stepping in; then her “death” and Tim returned to the role.

batman676After the supposed “death” of Batman in Final Crisis when Dick took over as Batman, it seemed like Tim was kinda shoved out of the way so that the then-still-fairly-new character Damian could officially be Robin.

And now Damian’s dead, and I’m curious about where the Bat-books will go from here, how Batman will be portrayed in light of this new loss.

While we didn’t know at the time that Stephanie Brown wasn’t dead, not much was really done in light of her death; not the way there was with Jason Todd died. No Robin suit in the Batcave, and not much seemed to be done showing Batman without a Robin (Dick and Tim were still around).

But this seems likely to be more on the scale of Jason’s death.

batmaninc(vol2)008In the “meta” sense–interviews, rumors, hearsay–it seems likely this character death may be pretty final. At the least, this is rather sudden–seems just a couple weeks ago Death of the Family ended, we saw that Damian (and the others) were (physically) ok, and it seemed a bullet had been dodged–no major character in the Bat-family had been killed.

Then the “news” broke the other day, Batman, Inc. #8 spoiled quite handily DAYS before the issue went on sale.

So there’s the marketing, the hype, the spoilers, the speculation (I emailed my LCS Monday morning, so a copy of the issue was waiting for me at my convenience Wednesday).

Yet, there’s that Death’s Revolving Door in comics…a character dies only to be back within a few months or a couple of years.

Shamefully…I’m finding myself with a rekindled interest in Robin; in all the Robins…and especially in the idea of catching up on both iterations of the Batman and Robin title; possibly other Bat-books in general.

Batman Incorporated #8 [Review]

batmaninc(vol2)008The Boy Wonder Returns

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Art (pgs 6-9): Jason Masters
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Associate Editor: Rickey Purdin
Group Editor: Mike Marts
Covers: Chris Burnham with Nathan Fairbairn
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

DC suckered me.

I’d read and heard rumors throughout the Death of the Family stuff going on that we might get a “big death” in the bat-family, and it seemed like most guesses were going toward either Alfred or Damian. Of course, that proved to be yet another Major Joker Story where the scary madman doesn’t actually kill any major characters.

Then I caught wind of this issue–and as the bulk of the comic fans On The Internet learned a couple days ago…this issue gives us that “big death.” Thanks to DC, the “news” was out days before the issue, SPOILING its otherwise surprise for many comic readers–myself included. I’m almost ashamed to say that the spoiler/confirmation of the “big death” prompted me to get this issue.

I recall picking up the reprint of Son of the Demon a few years back, when Morrison‘s run started–and I’m pretty sure I picked up the first couple issues, at least, of his run, not long after Infinite Crisis. With this slightly-muddled memory of being there at the beginning, I wanted to be here at the end. And…my very first Batman comics were less than a year after the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd.

So, Batman Inc. #8…that’s what this review should focus on, right?

This is my first issue of the title. Batman Inc. was not part of the first wave of New 52 titles, and so I gave it a pass when it did premiere. I don’t think I even got around to reading any issues of the original iteration preNew 52. So other than the loose concept–that Batman has agents all over the place in a more formalized structure–I come to this cold.

This issue opens with Robin (Damian…I’m still not totally used to Robin NOT being Tim Drake) flying into an ongoing battle, and connecting with Nightwing. Meanwhile, Batman is fighting against Talia al Ghul (Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, mother of Damian). Red Robin’s part of the mix, fighting elsewhere. Nightwing and Robin have a moment–the original Robin and current Robin, on their own time as Batman & Robin. Enter an armored warrior from Talia’s end, and the two realize they’re in trouble. Nightwing falls, leaving Robin to stand against this Goliath-figure.

As Robin leaps to the attack, agents outside the fight interfere, and the boy is wounded numerous times, while calling out to his parents to stop this fight.

And for the third time…Batman finds himself with a dead Robin…perhaps the most personal of all, as Damian was his own flesh-and-blood son.

Story-wise…this is a painful issue. Most of the fighting fits, and seems like just another large-scale incident with superheroes involved in some city-wide invasion or such. But the scene of Damian’s battle is just…brutal. Despite all I know of the character–and the character certainly being “old before his time,” this is still a child…and it’s (to say the least) not at all a comfortable scene. I have no idea what Batman and Talia are fighting about this time, the details of their present issues…maybe I’ll find out via Wikipedia or listening to the inevitable podcasts covering this issue, etc.

Visually, I have no problem with the art–even the multiple artists didn’t throw me at all. Reading the issue, I just kinda sped through, taking in what’s going on, and honestly would not even have NOTICED there were multiple artists had I not specifically read the credits to list above for this review.

It was probably a mistake for me to give in and allow much weight be given to this issue. “The death scene” is only a couple pages, and easily recapped. Unlike 1988’s A Death in the Family, I’m reading only a single issue, so it’s not like this is the culmination of several issues’ reading, building to a climactic moment. This is me having a specific moment spoiled by mass media and deciding to read the issue for myself rather than simply read ABOUT it.

As a standalone issue, I’m not all that thrilled with this. I didn’t really pick up on much context of the “why” to the fighting or other context (I’m sure this’ll make more sense read in a collected volume, in-context). But sadly…I got what I paid for. I witnessed the brutal death of another Robin…a visual I’m uncomfortable with, yet get to live with today, and moving forward.

Batman #700 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 3/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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