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The ’90s Revisited: Robin #1

90s_revisited

robin001Big Bad World

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Tom Lyle
Inker: Bob Smith
Letterer: Tim Harkins
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Editors: Dan Raspler, Denny O’Neil
Cover: Brian Bolland
Published by: DC Comcis
Cover Date: January 1991
Cover Price: $1.00

I’ve read this issue before. This might even be the third time I’ve read it–I’m not sure at this point. But for this particular read-through…it came about because I wanted the POSTER that was bound into the issue, without having to rummage through a bunch of unsorted longboxes–so I bought a copy just for the poster. But since I was "handling" the issue, I decided to read it…and quite enjoyed it overall, though unfortunately not quite as much as I’d thought I would.

I’m pretty sure this issue picks up essentially from the pages of a Batman issue, as I seem to recall a scene of Tim debuting the new costume before Bruce and Alfred; but that’s clearly already happened by the time this issue opens.

We open on Tim in the Batcave with Bruce; wearing the then-new (but now highly familiar to me) ’90s Robin costume–the red body, wide yellow belt, green pants, tall/dark boots…and the stylized "R"; as well as the two-colored cape: yellow on the inside, the classic yellow; but black on the outside, so he can wrap into it and blend into shadows same as Batman…not "glow in the dark" or such. The two discuss Tim’s readiness TO be the new Robin, in a bit of Tim’s doubt that I don’t quite remember, but fits for the time. Tim decides to further ready himself, now that he’s "passed" Batman’s training is to take his own journey to train with others in preparation for his role. He heads to Europe, where we quickly learn that another figure from Batman’s past is active: Shiva. Meanwhile, Tim finds the master he sought, though some details aren’t as he expected. He gets drawn into a situation that calls for what Robin can do, that Tim Drake can’t, and gains a potential ally, even as he considers what it’d mean to fail, to let down the Batman.

Which is all a grandiose, vague summary of the issue. It’s interesting to consider a number of "firsts" at the time this was released–first action in the new costume, first "solo" Tim Drake adventure, Tim’s first issue as Robin, first issue of any series–mini or otherwise–of the solo-billed Robin title, etc. And I’ll be doggonned if I am aware of any variant covers. Really! All these firsts…and other than (perhaps) a second printing or such, or maybe some kind of foil-y something or other that I’m not consciously aware of at present, this is THE issue. Period. One cover. One issue. A Brian Bolland image.

Story-wise, this is a very solid first issue. Though I mentioned recollection of a scene preceding this, that’s not integral to this issue. We simply pick up on Tim in costume, apparently freshly made officially Robin, and through dialogue get a bit more detail to fill in gaps on his background and our getting here. He’s given a ‘quest’, we’re introduced to threats and antagonists in addition to the self-set challenge, and get drawn into the story.

I said above I didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I would–it’s a good issue, and fairly enjoyable in and of itself; certainly nostalgic…especially for me. But that’s part of the problem. One of Tim’s first couple cameos before his full appearance in A Lonely Place of Dying was my first-ever Batman comic…this character was introduced AS I got into comics, and is still around. But this issue by itself–not re-reading the lead-up, not having the rest of the issues handy nor the time to read their contents in one of the TPBs, this is just a snippet of early-Tim Drake stuff. And since this isn’t an ongoing series but "merely" a finite five-issue story, there’s less "need" for the kind of hook an ongoing might need…and I think I frustrated myself not being able to just read the whole story handily in one go.

robin001_posterThe art is quite good, and rather iconic to me. Looking at this, it just screams "early Tim/Robin" to me. The cover isn’t horrible…but the way Robin’s face is, this has gotta be one of the creepiest-looking Robins I can think of! The costume, cape, etc work…but the face just doesn’t fit Tim. I also like that the "corner art" seems to be a carryover from what I recall offhand of the main Batman issues, cementing this as what it is–its own thing, starring Batman’s sidekick, but in a solo title that does NOT emphasize Batman.

If you find this in a bargain bin–or heck, find it for $2 or under, I highly recommend it! Particularly if you’re a fan of Robin, or specifically Tim Drake. But I’d recommend trying to acquire the entire 5-issue mini-series rather than just this isolated issue.

Unless you want the poster…in which case, that ALONE is worth at least a couple dollars!

robin001_blogtrailer

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Robin #183 [Review]

Last Rites: Robin Dies at Dawn!

Storytellers: Fabian Nicieza & Freddie Williams II
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Colors: Guy Major
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Cover: Freddie Williams II
Publisher: DC Comics

Robin’s ally on the GCPD receives a note suggesting that at dawn, Robin will die. It is quickly determined that it is from Lady Shiva–one of THE most dangerous individuals in the world (and the woman against whom Tim Drake proved his mettle at the beginning of his career, showing that he had what it takes to BE Robin). As he faces his own “final night,” Tim/Robin touches base with–or tries to–with some key individuals in his life. Toward the story’s end, having prepared himself for what he is to face, Robin once again goes up against Shiva in mortal combat.

The art for this books is pretty good. I’m not sure if the artist’s style has changed or if I’m thinking of a different artist, but I like this far better than I liked the artwork on this title pre-One Year Later. I still find it sorta strange seeing Robin’s black-and-red costume after so many years of the other; ditto Tim’s longer hair. But really, both aspects of the visual show growth and change in the character–it’s great to be able to see that even as the character has matured, the visuals have matured to go with the overall maturation.

I’ve been following this title rather sporatically lately–an issue here, an issue there, so I can’t speak to where this plays in terms of the overall continuity. The story I found here was rather fitting, though, for a final issue–we got to see Tim interact with a number of characters who I’m familiar with (and one I think I am, but not sure), sorta touching base with them on this possible final night, before he steps up to face his responsibilities. I’m not sure how many issues now (between the actual RIP tie-ins and the Last Rites semi-arc) this title has featured Robin solo withOUT Batman. It’s rather like the series’ beginnings during the Knightfall arc when Jean-Paul kicked Robin out of the Cave to fend for himself. Bruce was gone then, and Bruce is gone now…but the details and characters are different.

Though pretty well done, this does feel a bit rushed–and we know Tim’s part of the Battle for the Cowl–so this basically just touches on stuff, offers some sentimentality, but then we’re going to follow the character to another writer and possibly huge status quo changes.

Origins & Omens
Story: Fabin Nicieza
Art & Colors: Freddie Williams II
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Ass’t Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts

This backup–like the “main story”–touches on stuff going all the way back to the earliest days of Tim Drake–I believe back to even before his very first MINI-series. We see him fighting the man who killed his mother, and facing a choice between vengeance and justice–a choice that apparently is going to have some definite impact on the future of this character.

The art’s decent, but not wonderful–I don’t like it nearly as well as I liked the art in the main story. On the whole I could’ve really done without this backup (or enjoyed a text/prose page or journal entry from Tim in its place).

All in all, as final issues go, this isn’t the best, but certainly isn’t the worst. As a standard comic with no fancy covers or extra pages/higher price and such–that just happens to be the last for this title–it’s fitting…especially since we know it’s not the end of the starring character.

Recommended mainly for regular readers of the most recent stuff…but as a lapsed reader who read all 3 original minis and then followed the first 120-some issues of this title…it’s also worth while to see where Robin’s wound up.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

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