Robin #1 takes place sometime after Azrael took Bruce Wayne’s place as Batman. The book begins with Robin (Tim Drake again,) being choked out by Azrael in the Batcave. Azrael loosens his grip after getting a hold of his sanity and Robin escapes in his car, Redbird. Now that he’s alone, Tim Drake must deal with average teenager problems. He has a girlfriend and a bully to deal with. Like always there is a criminal group, the Speedboyz, who jack car parts.
I think the key word today for this book is “bland.” Tim is bland, the plot is bland, and the supporting characters are bland. Without Batman, this version of Robin is lame. I liked Damian Wayne, Red Robin, and Nightwing when they work on their own, but this just doesn’t work for me. Being a generic high school story takes away a lot of the action and extraordinary possibilities. I do have some pros and they would be the art, which is pretty good, and the opening scene with Azrael is cool. The cons outweigh the pros but I can’t say this is rubbish, just above it.
The marathon continues with a look at Young Justice #1
Three sidekicks: Superboy, Robin (Tim Drake,) and Impulse are hanging out in the Batcave. They’re bored and they bicker back and forth over actually being a team until they awaken Red Tornado, who had withdrawn from society because he believed he had lost his own humanity. Red Tornado says that they annoyed him and that made him realize he still had some humanity. A crime at an archaeological site gets the team’s attention and they go after it. There’s a lot more here but I don’t want to spoil it.
One of the key elements of any superhero team is establishing a reason for the team’s existence. This first issue of Young Justice manages to do that, while not spending a lot of time dwelling on it. Red Tornado reveals that each member of the team falls into the three Freudian archetypes. This helps set up the origins of each character, while giving some kind of relation to each other. The writing gives every character a unique voice and manages to make each teenage character (who can and usually are written annoyingly,) more depth.
Another big thing in the book’s favor is the comedy. There’s a lot of meta commentary, but it doesn’t break the fourth wall or get distracting. Red Tornado saying he has 19 different files about Hawkman’s origin is pretty funny to me. They also play with the “random person touches an artifact and gets powers” cliche. The banter back and forth is worth a chuckle. In conclusion, it’s a solid, funny start to a series that I look forward to reading.
To celebrate the one year anniversary of Vintage Bullet on March 3rd I have decided to do another marathon. This will be a special #1 issue marathon. From today, February 26th to March 3rd I will review 1 #1 issue a day.
Now for the second story arc: Revenge of the Red Hood. This being a Grant Morrison work, the amount of symbolism that you are about to read will blow your mind. Also the artist for this arc is Philip Tan (Final Crisis: Revelations.)
We begin with a criminal named Lightning Bug mugging someone on a roof, because this is Gotham, where everything happens on a roof. The Batmobile floats up behind him and he cheeses it. He falls down a gap in the buildings and ends up in an alley. He is caught by what he thinks is Batman & Robin, but are actually Red Hood and Sasha, now calling herself Scarlet. They kill Lightning Bug and escape, leaving behind a red calling card, which Batman notes is the third time this week. We see the next night, where Dick is attending a social gathering. There he briefly meets Oberon Sexton, an English detective, known as the “Gravedigger.” Later, we see Batman & Robin watching in on a meeting of criminals, including the Penguin.
One of the criminals mention bringing in someone named Flamingo to deal with Red Hood. The meeting is interrupted when the aforementioned Hood interrupts and kills most of the attendants. Before he can kill Penguin, the Duo show up and they immediately recognize Jason Todd as the Red Hood. They fight for a little, until Jason decides to retreat, leaving Batman to arrest Penguin. We see that Scarlet was taking pictures of the fight, and that Jason is trying to be the competition to Batman’s “Brand” as he puts it. Commissioner Gordon interrogates the one surviving member, besides the Penguin, of Hood’s attack at the hospital. Later, Hood is trying to get info from the same guy, when the Duo rush in to save him. Batman & Robin are beaten, and are taken back to Hood’s hideout, where they are tied up and stripped.
Hood walks outside and is shot in the head by Flamingo, which only breaks his stupid helmet. Flamingo is revealed to be this Prince looking guy, but he is a brainless killer with a whip. He beats up Scarlet and Jason, until Robin interrupts him with a rocket launcher, and Batman kicks him in the face. He’s winning the fight until he gets knocked into a convenient cliff in the area. Batman manages to grapple back up, but not before Flamingo shoots Robin five times, paralyzing him. Jason picks up Flamingo with an industrial vehicle and drops him off the cliff, killing him. Things wrap up quick with Jason being arrested, Scarlet escaping while the doll mask falls off, and Jason ranting and raving that Damian will be healed by a Lazarus Pit, but that Dick won’t allow Bruce to come back because he’s afraid of being in his shadow. We end the book with Dick going into a hidden room in the Batcave with Bruce’s body preserved in it.
Yeah, if you read Final Crisis or anything surrounding it you know that’s not Batman’s body. Anyway, ratings time.
Plot: It’s definitely a Batman detective story, but with the slant of having a new Batman. The second arc is more the classic revenge story, but the interactions are smart.
Characters: Everyone fills the role you’d expect, Dick is unsure about being Batman, Damian is the bratty sidekick, and Alfred is their father figure. Sasha is a tragic character, and her finding happiness at the end is nice. Jason however, is just complex. He goes from father figure of Scarlet to social media savvy teenager with his own daddy issues.
Action: The action is pretty great, especially in the first arc. The comic boxes shift to slanted boxes that follow the battle, making it flow better.
Art: The art is solid, but in the first arc the characters have too many lines on them and look kind of puffy for it. It’s just odd to me.
Ending: The ending doesn’t work for me because I know that’s not Batman. I do kind of want to know who’s body is that, though.
Final Thoughts; And now it’s time for the symbolism. There’s a lot of references to Alan Moore’s previous works here, like the Joker’s carnival from The Killing Joke and Jason Todd’s resemblance to Rorschach from Watchmen. Another Killing Joke reference is Damian being crippled, and that Jason Todd refuses to turn himself in, like the Joker did. Anyway, the book was very good, and this symbolism is just fun stuff that Grant Morrison slips in. The downside would have to be Jason Todd’s character, but the new villains, Pyg and Flamingo, are great additions and I’d like to see more of Pyg.
Like I mentioned in Time Masters: Vanishing Point, Batman was sent back in time in Final Crisis, but Dick Grayson has taken up the cowl, and Bruce’s son Damian is still Robin. The magic touch of this book comes from its writer, Grant Morrison, who I praised for his first Batman story, Arkham Asylum. With art by Frank Quitely, (All-Star Superman) who has worked Morrison before, they obviously have formed a workplace connection, and it shows here.
We begin with the new Dynamic Duo, in a flying Batmobile, chasing after a criminal named Mr.Toad. They catch and interrogate him, but he speaks in European circus slang, which Dick is able to decipher back at the Batcave. Batman & Robin head over to the police station where Mr.Toad is freaking out and threatening that Professor Pyg is coming. An “extreme” circus troupe. Le Cirque D’Etrange, begins attacking the police station, so the Duo go to deal with them. We cut to a hotel where we see Professor Pyg attaching a doll face to another man’s face. The first issue ends with him preparing to do the same to the man’s daughter, Sasha.
Issue #2 begins with Batman at the Batcave, looking sad, and telling Alfred about what’s wrong. We have a flashback where Batman & Robin are fighting against the Circus of Strange (Big Top, a fat man wearing a tutu, Siam, conjoined triplets, and Phosphorous Rex, a man on fire looking for any excuse to burn brighter.) They beat them all, but Damian doesn’t listen to Dick, and gives Big Top a concussion. Damian says he knows where Pyg is, and rides off in his motorcycle to a carnival. Back in the present, Alfred gives Dick advice how to be Batman and how to deal with Damian. Inspired, Dick rides off to go save Damian, who has been knocked out by Pyg’s hechman, the Dollotrons.
Issue #3 begins with Batman dragging Phosphorous Rex through the streets on his own bike. He learns where Pyg is, and we cut to Damian waking up, tied to a chair. He prepares to put a mask on Damian by…uh… I don’t even know how to explain what Pyg is doing. Anyway, Damian has had enough of this crazy ☠☠☠☠ and breaks free from his bonds and beats up Pyg. One of the Dollotrons in the room turns out to be Sasha, who lights up Pyg with a candle. Pyg, on fire and looking for any excuse to burn brighter, runs out of the room onto a roller coaster track.
Damian chases after him, but has to leave Sasha behind. Pyg hits Damian with a burning 2×4, knocking him down. He goes to finish him off, but Dick arrives and punches Pyg. Soon the cops arrive and arrest Pyg, who was trying to release an identity-destroying disease, which Batman finds an antidote for. We cut to a hospital, where Sasha has been taken too. She kills her father, and is about to be caught when the cops are all shot to death. The shooter offers Sasha to join him, and he is revealed to be the Red Hood, with a ridiculous helmet and a collar even bigger than Harrison’s.
Next time we’ll finish this graphic novel, but I will say now this is the better story arc in it. Also I’ll be moving the pictures to the center, instead of the sides. We’ll see how this looks.