Comic Review – Robin War #1 (DC Comics)

Kit is taking over the weekly comic book review because Adam is in the unenviable position of attempting to finish off his PhD.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“But… but…I’m Robin… I’m Robin… I’m Robin…” Not the REAL Robin

So like Adam I’m up to my neck in work (and having to house hunt out of the blue… yay…) as well this week, but that just means I need my weekly comic book escapism that much more! So, what to pick this week? Well Robin War (written by Tom King, Art by Khary Randolph) caught my eye, I’ve been a huge fan of the Bat-Family over the years. Like many people I caught the tail end of the old Adam West Batman and Robin TV show as a kid, then went through the growing pains of the Bat-Family in the 90s. Since the Nolan bat films Batman himself has come into his own, but the Bat-Family hasn’t quite had the same love. But DC are putting some real effort into that now! We Are Robin! was great, I’m loving Batman and Robin Eternal, and reviews for Robin, Son of Batman are great. Now we get plenty of Robin, without the Batman.

Robin warSince Batman’s been off duty as such in the comics, many of the current comics have focussed on how Gotham is coping without him. For some back reading the first We Are Robin! is probably pretty essential for this. Kids around Gotham have teamed up under the Robin name to kick some criminal ass, barely tolerated by the police and the ex-Robins (Jason, Tim and Dick) keeping an eye on their progress. The story opens with a member of We Are Robin! taking on a pretty standard liquor store robbery. They’ve got the situation under control, but remember when you were a teenager? Would you be able to handle difficult, high stress, high danger situations? Now imagine you and all of your friends were doing it at the same time. It’s inevitable something would go wrong eventually. Well, something goes wrong. This is a very powerful start, and gripped me. Once things settle down the art does a fantastic job of portraying this Robin’s sudden loneliness. The art in general is of the same high standard you’d expect from DC. There’s often a lot of people crammed into one panel and Randolph does a great job of squeezing in plenty of detail.

Robins around Gotham are targeted after this crime, the Robin Laws are passed and there’s a huge police crackdown on the Robins and the police maybe could be showing a little more restraint. Wait… this is America… it’s about as much restraint a you’d expect! We also get introduced to the main players in this series: We Are Robin, Red Robin, Red Hood, the Mayor, Jim Gordon’s Batman, Dick Grayson and Robin. Actual Robin that is, Damian Wayne.

And how does Damian take returning to Gotham after a hiatus to see a load of kids running around using his title? About as well as you’d expect. He’ starts to stamp his authority all over everything.

After which, the puppet master pulling the strings makes their next move. They want a war, and the first casualty is claimed. They also seem oddly happy to find out one of the team has arrived in Gotham, it looks like we’ll be seeing the comeback of one of my favourite heroes in this series.

Final Verdict

Do you like Robin? Hell, do you like Batman in general? If you do, go and read this. Especially if you’re at all familiar with Gotham in the New 52 Universe. Only some minor criticisms for this first issue: without reading We Are Robin! and knowing what’s up with Bruce Wayne right now you’d probably be a bit lost. Also, I in no way see how the events of Robin War and Batman and Robin Eternal can be considered canon at the same time. So I’ll just use the usual comic book logic and pretend they both somehow happen simultaneously.

Final Score – 9.5 Robins out of 10!

Comic Review – We Are Robin! #1

Kit fills in for this week’s comic review!

“We’re not sidekicks. We’re an army! Are YOU ready?”

Seems there are a few new comics on the block this week and We Are… ROBIN! caught my eye, especially as it follows on from the outstanding Batman Endgame event. Lee Bermejo, Jorge Corona, Khary Randolph and Rob Haynes pick up Gotham where the Joker left it to give us a tale about many of those affected by Endgame.

With Bats busy working with the cops right now for reasons (read Endgame to find out why, it’s seriously worth it) and the rest of the Bat Family otherwise indisposed, crime in Gotham rages on. Especially after Endgame, so many lives were disrupted or destroyed during the event and things are very far from back to normal. So who’s going to tackle all this crime? Deal with the chaos and try to restore some kind of order? Not even the Bat can be everywhere at once.

We are Robin follows the lives of a group of teenagers whose lives have been turned upside down by the events of Endgame and Gotham generally being attacked every other Wednesday. Each of them has some sort of talent that can be put to use crime fighting. What I like about this is it seems that not one of them is amazing at everything, like most ‘human’ vigilantes (especially the Bats and Robins) are but they can all add something to the group. Together they coordinate vigilante justice around the city; using laptops, smart phones and every day tools everyone has to manage their city, each donning the colours of our favourite sidekick – Robin.

The story follows Duke Thomas, a youth who was separated from his parents thanks to the Joker’s shenanigans and hasn’t been able to stabilise his life since. He’s in and out of school and foster homes like they have revolving doors and goes out at night to look for his family. He’s also apparently a closet geek, which I always approve of. After getting into a scrap at his new school a teenage girl grabs a picture while the fight is broken up. She communicates to the ‘Nest’ (via whatsapp) that they’ve found him. Duke briefly met Batman, so Robin have been tracking him, they like his skills and want them to join their ranks.

After his next foster home doesn’t work out Duke goes out like normal, after accidentally stumbling onto what will probably be the series villain ruling a hobo commune in the sewers the Robins step in to kick some ass! A mysterious figure at the end seems to have been planning for something like this, he’s been watching their movements and appears to be ready to back up and supply the Robins with what they need. Their identity isn’t revealed… But I have a suspicion that it’ll be someone we’re already familiar with…

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Each of the Robins looks very unique; they’ve all put their own spin on the costumes to give a colourful group that’s full of character. I personally really like the angle of seeing how the fallout of a major event affects people who were just going about their lives before.

Overall I really enjoyed this comic. It’s a fresh take on the Robin idea outside of the kid adopted by the Bat. I also like the way Duke is recruited as such. It makes sense the city will eventually choose who will fight for it and not the other way around.

I’ll certainly be carrying on the series myself and want to see where it goes!

Score: 8.6 Robins out of a Nest