Monday, December 21, 2015

Robin War #1

I was going to start with Red Hood/Arsenal but the editor notes said it takes place during this.


Bruce Wayne lost his memories of being Batman and wanted a normal life. Alfred has been going to extremes to keep Bruces' kids out of sight and didn't bother to explain Bruce was alive (at least to Jason.) Or inform them of his current project. He's been funding and putting together hundreds of kids to be "Robin." Alfred hasn't been hands on like Bruce and has kept his distance. One of the kids died from an explosion prior to this event.

We start with one of the reasons why Alfreds' scheme was doomed to blow up as one of his recruits (that looks kind of Harper like) holds a gun on a liqueur store robber. The kid is so distracted by explaining himself to a cop that the robber kicks him aside to attack the cop. Panicking the kid kills the robber and apparently the cop by accident. Naturally this starts a media storm about the negative influence the Robins have. The sad fact is these people are absolutely right and have every reason to be pissed. Even working with this worlds' logic where no one blinked at Batman having young sidekicks this is unbelievably irresponsible. The cops' wife is right, her husband was trained and Alfred never bothered to train these kids.

Because of his negligence they have passed a new legislation known as Robin laws. Which basically means they will arrest anyone involved in the movement and dressed in Robin clothes. The cops seem to take pleasure in cuffing and abusing those they find. This has already affected the WAR crew as Riko has been put into Gotham Academy after her parents saw her with Robin stuff. Duke figures everything will blow over and once they find who was involved in the shooting he can explain what happened. This immediately is proven wrong as a cop hassles Duke over his shoes because their red which is a Robin color. He gets arrested as the cops then go to Gotham Academy to search it.

I love that Dukes' trying to explain why being arrested is bogus while going on to prove to us the audience that he's one of the Robins. He jumps out of the car as soon as the cop tells him where they are. Once swimming to shore he calls for a meeting with the others. Unsurprisingly Noctua wants a mask of her own, she wants to be a member of the Court of Owls. They don't want to give her one because she's not from one of Gothams' rich families.

Much to my surprise Jason is the first official Robin to show up in this event. He watches tv and talks with a loudmouth over it. It goes where you think it does. Tim and Jason have some very awkward exposition explaining the fact Tim wasn't actually a Robin in this canon although he's stalking the unofficial Robins. For some reason Jason is for these untrained kids meeting to discuss their options like "real Robins." Uh, does King realize Jason doesn't feel like he was more than a placeholder? He was also ticked at Tim replacing him and has no problem with this set up? Anyway Tim reminds him that the real Robin isn't going to be too pleased.

Duke tells the other unofficial Robins that they need the shooter to come forward to show they can take responsibility. It might of worked if Damian didn't appear to tell them off for messing with the name he earned. He tells them to all disband and when Duke tries to talk he attacks. He tells them off as Batman trains Robin and instead of ending this maturely Duke decides they should all fight Damian. It seems like between panels a fire spread to two building? Either the Owls set this up or Damian is fighting dirty. Gordon gets called in to deal with it pointing out these are children. There's a nice parallel between Noctua/Gordon and the Robins. When he enters everyone except Damian gets on the ground. By being able to outmaneuver Gordon our youngest Robin proves he's the real deal impressing the impostors.

Jason and Tim arrive, Damian is an ass to them. Jason wants to help the kids, Tim wants to understand the situation better and Damian just want to beat people up. More forced laughs to make Tim the smart one and Jason the brute. Because we're supposed to find out of character moments funny? Dick is called in.

Travis, the guy that killed the robber and cop comes clean to Duke. After hearing the truth Duke says its up to him to decide what to do. The reason Travis sings the trapeze song is because Dick saved him and sang it. A Talon kills him when he's alone. The Count of Owls was banking on Dick being contacted and are pleased. They talk about Nightwing returning...hmm.

Overall: It was pretty good except--ironically--for some sections with the real Robins.

For some idiotic reason Jason is in a bar. Seriously stop having Jason in bars drinking! Is this like DC doing a substitute for the smoking to show he's a rebel? His best friend has a drinking problem, Jason's under 21 and it pisses me off every time we get these forced scenes. When you read RHA #6 this seems odder since he knew there was a problem since he got a text and the first thing he does is get a drink? Bullshit. I also wish his reasoning what a kid needs from Batman was phrased different since it goes back to the tired "Jason is angry and only likes hitting people" clichés. To be fair he wasn't the Robin that picked a fight with hundreds of kids in this issue.

The best part with Jason in it is when he could confronts the man at the bar and I don't me the punch or nonsensical reeling his name. He's actually the only Robin in this that actually defends Batman and it's rather sweet to see him stand up for Bruce. Even if the scene is very formulaic.

Damian was entertaining until he met up with Tim and Jason. He has no reason to treat them like crap even if he doesn't like them. The three of them have worked together a lot and it means nothing to him. I can't say for sure if it's still in character since I haven't caught up to his stories but it pisses me off all the same. A lot of Jason and Tims' speech was nonsensical since their basically laying down clichéd character beats, some that don't actually fit the characters. Even the WTF dead Robin bit seemed to be there just to inform who died.

I wish Travis could have stuck around as that story would have been great to see. It makes sense that this is all centered on Dick I just hope it deals with who the others are. I'd like to see some bonding not more fighting with Dick being the only one to save the day. Which King basically said would happen. We also have signs of who is on what side except for Dick. Really it all depends on how the others write the bulk of this. Duke was excellent in this and was hands down the best written character. An enjoyable read except for most bits with Tim and Jason in them just because of how off it all was. I suppose this issue brings Alfreds' recruit death count at two, at least that we know of.

Did You Notice?: The death of the Waynes imagery invoked by the Robin, the robber and the police officer.

The reaction shots from Gotham reminded me of Millers' work and Batman Cult.

The bird on Council woman Noctuas' plate. Not too subtle but I like it.

Say What?: Someone from Smallville in Gotham? That must be unbearable for him.

"Died nobly. Came back a bit less noble." It's like those awful "funny" intros in BaRE. Yay for saying he died nobly but you lose points for the second half. He might do things (or did if he's going back to no killing) differently but his intentional are noble. The reason he started killing, besides anger at Bruce for not avenging him, was to prevent people like Joker from killing innocents.

If Tim is just calling Jason who texted him?

Bruce said Tim was "the smart one" I call BS. Bruce may have issues with his kids but to say something like that? For the audience it informs us but damn that doesn't fit.

"Easy-to-kill-Robin"? You died too Damian. Like you it took awhile for Jason to die. He should at least respect them for helping him come back to life. Tim does point this out but it feels like a fan responds not the more mature answer I'd expect from Tim.

Tim is the "inbred" Robin? That's reaching Damian.

Questions Raised?: Why won't Jason be the one to suggest calling Dick and Tim be the one that wanted to knock Damian out? Jason only lost his temper with Damian once in anything I read, he doesn't want to hurt him despite what an ass the kid can be. Tim is the one who gets annoyed with Damian. Instead it's switched around for a joke?


  1. I found this issue to be mediocre at best.

    It's biggest faults are the fact that King ignores everything Bermejo has set on the WAR title for no good reason. There's no fallout to the Talon butchering cops on live TV, there's no mention of Alfred's involvement on the movement, there's no follow up at the Talons wanting to recruit the WAR kids. Duke's voice is also off, being really cocky when he's more subsided on WAR andeven reasonable on Batman.

    In a way it feels like King is introducing the WAR for the first time.

    Another huge problem is that it doesn't give the reader an actual reason to root for the WAR kids. They've only shown either being arrogant and irresponsible or downright dangerous to themselves and everyone's else. Also, instead of setting a belivable conflict between the movement and the law, he chooses to turn the cops into literal strawman (and cartoonly evil) by having them being manipulated by the court. Hell, he ven implies the whole thing started not because the kids are way over their head but because the court manipulated things from the shadows.

    The Robins characterizations are also pretty poor. Jason and Tim have become mere cheerleaders despite having shown againd and again on their own titles that they aren't fine with people picking up the vigilante lifestyle on a whim. (Tim founded the TT to protect meta kids while Jason found baffling Barbara's choice of becoming Batgirl and briefly pondered how would be his life away of vigilantism). However, the most damming part of it is the fact that they literally need Dick to tell them what to do.

    Damian is also turned into a strawman with many of his arguments being literal rehash of the critcisms made at the WAR concept since its beginning while also being incredibly more rash and rude than it should be according to the developments happening on his own book.

    As it has become usual with King, the whole thing is just a fluff piece to remind everyone how great Dick Grayson is and probably, manipulating things to bury the Nightwing identity for good (or in the short term at least) That is another thing it doesn't makes sense, the court never gave a lot of thought to Dick, it was Cobbs' obsession, so whay now they're suddenly so invested on Dick? and what is more, why all the theathrics if Dick already spends much of his time on Gotham anyways?

  2. I mainly enjoyed the atmosphere that was created but having the Robins--the actual ones--written so poorly did lower my opinion. A bulk of it read better on the first read through although the boys bad parts stuck out the most both times.

    I forgot about Duke being cocky since I just got one issue of WAR. I didn't know that and you're right this does make them look horrible. It drives me crazy when no one bothers to research or flat out ignores other books especially in events. I took for granted the ones that actually flowed well.

    It really does, which makes it confusing because WAR doesn't look good except for the information Duke had and trying to get Travis to come clean.

    I was wondering if King gave up on being subtle with the police. This made Gordon look like the only good one except possibly the cop who was shot. It's very frustrating that Jason and Tim are often reduced to paper thin characterzations that are pretty much used as wallpaper for these stories.

    Yep, I didn't want to say it until I read through Grayson but it's true. No one but Dick can apparently handle Damian. Jason and Tim won't try. Damians' instantly reduced to an ass despite working with them in the past. I'll let Damian slide a little on not knowing what to do but fact neither Jason or Tim know what to do without Dick? BS.

    Like you said Tim has looked out for meta kids, Jason is currently trying to redeem someone everyone else marked as damaged goods. Why does Tim need to understand them if he's been following them?

    I thought they gave up on Dick because Bruce adopted him. Maybe they think it will be easier now that he's legally dead? ...Except everyone now knows what he looks like and who he was. I like Dick Grayson but I don't want to praise him at the expense of the others. Hell Jason's actually the Robin that's been fleshed out the least because everyone ignores his character development and does retcons. We don't need more crap portrayals.