October 28, 2011

Recommended Reading! Robin: Year One

Holy Escrima sticks, Batman! First published as a four part miniseries, Robin: Year One isn't merely another origin story, but an early tale of Dick Grayson's beginnings with the Dark Knight. Batman (and Robin) fans are in for a treat.

In terms of continuity, Robin: Year One takes place after Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's Batman: Dark Victory. Dick Grayson, though still young to the role of Robin, has slowly proven his worth under Batman's tutelage. Robin's youth, optimism, and cheerful presence has also somewhat helped lighten the dark, brooding Batman. Nightwing writer Chuck Dixon knows the character of Dick Grayson well, so he was a perfect choice to pen this tale.

Although the book stars Robin and Batman, Alfred plays an equally important role in the story as narrator, and I loved him in this book. His established role as the "father" figure in the Bat-family is ever present here. He's a bit uncertain of Bruce's decision to allow Dick to put his life in such imminent danger, and fears that like Bruce, Dick's childhood may be another lost to the insatiable search for justice. Robin: Year One has a clear father-son and family theme to it, and proves the significance of Bruce Wayne's two most important allies.

What I liked best about Robin: Year One is that it also reinforces the key difference between Bruce and Dick - unlike Bruce/Batman, Dick/Robin is the same person with or without the mask. However, their differences are what makes their team so effective, and the two are clearly compliments of one another. Also, the book establishes Two-Face as Robin's archenemy. Simply put, the Joker is to Batman as Two-Face is to Robin. Many a times has Two-Face crossed the paths of Robins past and present, and Robin: Year One tells us how his hatred for the Boy Wonder all began. (There's also an Easter egg cameo that features the Joker calling "first dibs", perhaps a nod to the eventual murder of Jason Todd.)

The art of Robin: Year One isn't spectacularly amazing, but still very good nonetheless. Marcos Martin and Javier Pullido have a unique style that is perfect for the book. It definitely has a "throwback" look to it, and it honestly feels as if you're reading a book from the Golden Age of Batman. In addition, the art somewhat mimics Tim Sale's style, and makes this THE book to read after Dark Victory.

THE GOOD: A solid Robin story that will please any Batman or Robin fan, and reinforces everything you already know about the Dynamic Duo. Alfred is awesome in this one! A good story for new readers, but be sure to read Dark Victory FIRST!

THE BAD: Without spoiling any details, towards the end of the book a character named Shrike is introduced. A member of the League of Assassins, Shrike runs a "school" that trains young, capable men into eventual killers. Shrike's appearance in Robin: Year One is purely for continuity reasons, as Shrike reappeared in a story arc of Chuck Dixon's Nightwing, which was simultaneously published with Robin: Year One. His presence isn't necessarily significant but his fate (and events that consequently happen) may confuse newer readers.

THE ART: Not jaw-dropping, but still good. The style is fittingly appropriate for the piece, and definitely gives the book a much needed Golden Age look and feel.


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1 comment:

  1. This is such an awesome comic! I especially adore the relationship between Alfred and Dick, really sweet and grandfatherly. Great review!