Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Robin: Year One Review (Chuck Dixon, Javier Pulido)


This is the very boring story of Dick Grayson’s first year as Robin. He meets/fights Jervis Tetch the Mad Hatter, Two-Face and Mr Freeze. He also briefly becomes the student of the ninja Fagin, Shrike, and his band of teen ninjas. Then the book ends. 

I know Batman: Year One is a major seller for DC, and rightly so, it’s one of the best Batman books ever written. But a big component of its success is that it really does show us Bruce Wayne learning to be Batman. That’s the point of Year One stories – the character is roughly defined, they’re not nearly as polished as they become, they make mistakes, they struggle and so on. It gives us a different perspective on the character and that’s good. 

Robin: Year One shows Robin fully formed. His parents have died in Haly’s Circus, Bruce has adopted him, he’s learned how to fight, become Robin, has his costume (it’s the classic green scaly underpants and pixie boots); so… it’s not really a Year One book, it’s just a collection of unimpressive, straightforward classic Batman & Robin stories with a heavier focus on Robin. 

And how unimpressive are these stories! Mad Hatter’s, yup, once more trying to brainwash little girls to be his Alices, Two-Face is trying to kill the judge who presided over the case when Maroni threw acid on his face and turned him into a supervillain, and Mr Freeze robs the blood bank for money. If you’ve read plenty of Batman comics, you’ll find this dreary, predictable, and simplistic stuff that’s been done a thousand times before. 

There’s a notable scene where Two-Face nearly beats Robin to death with a baseball bat that I think is supposed to echo Joker’s attack on Jason Todd in Death in the Family. Such is the miserable fate of each Batman sidekick, apparently! Batman realises it’s probably not a good idea to have a kid sidekick but then just as abruptly decides that it is. Eh. Javier Pulido and Marcos Martin’s artwork is great, I love these artists’ work. But that’s about all that stood out to me in this one. 

Robin: Year One is a collection of unremarkable Robin-centric stories. Maybe they’re unchallenging because DC were aiming for a younger audience with this book, I don’t know. Perhaps younger readers will like this more than a grown-up reader like me? Anyways, I found this one not especially well-written, interesting or insightful into how Dick Grayson came to be Robin. Unlike Batman: Year One, this book is definitely worth skipping.

Robin: Year One

2 comments:

  1. Chuck Dixon has been around since the mid 80s, initially as a writer for various Eclipse Comics titles. In fact, he was the writer that was put on Airboy when Eclipse had acquired the golden age property and tried to reboot it. It was boring. Chuck then disappeared from comics for ages, then suddenly showed up again maybe ten years ago or so. I was kind of hoping that perhaps his writing had improved since that time, but apparently not.

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  2. Dixon's Nightwing: Year One might be more your thing. It's a fun story that actually has a rhyme and reason.

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