Monday, January 20, 2014

Tales from the 50 Cent Bin! - Robin #1-#5

Hey, all. Originally, this was going to be a quick look at Justice League of America #8 since Batman gets into a fight with the Karate Kid (guess which one). Since it was part of a major storyline, I decided to save that for later. I then found its replacement this weekend in one of my boxes. For today’s post, I’m going to quickly browse over a five-issue mini-series that involves the third Robin: Tim Drake. While I like Dick Grayson better as a character, I think Tim may be my favorite Robin. I liked how they tried to make him different from Dick and Jason. For example, he still had his parents… until DC decided that killing one’s relatives was the way to go in the 2000’s. Yes, that’s a jab.

Tim could also be known as the first fanboy. In his first story, he was able to figure out that Batman was Bruce Wayne. Eventually, Batman ended up taking Tim on as a sidekick. This mini-series came out around 1991, a couple of years before his ongoing series began. I found the issues in the 50 cent bin a while back, so I decided to give it a read. The writer is Chuck Dixon, the penciller is Tom Lyle, and the inker is Bob Smith.

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Tom Lyle
Inker: Bob Smith
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterist: Tim Harkins
Editors: Denny O’Neil and Dan Raspler

The story is all about how Tim gets the confidence in order to patrol Gotham City with Batman. At the beginning, Tim (in his new, awesome suit) is still having doubts on wanting to be Robin. He asks Bruce if he could get more training. Bruce tells Tim about a sensei in Paris, so Tim says goodbye to his loved ones and heads to France. He gets some training but he is then literally pulled into a situation when he helps out a man by the name of Clyde Rawlins. Rawlins is a renegade CIA agent on the hunt for an evil businessman/blind martial artist by the name of Edmund Dorrance, aka King Snake… insert Metal Gear Solid joke here.
Man, Robin's even getting his butt handed to him by the injured black dude!

Robin and Clyde go on the run from Dorrance’s gang. During this time, Clyde trains Tim a little bit. The two end up running into an acquaintance of Batman’s: Lady Shiva. As a well- trained martial artist, Shiva wants to beat Dorrance since he’s apparently a BMS at martial arts. The three team up and try to figure out what Dorrance is planning to do. They find out that he has found one of Adolf Hitler’s old pet projects: a plan to release the black plague. They try to stop his gang from taking the containers that contain the plague, but they fail at that. The three find out that Dorrance is heading to Hong Kong, so, three leave Europe and head to China.
Well, I can hear that Hans Zimmer music playing now.

In Hong Kong, the three realize that Dorrance is going to release the plague into Hong Kong’s water supply. Shiva trains Tim a little bit. She also lets him take a weapon from her (or the guy’s who apartment they’re in) arsenal. Tim decides to pick a simple staff and modifies it to suit his needs. The team of three then head to Dorrance hideout which is a tall high-rise building. Robin tries to stick to their plan, but Clyde decides to go all “Death Wish” on everyone and runs on in. Tim is able to disable the building’s security before Clyde sets it off.
Someone get an ad... Oh, she going to train him in martial arts? Well, get an adult anyway! Child Endangerment! Child Endangerment.!

Fights ensue as Robin takes on the guards and Clyde faces Dorrance. Since Snake is a skilled martial artist, Clyde gets killed. Robin makes it to Dorrance’s room and goes up against the Daredevil wanna-be. It takes a while, but Robin beats the blond villain and leaves him hanging off the roof. Shiva wants Robin to kill Dorrance, but he refuses, so Shiva just shoves the evil man off the building… Ouch. Outside, Robin runs into Henri Ducard, a French detective and another acquaintance of Batman’s. Ducard tells Robin that Dorrance had a shipment heading towards Gotham City, so Robin heads home. After he busts the shipment, Batman shows up and Tim decides that he is  finally ready to hang with the Bat.


This was a pretty nice read. It wasn’t awesome but it wasn’t a waste of time either. The overall story is well done. I think this is Chuck Dixon’s first take with Robin, I’m not sure. I do know that Dixon sticks with the Batman books for a pretty long time after this. We essentially see Tim face his final tests. Bruce believes he’s ready, but Tim still had doubts. We see Tim use his mind as well as his money (his family’s rich) in order to fight evil. To me, he’s even more like Bruce than Jason and even Dick ever were. At the end, Tim still doesn’t know everything, but he knows that he will learn as time goes by.

I also liked the supporting characters. Clyde added little, but it was nice for the sidekick to have a sidekick. Lady Shiva was a bit more interesting. She was basically a dark, female version of Batman. I liked Tim’s banters with the two characters. Dorrance is threatening, but he seems like a forgettable villain. I actually forgot his name when I wrote this out. He’s like a mix between Daredevil and a random, evil businessman from the 80’s. It was cool to see Ducard, but he really didn’t add much to the story. He’s just there.

The dialogue was pretty decent, but there were times where Robin sounded more like Batman than a 14 year-old kid. The artwork was good overall. Everything looked like the way it should look. I like the new costume for Robin though I believe it debuted before this issue. It’s my favorite Robin costume of all time. The action in the issues was pretty sweet and flowed well. The quality may dip here and there, but that’s a minor nitpick. Lastly, the covers were pretty epic themselves. They (except for the first issue) all captured moments from each issue.

If you can find the mini-series, give it a try. If you’re a fan of Tim Drake, then definitely give it a read. Well, I have one more comic to look at for the month and it may be the weirdest one in my collection. It’s a Bruce Lee comic book from the 90’s. I am so going to enjoy this!


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