Current Reviews


Robin #115

Posted: Monday, June 30, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Jon Lewis
Artists: Pete Woods (p), Andrew Pepoy (i)

Publisher: DC

The book opens with Robin rushing in to face that giant rampaging creature that suddenly appeared in the middle of the small community of Wrestling, and while his various gadgets seem to have little, to no effect on the creature, we see Robin is able to piece together that this creature is the sister of the young boy whose life he failed to save in the previous issue. The situation then becomes even stranger when Kenny, the trucker/gun-runner that Tim had been looking to bring down appears to recognize something within the creature, and the creature literally explodes. In the aftermath we see Kenny's late wife has suddenly appeared on the scene. As Kenny runs off with his new resurrected wife, we see that Robin starts to put the pieces together regarding this creature, as he comes to believe it is an inhuman life form forms a symbiotic bond with a person, and assumes the shape of whomever this person most desires. In exchange for this mortal body the creature grants it's host seeming immortality. We then learn that this creature was also involved in the horrific situation where a group of right-wing gun nuts were rumored to have engaged in cannibalism. As Robin wraps up the illegal gun shipment case, by locating the source of the weapons, we see he heads home glad to be away from this decidedly mixed up situation.

When one takes a step back and looks at the whole arc, I have to say that I'm quite impressed by how well it all tied together in this final issue, as the mystery of the sister & her indestructible brother is explained, and the gun running plot that pulled Robin into this rather surreal adventure is also wrapped up in a nice tidy manner. However, this has to be one of the densest plots I've seen this side of a comic not written by Christopher Priest, and I feel sorry for any reader who entered this issue cold, as so much of it is dependent upon one having read the earlier issues. Now I will give Jon Lewis credit for attempting to make the story accessible, as the book does open with Robin summarizing the basic elements of the mystery he's trying to piece together, and what's more he does it in such a manner that I wasn't put off by the fact that we were essentially going over ground that had already been covered. However, I can easily see how a new reader might be put off by this issue, as it's dumps a great deal of answers on the reader, while breezing through most of the questions that the earlier issues had raised. My best advice to reader who were confused by this issue is to track done the previous chapters, as when put together, the story is a very rewarding reading experience. It's certainly a stronger conclusion than I had gone in expecting to find.

The book has some seriously twisted ideas at play in this issue, as the explanation for the little girl and the young boy who couldn't be harmed has itself a wonderfully creepy back story that I couldn't help but find utterly fascinating. I mean I have to admit I've always held a somewhat morbid function with the various stories that have dealt with the idea of cannibalism, as the Donner Party is a truly creepy bit of history, and the film "Ravenous" stands up as one of the best darkly comedic horror movies this side of "Evil Dead II". Now I found the film "Alive" to be a bit ponderous after it got off to a truly explosive start, but I still found the basic premise intriguing, and now that I've creeped out most of the reading audience with my interest in a subject that I should find repellent, I have to say that I found this issue's little cannibalism plot twist to be a truly inspired bit of writing. I mean it actually got me thinking that is Wolverine ever got himself trapped in a cave, he wouldn't have to worry about starving to death. As for the rest of the book, the mysterious hermit is an interesting character, and the solution to the gun supply that was being shipped into Gotham City gets itself a clever resolution. My only quibble with the ending is that the final confrontation that Robin has with the gun supplier does feel a bit rushed.

Pete Woods is an unappreciated artist as I never see his name on any best artist lists, nor any of the ones written up naming artists deserving of more attention, and in my mind he deserves a high ranking on both these lists. His art reminds me of Alan Davis, in the smooth, flowing quality of its figure work, and the way they move across the page. He also exceptionally strong when it comes to his action sequences, as the impact shots look downright painful, and there's never any confusion about what we've just been shown. Now this last one is quite important, as Jon Lewis hasn't exactly offered up a story that is easy for an artist to detail, as the focus shifts around from one idea to the next, as does the timeline of various events. However, the art tells the story in a clear, visually exciting manner, and the big action scene in this issue is top notch material. I mean one has to love the sense of overwhelming danger that is conveyed during Robin's battle with the giant creature, and his plunge through the blast of fire from the flame-thrower is a very impressive sequence. The art also does a wonderful job of capturing the issue's "shocking" moment, as the scene where we discover where the meat came from is like a scene from a horribly twisted episode of the Twilight Zone, and the Norman Rockwell style setting only made the scene even more disturbing.

Final Word:
A very dense, and somewhat overly complex resolution to what has been one of the strangest adventures that Robin has ever become involved in. However, I also have to say that when one takes in the whole arc, this issue does act as a pretty solid display of Jon Lewis' ability to craft a story in which every plot element is able to be pulled in to create a fairly neat & tidy ending, as going into this issue, I was of the mind that the story had brought too many weird ideas to the table, that it would be next to impossible to tie them all together. In any event, in addition to a pretty deft example of his skills as a writer, this issue also offers up a delightfully odd bit of back story involving cannibalism, and the explanation to the little girl & her brother is also a pretty interesting little side-plot that I wouldn't mind seeing explored in a future story. My only real problems with this story are the gun running plot that started off this story is given a rather abrupt resolution, and the mystery of the hermit is left up in the air.

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