Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists: Rick Mays (p), Aaron Sowd (i)
As Robin battles a trio of thieves who have made off with a bunch of high tech weaponry, we see while Tim is able to take them all down, one of the original group does manage to slip away. As Tim uses his detective skills to discover where this thief might've gone to ground we see another person has also expressed an interest in this thief, as a truly evil hired thug has paid the man a visit. We then see Robin arrives just in time to fall victim to a sneak attack.
Fables is one of my favorite titles so the news that Bill Willingham was set to be this book's new writer was welcome news. Now that the first issue of his run has arrived I have to say I was a bit surprised by how close Bill Willingham has stuck to the formula that had been set in place on this title, as if not for his name in the credit box I probably wouldn't have taken notice of the change of writers. Well that's not exactly true as Jon Lewis was a bit more inclined to focus on the character moments, and he took his time building his story, while right from the word go this issue places the reader in the middle of the action. Still, this does feel like familiar ground as once again Tim is placed into a new school which seems to be the instant cue to readers that we're moving in a new direction. In any event the issue does move along at a nice brisk pace, and while Bill Willingham keeps the narrative device of having Tim deliver a running commentary during the issue, his version of the character does convey a more down-to-earth quality. I also like the simple fact that Tim seems to be enjoying himself during the opening action sequence, which is a nice change from the more serious-minded approach that Jon Lweis adopted. As for the villain this issue introduces, at the moment he comes across as a fairly run-of-the-mill thug, though the scene with the iron did manage to nicely sell the idea that this character was a thoroughly evil bastard.
As for the art, Rick Mays has a style that is extremely well suited to this book's youthful lead as Tim looks like a person with some growing to do. Unfortunately so do the adult characters in this issue as Batman looks like he's barely old enough to drive let alone be hardened crime-fighter with years of experience. Still, the art is quite good when it's delivering the action, as Robin looks to bounce across the page, and his various attacks not only look quite painful, but they also look quite fast thanks to some clever visual tricks. On the other side of the coin though the art isn't all that good when it comes to the darker aspects of the plot, as the villain is visually unimpressive, and even the scene where he's on the verge of torturing one of his captives, the art doesn't seem to be up to the task of delivering a dangerous edge for this character. On the other hand the cover image to this issue does a fantastic job of selling the danger Robin encounters inside the issue.
Bill Willingham starts off with a fairly conventional story as Robin runs up against a pretty evil villain who looks like he'll give Tim a rough go of it. In fact while I'm sure the next issue isn't going to open with Tim doing a Snow White impression by getting his head blown apart, this issue does end with a fairly intense cliffhanger. Plus, by having the villain get the drop on Robin, Bill Willingham does cast some doubt on Tim's ability to deal with this villain. As for the material leading up to this encounter in the final pages, the issue is a fairly fast paced affair, as the issue opens with a fairly exciting battle between Tim and a trio of thugs, before giving us a quick look in on Tim's new supporting players. The scene where Tim interacts with Batman is also nicely done as far too often this relationship is played too confrontational, so it's nice to see Bill Willingham is willing to present these two as being fairly comfortable dealing with each other. The villain of the issue is also given a pretty creepy little sequence where he advances on a captive with a red hot iron.
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