Robin picks up with the absence of Batman. No Batman means crime runs rampant in Gotham City, which means that Robin has to step up as a hero and defend those around him. But this series has always struggled with matters of maturity and, with a new writer on board, only time will tell when it comes to the overall strength of Robin as a character and Robin as a story.
However! So far so good. While Dixon seemed to struggle with moments of comedy and moments of drama, Nicieza knows exactly when one is more appropriate than the other. If youíre wondering about the depth of the story let me simply tell you to not worry. Okay, here goes, donít worry. The story works off of the idea that Batman is gone, you know who Batman is and you know who Robin is, figuring the rest out shouldnít be an issue.
The trouble for new readers comes with the reappearance of an angry Jason Todd. Heís in the issue and he spends his time here trying to organize the local gangs into one large movement. He plans to take these gangs and use their rage to push Gotham into his control. Itís a concept that isnít too far stretched for a Batman or Robin story. While Drake works towards settling matters with Todd, Batman never turns up. Drake and his girlfriend while he and Steph drift further and further apart. In fact, the final panel will throw Stephís loyalty as a friend into question. This, of course, will probably be wrapped up quickly as that has been the pacing of this book for months.
Freddie E. Williams II is back as the artist for the series and while his sub was great, heís been sorely missed. No longer is Robin Latino, so gone are those odd moments of confusion. The panel layouts are looking great as per usual and the action scenes are on par with Williamsí style. Guy Major uses coloring to paint a dark and looming Gotham City. This mood, in my opinion, is perfect for the absence of Batman. The style projects such a level of impending doom and uncertainty that makes the situation of a missing Batman that much more intense for the lone, crime fighting Robin.
Okay, so maybe Robin isnít entirely alone. As the cover suggests, someone is fighting crime in Gotham as the Red Robin. It isnít Jason Todd. Well then who the heck is it? Donít know yet, and thatís part of the alluring mystery thatís going to draw folks towards Robin. #177 is the perfect outlet for Fabian Nicieza to display his talent with Robin when he isnít concerned with a tie-in. After the exit of Chuck Dixon, the title was thrown into a realm of question. Will it be good? Yes. Fabian Nicieza is one of the best things that has happened to Robin in some time, and I hope heíll be here casting a mature light on Tim Drake for a good while to come.
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