Having completed my “Faces of Evil” collection–DC’s January-released, 23-title pack of villain-showcased books–I decided to start the process of reading them with Robin #182 (March 2009), written by Fabian Nicieza and illustrated by Freddie E. Williams II. I figured since I hadn’t read a current issue of Robin in almost a year, the plot developments may be fresh and intriguing. On the other hand, since comics storytelling is a dragged-out endurance test at times, Two-Face could’ve flipped his marred coin a year ago and it would have finally come up on the disfigured side by last month’s release.
In thirty-five years of funny book reading, I’ve read thousands and thousands of stories–so there isn’t a lot in the way of original plotting that’s going to golly-gee-whiz me, so I have to simply rely on the way the story is told to really hook my interest–not to mention using my own clever, optimistic strategies that give the comic a fair shake at winning me over based on my own personal satisfaction standards. And, honestly, the strategy paid off this time, because I really, really enjoyed reading Robin #182.
The story opens with a one-page flashback of one of Tim Drake’s first nights out on the town as Robin. It then cuts to the present where a frenzied battle between Robin and Anarky, high above a ravaged Gotham City block, is in full kick and swing.
Robin is wearing a hood over his head. Why, and for how long?
Anarky has returned, but I’m not familiar with the new person in the familiar character costume. Who is this guy? How long has he been around?
There’s also a new Spoiler in town. Who is it?
Actually, it’s Stephanie Brown, the original Spoiler. But isn’t she dead? How did she come back, and when?
All this intrigue is spinning in my head as the battle wears on.
Meanwhile, rival gangs are battling on the street–the prominent urban tribe being the Golden Dragons, led by Lynx. Isn’t she dead?
Commissioner Gordon arrives on the scene to bring order to the chaos. Good. I know he can do it. However, bombs planted by Anarky are going off, lives are in jeopardy, and Robin is forced to make hard choices. Wow, I’m thinking to myself, I’m at the tail end of a six-part epic (“Search For a Hero”), all hell has broken loose, and this is really exciting!
The chaos is eventually abated, of course; the villain subdued and arrested, smoldering with hatred. Tragedy is dealt with, and Robin and the city begin to heal. Loose ends involving an imprisoned Jason Todd (another bit of intrigue) and private investigator Jason Bard become even looser. Oh, yeah, did I mention? Batman is gone!
On the last page, in a dramatic full-page panel, I get to take a long, respectful look at Robin. Tim’s not the same kid who was awarded the Robin role almost twenty years ago. Then he was maybe thirteen or fourteen. I believe he’s around eighteen now, and he appears strong and confident. He looks like he’s ready to become something more than Robin. Maybe Nightwing? Maybe Batman?
I was so impressed I read the book again. I remained so impressed that I found myself looking forward to the next issue. Wait, Robin #183 is the final issue?! Drat!
Oh, well, I’ve dealt with hundreds of final issues over the years. In more ways than one, there’s nothing new under the funny book sun–just how I react and deal with them. At least I have a year’s worth of Robin that I’m suddenly looking forward to catching up on!