Review: DC Dollar Comics “Robin #1”
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Tom Lyle
Inker: Bob Smith
Letterer: Tim Harkins
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Reviewed by: Peter Gaudioso
DCDCR#1 is a1 reissue flashback to the very first time Tim Drake accepts the mantle of Robin. Unsure of himself, we follow an emotional Drake as he stumbles across the globe wrought with indecision.
The journey begins with a heartwarming sendoff involving advice offered from Alfred Pennyworth. Drake, deeply concerned that he will disappoint Bruce, is not sure he is up to the task of becoming Batman’s wingman.
Tim takes the initiative and decides to travel to Paris, where he has arranged to study under a martial arts master: The Rahul Lama. But upon arrival, Drake’s expectations of this apprenticeship are soured. On top of this, the momentum continues as trouble brews with a local Paris street gang. Drake adapts to the culture shock, handles the hostility, and rises to the occasion by donning the Robin costume. (Which Alfred nudged him into packing for the trip.)
Chuck Dixon excels at showing Tim Drake wrestle with self doubt. When Tim speaks, his words carry a staggered reluctance. Add to this, Tom Lyle’s keen knack for capturing realistic body language, and the self-tortured theme continues strong. If mourning and wallowing in torment are prerequisites to being a part of that Bat-Family then Drake is ahead of the game.
En route to the airport Drake visits his mothers gravesite, hoping to leave behind some emotional baggage. Lyle communicates this heavy burden by giving our wounded hero constant slouches and frequent far-off gazes.
DCDCR#1 succeeds at showing the massive lifestyle plunge from Wayne-Manor-level luxury to trashy, gutter punk living. Inker Bob Smith is pretty heavy handed with his gloopy black shadows, so the mood is dark and almost depressing. This works, especially when Drake discovers that the Rahul Lama’s monastery is located in a filthy Paris ghetto.
In between his lessons with Rahul Lama, Drake has a nasty run in with a “brute squad” of gang members. Despite recieving an impressive beating, the young crime fighter refuses to stay down. As the pages pass, Drake’s training continues and his confidence builds. By the end – and a climactic reveal of a leaping Robin along the Paris rooftops, we are left with an enjoyable and believable coming of age story.
Amidst a pretty densely woven storyline is another secret thread: A mysterious woman named Shiva, who travels the world in search of secret fighting techniques. This ambitious madwoman is intent on learning the perfect killing-move and taking over the criminal underworld. Needless to say, Shiva crosses paths with Tim Drake in Paris. As Robin (now fully committed) dishes out justice to the street gangs, Shiva spies from the rafters. I cannot over stress how curious I am to learn more about this plot point. Is Shiva interested in Drake, or his teacher?
For the most part, DCDCR#1 is a perfect read. Now and again however, the backgound art is over simplified. Especially in Paris, where the complete lack of Parisian flourishes shows a truly missed opportunity. I don’t need to see the Eiffel Tower looming in the background, but throw in some cobblestone paths or French bay windows at least. Additionally, the action in the final pages is postponed with a cliffhanger. More and more, the stories being chosen for reissue in the DC Dollar Comics format are chopped in half. Real bummer.
DC Dollar Comics “Robin #1” is an origin story par excellence. For anyone new to Tim Drake this is a great throwback introduction. Although it isn’t a complete story in itself, you can continue on Robin’s journey in the Robin Vol. 1: Reborn graphic novel. And, as always, these reissues are a must-have for only one dollar.