Review: ROBIN & BATMAN #3
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Letters: Steve Wands
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Robin & Batman #3: To reconcile his trauma and move toward an optimistic future, Dick Grayson must first confront his tragic past. Unfortunately, that step includes a confrontation with an enraged Killer Croc, who is out for Grayson’s blood! This action-packed issue concludes the epic tale of a young man learning to live and love in a nightmarish world.
Robin & Batman #3 concludes Jeff Lemire’s story of Dick Grayson’s early days as Batman’s partner. The last issue ended with a rather heated exchange between Bruce and Alfred. And that tension is still apparent in this issue. Bruce and Alfred butt heads over whether Dick should attend school or work on the Killer Croc investigation. However, this time Bruce backs down.
Batman is knocked out by Croc when the villain attacks Dick’s school, looking for Robin. Croc seems to have a jealous obsession with Dick. Instead of killing Batman immediately, he takes him captive, stating, “So, what are you, then? The adoptive father? Ain’t that just so sweet…No the kid can see two daddies smushed to bits…And you–I’m gonna take you apart too, kid. But first I’m gonna make you watch him go. Just like you watched them”.
Dick decides that it’s up to him to save Bruce, even though Alfred implores him to seek the help of Commissioner Gordon or the Justice League. Dick tells Alfred, “He works alone. So can I”. But Alfred replies, “Don’t you see? He doesn’t work alone. That’s why he found you”. This touches on a recurring theme in the Batman mythos: Batman’s trouble accepting help from others. And Lemire’s story shows us how emulating Bruce led Dick to face the same struggle.
Dick is able to overcome Croc on his own and proves himself as a capable partner to Bruce. And we see Dick in a happier place as the story ends. He makes friends at school and he meets up with the other Teen Titans. And his narration tells us that Alfred’s words have sunk in, and he has worked his way past his hesitancy to rely on others. As he narrates, “Now I know I don’t have to be alone. And I don’t have to be the dark. I can be the light. I can be Robin”.
Dusting Nguyen’s gorgeous art perfectly complements Lemire’s story. He has a talent for capturing the youth and vibrancy of children that makes him the perfect artist to depict the early days of DC’s first kid sidekick. And he has done some great work with the costume designs. While I still prefer the classic Robin suit, the one he wears here is still quite good. And he has perfectly captured the early Teen Titans.
This series begs for a sequel story focusing on Dick’s early days with the Teen Titans. Unfortunately, Jeff Lemire has taken an exclusive contract with Image Comics which precludes him from writing any such story for the foreseeable future. However, that doesn’t mean that Dusting Nguyen couldn’t be paired with another talented writer for such a series. Make it happen, DC!
Robin & Batman #3 is a fine wrap-up to this excellent series. Lemire’s writing never disappoints, and it’s a shame that he won’t be writing more for DC once his Swamp Thing: Green Hell series concludes. What’s undeniable is that he’s going out on a high note.