Defusing bombs, containing homeless riots, meeting the new Batman, and discovering the true identity of The Nest. This issue has a little bit of something for everyone, but despite so many crisscrossing narratives, it still manages to tell a cohesive story that delivers plenty of drama and tension.
While this issue was solid, it bothers me a little that we are 3 issues in and are still being asked to tag along with a bunch of people whose motivations we have not been properly introduced to. Top that off with the fact that we have not been given a chance to get to know them yet, and I find my empathy for them even less discernible. Despite these moderate annoyances of mine, I feel like I’m starting to get a vague idea of who some of these people are. Brief glimpses of their profiles are starting to be leaked to us as the plot unfolds, enough so that I am no longer looking at them as characters A, B, C, D, and E.
As I stated in a previous review, realism and believe-ability are key for me in accepting a story in which all our characters are untrained nobodies. This chapter definitely succeeds in this arena, offering up a situation in which the kids are way out of their league. I particularly enjoyed the character Izzy and her response to these events: first begging the group to let the cops and bomb squad handle it, then becoming highly emotional to the point of tears, and finally vomiting under the building tension of the situation. This is pretty much what I would expect an untrained child to do if placed in a position like this, and I am happy to see that Bermejo has included this reaction.
Looking at the plethora of obstacles the team has to overcome, it’s a wonder they didn’t all get killed. They have to diffuse a bomb, in the dark, while dodging trains, and simultaneously waiting for the aid of text messages to guide them through the disarmament all while watching precious seconds tick away. It’s no wonder Izzy vomited. Just picture yourself in that situation for real and your pulse will probably start to quicken. And you thought it was nerve racking waiting for your crush to text you back….
There was one character who stood out to me as exceptionally heroic in this issue: Redbird16. He just happens to be on the scene when an army of homeless people start tearing a block of Gotham apart along with any innocent bystanders that stand in their way. He is gravely outnumbered, but still engages the hostiles in order to save people. I feel like his motivations to help and the potential consequences he might have to endure for his actions are all more absolute than the rest of the gang. He isn’t disarming a bomb that may or may not kill someone, he is actually stopping someone from being beaten to death. While failure to disarm the bomb also means death, I’m guessing that being instantaneously blown up is a lot less painful than being beaten to death. Whatever the case may be, I thought this guy was pretty selfless and hope to see him again.
When the gang of Robins comes face to face with “Batman”, they are surprised when he treats them like common criminals even though they helped quell the riot. I thought this was a very in character thing for Batman to do, whether it be Gordon or Bruce. If we weren’t reading the tales of robobat, I’m sure the scene would have played out similarly. Many times in the comics, Batman has encountered other vigilantes, and in most instances he does not approve of them. Once he gets to know people, he will occasionally sanction their actions, but initially the answer to accepting help is a resounding, “No, go home before you get hurt.”
This issue has Jorge Corona on pencils and Trish Mulvihil on colors. Corona does a great job at upping the tension of the scenes involving the bomb disposal. Characters are drenched in sweat as they uncertainly go about the task at hand. The fear and doubt is palpable on their faces, and goes a long way into helping you feel something for the characters you have yet to identify with. I did have one issue with the art for this particular chapter, and it involves the level of darkness presented in the subway. One of the key elements of the story is that the gang is having difficulty making out the color of the bomb wires in the darkness with nothing but the light of their phones to assist them. Given how relevant this is to the outcome of the story, I was surprised to see that it wasn’t represented by the visuals. Several times, a subway train roars through the area, bathing it in light, but the panels with and without the light of the train really don’t look all that different. In fact, a second bomb is found in an electrical room with noticeably darker panels, but team B doesn’t seem to have the same problem at seeing the wires, while team A in the more brightly lit panels IS having trouble. Kind of peculiar.
- Alfred Pennyworth is The Nest. This makes little to no sense to me from a motivational standpoint. Alfred has always been the voice of reason in the Batman universe. He advised against Master Bruce taking up his crusade. He advised against Batman taking on a partner, especially a young boy who wasn’t experienced enough to know what he was getting himself into. Alfred has always said that nobody deserves to have a life like this thrust upon them. The recent events of Scott Snyder’s Batman story show that, given the opportunity, Alfred will do almost anything to keep people from this kind of life. And yet, here he is, getting all these kids involved in this life. One could argue that they were already doing it without him and he just wanted to minimize casualties by assisting, but I just find it odd that hundreds of Robins could have organized without someone initiating it. I’m curious what you guys think of this. Is this completely out of character for Alfred, or am I missing some key element? Let me know in the comments please.
- The only time I can recall Alfred giving his approval of appointing a boy as Robin was when Tim Drake came along. But that was more about protecting Bruce from himself than actually encouraging a minor to engage in this lifestyle. I’m referring to pre 2011 here, in the new continuity Tim was denied by Batman just like everyone else. Actually, Bruce denied him in the old continuity too, but rethought his decision upon Alfred and Dick’s advise.
- For those of you not aware, many locations in the Batman universe are often named after past writers and artists. This particular example being that of artist Dick Sprang who started his Batman career back in 1943. The OCD in me wishes that they had stated between 18 and 19 since those were the issues Sprang first started working on, but oh well.
- I’ve been noticing a lot of Star Wars references in the pages of my comics lately.
- A character in this story goes by the handle RedBird16. Back in the 90s, when Tim Drake turned 16, Bruce gave him his own “Batmobile”. Tim called it the RedBird.
- I just noticed today that the acronym for We are Robin is WAR.
- You want to read a story with plenty of action, tension, and drama.
- You want to find out who The Nest is. (or just look in the spoilers)
While the book still hasn’t bothered to properly define the cast’s motivations, nor given us time to accordingly develop attachments to them, it is nonetheless an entertaining read. This particular chapter elicited far more credible responses from the children in regards to their daunting predicaments, and I found that especially satisfying. This issue also reveals the alias of The Nest, and while my theories about his identity panned out, it didn’t make it any easier for me to swallow. The story continues to be engaging enough that even if I weren’t reviewing it I’d still be picking it up.
SCORE: 7 / 10