We are Robin #4 review

We Are Robin 4

We are only 4 issues into We are Robin, and the team is already “taking a break” from the main story.  Add some seriously questionable artwork and a guest appearance to drive waning interest in the title, and I’m really starting to worry about the future of this book.

One of the things that this book does do right, is finally introducing us to the “Robins”.  This particular story focuses on Riko Sheridan (she’s the one that looks most like a Robin out of the gang).  We get a peak into her home life, her head, and her obsession with Batgirl.  Regardless of whether or not the use of Batgirl was an executive’s marketing decision,  it comes off feeling so organic that I can’t really complain about it all that much.  Plus, it leads to a rooftop pep talk, and no Batman fan can pass up a philosophical rooftop chat… it’s practically mandatory in a Batman story!  Aside from learning about Riko through the story, the last 2 pages of the book include character bios of the 6 main characters.  It’s really nice to finally get a handle on who these kids are.

While I did enjoy the fact that this issue took the time to introduce us to people, I was a bit disappointed that it came at this juncture.  After last issue, all I wanted to do was proceed forward, and this felt like a pause.  For me, it just killed the momentum that had been building.  At the same time, it felt appropriate that the death of a teammate would give everyone a moment of pause.  So once again, an unwanted element has a silver-lining to it.

My favorite thing about the book was that we got a real chance to see the mindset of Gothamites in regards to this new youth movement.  The news, police, parents, and initiates of the movement all have a voice in this book.  It might also behoove you to have read Lord of the Flies, as a parallel between events of the book and our main character journey are drawn.  It’s not essential to understanding and enjoying the plot, but you may garner some deeper meaning if you have read it.

Now, onto my least favorite thing…

war1.1It’s hard for me to even look at this….and I’m not just speaking in a figurative/aesthetic sense, but that it literally hurts my eyes to look at this.  It seems like it might be a possible 3-D image, but I have no glasses with which to test it out.

This chapter of We are Robin features guest artist James Harvey, and I have to say, I am in no way a fan of his style.  Having said that, I still recognize the amount of effort that went into producing these pages.  They aren’t blank backgrounds like some artist crank out, but filled to the brim with Easter Eggs (see Interesting Facts).  While I don’t necessarily think that comics is the appropriate location for his work, I can see where it would work well within a museum of modern art (think Andy Warhol).  While I have a grudging respect for his abilities as an artist, it doesn’t mean that I am willing to overlook obvious faults: i.e., his face-work.

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While expressive, the faces lack a general sense of consistency.  From panel to panel, the characters seldom look anything like themselves.  Without the assistance of their clothing and hair to help keep things straight, you’d be forgiven for thinking a new character just strolled into the scene.  On top of that, they just look inhuman and unnatural.

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The book also relies heavily on prints.  This is when you take a recycling image and laying it within the boarder of an object to create texture and color.  It adds a real pixelated quality to the book that I found utterly distracting.  Kind of like when you put your face right up to the TV screen and can’t make out anything but colored dots.

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I especially dislike when prints are applied to clothing.  Take this image for instance.  The face of Batman on her thighs should be upside down to us, they shouldn’t match up perfectly from her thigh to her calf, and they shouldn’t be in a perfect horizontal line.  They should follow the line of the leg.   The art team is also hell bent on overusing primary colors to the extent that pages glare at you.  Throw all this together, and you have a completely aggressive visual experience.  Maybe if a panel of this were hanging in a museum of modern art I would be more accepting of it, but this is a comic book.  I am trying to read a story here, not develop eye strain!

This book retails at $3.99, and while it has the mandatory 22 pages for a $3.99 book, I just don’t feel like there is anything here that warrants such a price tag.  I know I have brought this up before, but I really think it bares repeating.  The book has no instantaneously recognizable characters and no real star power behind it.  Sure, Lee Bermejo is an all-star when it comes to art, but all he is providing is cover work.  As it stands, I would be willing to pay 2.99 for this book, but not 3.99.  If I weren’t reviewing this book, this would be where I bowed out.

Interesting Facts:

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  • The poster that Riko has hanging on the back of her bedroom door is the cover of Batgirl Adventures #1 (1998).

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  • I’m not sure what the significance is, but she also has a poster of the cover of Black Lightning #9 (1978) on her wall.  You can only make out the top and bottom because it is hidden under other posters.
  • You can also see a poster on her wall featuring the cover art of several of the singles Prince released from the soundtrack to the 1989 Batman movie.
  • There are several images copied and pasted from the ongoing Batgirl title that also decorate her room.
  • You can see the Blaze comic logo in Riko’s room.  Blaze is a comic publisher in the DC Universe.
  • Lord of the Flies is about a bunch of kids who crash land on a deserted island and form a society governed by their own ideals.

war4.7Bill Finger!

Recommended if…

  • You’re excited to finally start getting to know who these kids are.
  • You like New Age Retrospective Contemporary Independent Comic Book Artwork.  (wow, that was a mouthful)
  • You’re a fan of Lord of the Flies.
  • You love playing find all the Easter Eggs.

Overall:

While this story had enjoyable elements, there was just as much about it that I didn’t like.  And even a few of the positives had drawbacks to them.  In general, the book left me with a very neutral feeling.  However, the one thing that I can say for certain is that I had absolutely no love for the artwork.  Respect, but no love.  Fortunately, next issue brings back regular artist Jorge Corona, along with a return to the main plot….now go read Grayson #12!

SCORE: 5 / 10

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