We are Robin #5 review

We Are Robin 5

This is easily the best issue of We are Robin to date.  While not heavy on action, the issue boasts a substantial amount of introspection and plenty of motivational disclosure on our group of “would be heroes”.  We also get our first real look at the Robins’ nemesis, along with an appearance of the Nest, who continues to encourage the Robins in their crusade.

This story finally delivers that healthy dose of character disclosure I have been begging for since the beginning.  Last issue inserted profiles at the back of the book, and while I was happy to see some insight into who these people were, it felt too disconnected from the story.  It was more like a necessary information dump than a progressive story telling element.  Here, information is parceled out, and since it is done within the context of the story, it feels much more fluid and natural.

WAR5.9Everyone’s facial reaction in this shot is priceless.

Not only does learning more about our heroes give us much needed empathy for them, it also provides additional avenues for drama among the cast.  Previously, they were a team of strangers whose only struggle was overcoming the opposition.  Now the team is also forced to contend with each other.  This provides an additional dynamic to the book that I think is far more interesting than if it had been nothing more than just a group of kids trying to be superheroes.  The gates have now been opened to allow for folks from different walks of life to critique each other’s shortcomings.  I truly hope that this examination continues as the story unfolds.  Seeing the characters overcoming personal biases and working together would be an inspiring message to see this book deliver.

WAR5.8I liked the subtle reminder that Riko is very book smart.  This is a quote from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

In previous reviews, I spoke quite strongly against the fact that we were left in the dark about who everyone was.  While I still think it would have helped the book garner more of an audience in the beginning, I see now that this was a conscious omission.  It wasn’t that we, as the reader, had simply not yet been introduced to the characters, but that they themselves had no knowledge of each other.  Coming to this realization makes me wonder how differently I would react to the opening chapters if I reread them now.  I’m certain I would have held them to a much less grueling standard if I knew the choice to leave them as blank slates had been intentional and not a mistake or unfortunate oversight.  Although, if this was the intended perception we were supposed to be conforming to, I think more effort should have been put forth to place us in than frame of mind instead of waiting till now to make this clear.

 

WAR5.3Children of the Night?  What is he, Dracula’s cousin?

While this issue gives us our first real look at the Robins’ nemesis, I get this strange feeling that he is a last minute rewrite from what had originally been intended.  I admit that the villain was mostly a mystery to us up till now, but the elements that were hinted at didn’t seem to be leading us in this direction.  It seems like he changed his M.O. and mission goals in the blink of an eye for no real reason.  Albeit, trying to justify the choices of a madman is a futile enterprise, but something still seems off to me about the villain’s character evolution.

WAR5.2Hey Jay, I see a typo!

Alfred finally gives some kind of acceptable answers as to why he is doing this.  Initially, we were meant to believe that the kids would do this with or without his help, so it’s better to help them and keep them alive than let them go it alone and watch them all die.  It seems clear that without Alfred’s encouragement, the movement would have disbanded after Troy’s death.  This leaves the original theory null.  The kids had essentially quit, they didn’t need protecting anymore.  Alfred actively brings them back into the fray.  It seems like the real motivation is so that Bruce’s efforts were not in vain.  To be honest, Bruce never thought he could end all crime.  That was never his goal as it was unrealistic.  His goal was to save people from experiencing what he was forced to endure.  When you look at all the lives that Bruce saved over the years, I don’t think he would refer to any of that as fruitless.  Having said that, I’m still not buying into Alfred spearheading this movement.  His motivations seem shaky at best, and I hope to see them fleshed out a bit more as the story continues.

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After a single issue break, Jorge Corona is back to handling art duties.  Seeing as how much of this issue was about listening and thinking, I believe it allowed Corona a real opportunity to present the depths to which his art is capable of going.  Not only did he have to subtly convey the emotions of the characters but simultaneously engage us even though nothing was happening.  On both fronts, I believe he succeeded.  I think the image above is the best example of this.  We are just looking at someone’s face, but without any prompting, we can see that she is full of sadness and contemplation.  It’s the kind of image that instills a feeling of realism and empathy.  An expression so convincing that we wonder what she is thinking, when really, we know she is just an illustration.

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Interesting Facts:

WAR5.4Nice Dark Knight Returns homage.

  • The villain for this issue reminded me of The Reaper.

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  • The Reaper was a vigilante who operated in Gotham City before Batman.  Unlike Batman, Reaper had no qualms about killing.  As I recall, he only appeared in 5 books.  Batman Year Two, which took place in Detective Comics #575-578 (1987) and the prestige format book Batman Full Circle (1991).

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  • Greg Capullo even gave a nod to the character in the pages of Batman.

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  • The Phantasm from Mask of the Phantasm is also based on this character.  Several of the story elements from this movie are inspired by plot points from Batman Year Two.

Recommended if…

  • You’ve been waiting patiently to get backgrounds on some of these characters.
  • You want to get a look at the main villain.

Overall:

If you are looking for gratuitous action, this won’t be the issue for you.  What it does have is the most moving and empathetic dialogue this series has yet to muster.  The accompanying artwork also greatly assists in translating the emotional weight of the subject matter.  If that isn’t enough for you, be prepared to delight in an abundance of character details that are finally revealed.  All in all, this was the best issue of We are Robin to date.

SCORE: 8.5 / 10 

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