If you’re an action junkie, you need to get in here right now! This was definitely one of the most impressive escapes I have seen in some time. Couple that with humor and well thought out fight choreography, and this issue has “win” written all over it. But don’t worry, if you like your stuff a little more cerebral, there is some of that in store for you as well.
We are Robin #7 is part 4 of “Robin War”. If you didn’t catch the first 3 chapters, the spoiler tag contains a synopsis of what you missed.
- Robin War #1: One of the non-primary members of We are Robin gets involved in a Police shooting while trying to stop a criminal from robbing a liquor store. The death of a Police officer motivates the powers that be to enact “The Robin Laws”. Any child seen wearing the colors of a Robin, a mask, or the R symbol, will be brought into custody. Not wanting their movement to be ended, the “Robins” have a mass meeting to see if the “Robin” involved in the shooting will come forward and give himself up to show that they are the good guys. During the meeting, the real Robin (Damian Wayne) shows up and demands that they disperse and give up their foolish crusade since they are pretenders and were not trained by Batman so they can’t be Robins. When they don’t, he proceeds to beat up the entire army of “Robins”. The fisticuffs draw the attention of the GCPD and they call in “Batman” (Jim Gordon). When he arrives on scene, Damian proceeds to defeat and humiliate him as well.
- With “Batman” and the “Robins” put in their places, Red Robin and Red Hood show up to put a stop to Damian’s rampage. They advise him not to fight with other good guys. When Damian won’t listen to them, they inform him that they called Grayson and he is on his way to Gotham to talk some sense into the brooding boy wonder. Finally, we are left with the realization that all of this was somehow orchestrated by The Court of Owls to get Grayson back in Gotham and in the Nightwing persona once again. (Why do they want that…? I have no clue)
- Grayson #15: Grayson, Red Robin, Red Hood, and Robin go about training the “Robins”. Once the cream of the crop are chosen, Grayson sends them all out on missions, accompanied by a former Robin, in order to get one step ahead of the Police. During all this, Grayson has been secretly feeding the “Batman” information. It was all a setup by Grayson to protect the kids and keep everyone out of harm’s way. I’ll let him explain the details to you.
- Detective Comics #47: After Grayson’s “betrayal”, the Robins find themselves in a custom made super prison that even the police find questionably excessive. While the Robins try to figure a way out of their cages, Grayson teams with Gordon to unearth the culprit behind the plot to destroy the Robins.
After a brief intro reminding us of Grayson’s circus background, we get an eye-full of this… I hate having to be the one to reiterate this again and again, but I just can’t let stuff like this slide: this is Jim Gordon! He just scaled a 50 story building, and now he is hanging on the underside of a gargoyle with one hand while holding Grayson’s full weight in his other. No, no, no no no. THAT IS NOT POSSIBLE! I’m sick of seeing stuff like this, and trust me, I’m just as sick of talking about it as some of you probably are of reading me complain about it. I just want this stupidity to be over with. Gordon accomplishing something like this, demeans when the actual super heroes engage in feats like these. It’s even worse when you consider that Gordon made the climb, but Grayson somehow slipped and needed saving while doing something that has become as easy to him as scratching his own butt. I’m so finished with absurdity like this that I can’t even keep my exasperation in check anymore. Fortunately, the rest of the book is uphill from here, but this intro sure put me in a foul mood.
The proceeding scene involved a search of council woman Noctua’s office by Grayson and Gordon. During the search, the two discuss Gordon’s perspective on underage super heroing. It was a wonderful thing to see the comic delving into, because it is a topic often bandied around by fans of the franchise. Being that it is such a long lived debate, it was nice to see the characters weighing in on the subject themselves. The scene also took the time to acknowledge another tenet of super hero comics, the super villain’s evil plans. In this instance, they were quite literally drawn out schematics and plans. At first, I thought it was kind of doofy that they found the plans so easily. Much like the way Duke Thomas easily stumbled across the Penguin’s notes in one of the more recent issues of Batman. The fact that Grayson actually provides some witty commentary on the subject, had me giving it my seal of approval, rather than a display of mockery.
The rest of the book is spent with the Robins in The Cage, and it is awesome! The sequence has an extended fight scene, a daring escape, multiple put-downs by Damian, and a moment of self realization from Duke that had me cheering. While the scene with Gordon and Grayson had me questioning the superiority of normal people to supers, The Cage scene did nothing but support how much more skilled the trained Robins are when compared with the amateur ones. It seemed that the very point of all of this was to drive home the fact that the supers really are leaps and bounds ahead of this new group of pretenders. The fact that this is the exact opposite message of what is being sent with Gordon had me a bit confused as to the intentions of the writers. Granted, the Gordon thing was more interpretive on my part, while the stuff with the Robins is clearly spelled out, but I’d still like a little more attention payed to making Gordon not look so adept.
Carmine Di Giandomenico handles art for this issue, and considering that half the book is essentially wordless action sequences, it was very important to pair an artist with this story who could convey what was going on without having to resort to a bunch of exposition. Not only was he successful in this regard, but he also managed to storyboard an encounter that emanated energy, tension, and excitement. I honestly can’t recall ever seeing anything like this before, so extra points for originality. I only noticed one little visual error:
- The issue ends with all the Robins making their way to the roof where they are meet by several Talons who block their path. After the way the team just handed it to The Court’s team of “security owls”, I’m not too concerned about their chances against these guys. In previous stories, we have seen the Talons get taken down by several of the characters present. If anything, I can see the Talons threatening the amateurs to get the Robins to surrender, but other than that, I don’t see this as too suspenseful a cliffhanger.
- I thought it was kind of odd that one minute Damian is telling Duke to get his brain working and in the next panel he is telling him to get out of his head and into the fight. Damian just wants everything simultaneously and instantaneously, doesn’t he?
- Not sure if the reference was intentional or not, but you can’t say “curiouser and curiouser” without someone drawing an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland parallel.
- You feel that dynamic action should be the center-piece of any story.
- You wanna see a Robin vs Robin fight done right.
- You like when a little bit of meta commentary makes it’s way into a story.
- Referential humor makes you laugh.
- You like sequential choreography.
- You wanna see a story that shows our super heroes actually being super.
I’ve been very pleased with “Robin War” so far, and this issue continues to deliver the fun. I think that “fun” is the operative word here, and an underrated commodity these days. People are always trying to put meaning and higher purpose behind their stories. Trying to say something about society and alter the way we think about the world. I’m not saying that this story doesn’t have that, I’m just pointing out that it isn’t afraid to have fun at the same time. It just reminds me of the good old days where comics were entertainment first and foremost, and if you got a message, that was a bonus. While this specific issue is definitely geared for the action oriented, you’ll also find plenty of humor and some meta commentary to round out your reading pleasure. I had a great time with this issue and am seriously looking forward to next week when we get part 5 of “Robin War” in Robin: Son of Batman #7.
SCORE: 8.5 / 10