The Robins square off against the Talons while Grayson makes his way to the roost of The Court of Owls! That actually sounds a lot more exciting than it turned out to be…
For those of you not reading any of the other Bat-titles and only reading Robin: Son of Batman, you probably opened this issue and were very confused. What is going on? How did Damian get here? What is up with the art? Let me help clear up some of that for you. Robin: Son of Batman #7 is part 5 of the currently on-going “Robin War” storyline. If you have no interest in picking up the other books, or you just want a reminder of what happened, you can check out my review of part 4 here that also includes synopses for part 1-3.
“Robin War” has been very entertaining and a real fun read….so far. Having said that, this is the first issue that I felt really dropped the ball in terms of quality and content. The first thing you’ll notice upon opening the book is that Patrick Gleason does not provide the internal art for this issue. Instead, Scott McDaniel is on pencils. While McDaniel does an acceptable enough job, his art is leaps and bounds away from being as beautiful and refined as Gleason’s. It also comes as a shock since Gleason has handled all the art for Robin: Son of Batman thus far, covers and internal. Picking up this issue and seeing his art on the cover as usual but then not inside was somewhat of a surprise. In many ways, Robin:Son of Batman is his baby since he provides the story and art for the series. Now this is just me spitballing, but I wonder how much he felt that this storyline was invading his space. Maybe he passed on art duties because he didn’t care to pencil a narrative that had nothing to do with his vision for the character. (I swear, I’m not trying to start a rumor that Gleason has a problem with DC)
Next comes the story. Once again, it’s acceptable, but there are definitely some problems that need addressed. First off, it felt to me like they tried to cram way too much material into one book. What was here could have easily been broken up into two issues. Instead, we have abrupt changes in locale without a real lead-in to the scenes in question, characters show up without any explanation as to how they got where they are, and other characters who have no business being alive make appearances. It feels like they didn’t completely map out “Robin War” before they got to work on it. They just went about telling their story and were told at the last minute by DC that the next issue was the conclusion so they had to squeeze everything they had left to say into this one.
Not only was the content here worth spreading out, but some of the narrative deserved and could have easily supported a more lengthy story. This would have allowed for more time to flesh out and explore some of the ideas presented within this arc . As it stands, certain elements felt like they came to an abrupt ending when they still had plenty of mileage left in them. We still have the next issue to look forward to, but I can’t imagine how we are going to get the kind of payoff that could possibly measure up to the possibilities that this arc teased.
I know a lot of people are really enjoying this arc, so I have no desire to spoil the story for anyone. Check the tag for some of the specifics I found troublesome.
- Riko has a panic attack. That is fairly uncharacteristic. I’d be more inclined to believe that Izzy would freak out. Although, it does make sense to have Riko recite The Court of Owls nursery rhyme since she has shown a penchant for such things.
- Councilwoman Noctua has an unexpected change of heart and decides to screw over The Court. Seeing as how I assumed she was one of the primary villains, this twist is more confusing than surprising.
- Without any rigmarole, Grayson just waltzes into The Court’s labyrinth. At one point in time, it was impossible to find these guys, and now it’s no big thing. I know Batman did the same thing during EndGame, but if these guys are always in the same place, why hasn’t anyone just gone down there and taken them all out instead of letting them plot?
- When they enter the tunnels under Gotham Academy, Riko warns the others to be quiet because sound carries weirdly in the tunnels. She says it as if from experience. As if she learned not to do it from the first time she went down there. The only problem is, they never went into the tunnels in that issue of Gotham Academy.
- Hearing Red Hood and Red Robin call Gordon Batman makes me cringe.
- Much like Noctua, Gordon seems to have a quick change of heart when it comes to the fate of the “Robins”. Admittedly, he was on the fence before, but we never really got to see the deciding factor that altered his conviction.
- Lincoln March shows up. When we last saw him, The Court was punishing him for his transgressions with eternal slumber. What exactly is he doing awake? He has essentially betrayed The Court twice before. With a track record like that, why would they openly work with him?
- Damian joined The Court? As if anyone reading this would believe that for more than half a second. As a cliffhanger, it fails to leave us with suspense because it’s obvious that he is just doing it to destroy The Court from within.
- You’re reading “Robin War”. This is part 5 of the arc.
This was a real low point for “Robin War”. I’ve greatly enjoyed this story arc up till now, but part 5 fails to deliver. The art was below standard and the story was overly stuffed, which in turn caused jarring transitions and unexplored shifts in character outlooks.
SCORE: 4 / 10