Smiley begins his gradual ascent to gang leader status as a small group of miscreants are drawn to his madness. Meanwhile, the gang of Robins goes about their mundane civilian lives, but in actuality, I found myself far more empathetic and interested in their daily grind than any of their vigilante exploits.
For those of you who didn’t hear, June is the month that DC will roll out “Rebirth“, their newest play for acquiring your hard earned dollar. While there might be some additional announcements coming later down the road, as it stands, there is currently no indication that We are Robin is going to be one of the books carried forward into DC’s new world, which means we only have 3 issues left. While some might consider this a shame (and it is really, the book is just now starting to get really good), I think it’s a real opportunity for the series to actually present a solid ending.
I’ve seen a lot of series come and go over the years, and one of the endings that often pops up relies on the concept that just because we aren’t seeing the characters anymore doesn’t mean that they aren’t out there somewhere right now fighting the good fight. The last page is usually a full page spread of the main protagonist jumping off into the night to tackle some unknown threat while inspirational internal monologues proclaim their undying dedication to eradicating evil. While that is good and all, I’m much more interested in seeing these kids on a path to a realistic future.
At no point have I had illusions that any of these kids would make a genuine future in the vigilante business. I think it’s great that they want to stand against tyranny and corruption, but once their youthful exuberance has been depleted, I’d imagine they would turn their energies towards much more sustainable pursuits. That’s not to say that some of them won’t still find ways to bring about change, just not ways that will get them thrown in jail or killed. One could argue that watching them fail at being vigilantes is hardly enthralling. I’d argue that while these event might not have breed the next generation of super heroes, I’d still like to think that the gang of Robins learned valuable lessons, lessons they will take into the future and use to succeed at in life.
This installment of We are Robin is basically 9/10ths talking, with just a smidgen of action thrown in the mix. And that is ok with me. Much in the same way that I found the narrative depth from last month’s issue highly more entertaining than the random acts of vigilantism this series usually throws at us, this story follows suit as we continue our exploration of character. We are presented with a medley of scenes that delve into the personal lives of our cast. While there are a couple instances of heroism, nothing really compares to the previous levels of city wide disaster aversion this team has been forced to deal with. Instead, Izzy is faced with making decisions about her future, Duke comes to terms with what happened to his parents, and Riko has to deal with the pain of unrequited love.
As I said, the heroism is dialed back, but when it does show up, it has even more meaning than some of the previous missions the team has undertook. Here, Dre is just stopping a mugging, and I find that to be a far more fitting and down to earth task for the Robins to be engaged in anyway. It’s not about saving millions of nameless/faceless masses, but making a difference for a single family. Making a connection with them and inspiring them.
Dax’s little adventure doesn’t really fit into either of those categories. He is just testing out the grapple gun he made. But I wanted to comment on it because I think it is important to recognize it as a big deal. After-all, he is just a normal person like you or I. Reading as many comics as I am sure we all have, and seeing Batman swing through the night on numerous occasions while making it look as easy as going for a walk, we may have come to take it for granted. But the fact of the matter is, it’s a pretty ballsy thing to do. I don’t think many of us would have the guts to take a leap off a building with nothing but a decel-line between us and pancake city. I appreciate when this book reminds us that these are just normal people, and in doing so, calls our attention to just how super the Super Heroes really are.
Since last month, I’ve come to realize that Smiley is nothing more than a member of the bored upper class. He was privileged in every conceivable way, and yet he chooses to throw it all away for some excitement. Since everything was easily within his reach, he needed to look elsewhere to get his kicks. It’s pretty sad really. He even complains about undergoing facial reconstruction. Granted, it didn’t turn out that well for him, but it was still an option that was available to him. Not everyone has that kind of expendable income. And sure, his parents are tough on him, but whose aren’t. Seems to me this kid made a mountain out of a mole hill. If he really wanted to get back at his parents, he should have gone to college on their dollar and then never spoken to them again. Instead, he killed them and ruined his life. But here I go again trying to reason with a crazy person.
It’s also interesting that the villain comes from a privileged background, but chooses to do evil, while the Robins are all underprivileged, but choose to do good. I’m not sure what this says, or if it was even intentional, but I figured it was worth bringing up.
The last thing I wanted to mention was the way in which Gotham is portrayed in this story. So many horrible things happen in Gotham that I often joke about why anybody would even choose to live there. People often focus on the negative, but this story points out that Gotham creates just as many heroes as it does villains. And while Gotham can take everything away from you in a heartbeat, some people do actually come here to make a future. Because comics are about heroes defeating evil, the stories obviously focus on terrible events and the worst parts of town. Since all we ever see depicted of Gotham are the most horrendous catastrophes, we don’t usually stop to consider that there are also plenty of days where nothing major goes on at all.
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?
Jorge Corona handles art as usual, but instead of giving a play by play breakdown on his performance, I’ll just let the picture above speak for itself. I will say that I liked how he hide a smiley face in the night sky with the crescent moon and those two brighter stars. I love when artists hide fun little details like that.
Neal Adams variant cover for We are Robin #9
Odd that Troy Walker was chosen to represent one of the Robins instead of Andre Cipriani.
The original cover from Detective Comics #408 and Adams’ pencils for the variant.
- You want to delve further into the personal lives of the cast.
- You want to watch Smiley’s slow but steady rise to infamy.
We are Robin #9 doesn’t have a whole lot of action, but it definitely makes up for it with plenty of depth, heart, and intelligence. I’m not sure where the last 3 issues are planning on taking us, but I’m hoping for a strong thematic ending over an action blowout extravaganza.
SCORE: 8.5 / 10