As it turns out, there was some shifting with the issues, and we did get the Robin issue this month. So… I have no clue what that means for next month. I’m sure it will be the “Darkseid War” aftermath issue, but I still don’t think that makes much sense considering all of the Justice League members have had their individual Rebirth titles released. Anyway, we have this issue, it features Robin, and I’m sure some of you will be grumbling about my score in the comments. Before anyone starts slamming down some exclamation points though, I want to remind you, 5/10 is not “bad” on our site. We don’t grade like schools, and the book didn’t fail… It just means that it was average in every single way. Seriously though, there were only two moments in this issue that got positive a reaction from me, and they were both near the end of the book.
Since Justice League has two issues to kill before its Rebirth, I knew that we were bound to be graced with filler issues. Automatically, that leaves me with a “meh” reaction. I’m not trying to be mean, but “filler” usually means “less than great.” However, that’s not always the case. Every now and then you get a great surprise – like Percy’s “Terminal” – that knocks you on your butt because it’s so damn good! Clearly that doesn’t happen here.
“First Impressions” takes place shortly after the Justice League came together in Geoff Johns’ Justice League: Origin. After forcing open a boom tube to send Darkseid back to Apokolips, the earth started experiencing weird anomalies. Initially, there wasn’t much concern considering it was just abnormal weather in certain locations, but then physical threats start showing up, and that changes the story.
Batman answers the League’s call, and brings Robin with him to the watch tower, where he’s met with varied reactions. This is essentially where the issue transitions to your cliché’ “show’em what you’re worth, and discover your place along the way” story. The action is fast paced though, and the threat continues to evolve and change throughout the issue, so that alone should hold your attention.
The dialogue itself, however, is not the best. There are far too many heavy handed moments that don’t feel natural for the narrative and especially the characters. I’ve never seen Dick so unsure of himself before, and it’s just weird. Yeah, he’s “out of his league,” but that’s never stopped him from being his typical, talkative self. I actually found myself wondering if this was Tim for a second because that was the closest association I could make – but even that would’ve been out of character. The questionable characterization doesn’t stop at Robin though. Wonder Woman is extremely stiff, while Flash and Green Lantern felt a little over the top. Honestly, Green Lantern’s dialogue reminded me more of a young Dick Grayson, than Dick did.
Finally, towards the end of the issue, the elements that I found interesting pop up. We get insight into the League’s initial thoughts and reservations about Robin, as well as the reason that Batman wanted him to tag along. The first of the two forced me to think of Robin in a new way, while the other had me wondering if it was potential foreshadowing for the future… I won’t give it away here, but I will admit that it’s something I wouldn’t mind seeing at some point.
Now, for those of you that are reading this review for the sake that it leads into Titans Rebirth #1… I’d say that’s a bit of an overstatement. Yes there are hints at the idea that Dick will one day be a team leader, and it appears as though Robin will be the catalyst for something in the future, but it’s not clear what that is, who is behind it, and there isn’t much of a trace of it in Titans Rebirth #1. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that what appears to be hinted at in this issue, almost feels like a contradiction to what we discover in the DC Universe Rebirth Special and Titans Rebirth #1… Basically, what I’m getting at, is that you could probably skip this issue and not miss anything too critical. Over time, that notion might change, but that’s my stance for now.
The Art: Paul Pelletier covered art duties for this issue and… it was alright. Much like the issue itself, it just felt pretty average. There were panels that looked decent, and then there were panels that looked below average. It was as if the consistency of the art matched the consistency of the script: ups and downs with no major wins or drawbacks.
Breakdowns can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Good: The mission. The action in the issue is rather enjoyable when it isn’t plagued with pauses to try and create moments. A cybernetic creature attacks Metropolis, and as the League fight it, they’re faced with challenges they didn’t expect as the technology adapts. On top of that, other threats continue to appear and attack the League, before it’s confirmed that the threats are entering through a weak spot in reality left from the portal that Cyborg opened to stop Darkseid. As far as plot, I thought it was rather strong.
Pretty damn scary. There’s a moment where Cyborg tells Robin that the fact that Batman chose to work with him, makes him “pretty damn scary.” I’ve never looked at the relationship between Batman and Robin in that way, but it made sense. Cyborg goes on to tell Robin to “ignore the put-downs. We’re all just wondering why we haven’t met you before. And we’re wondering what you’ve got that we haven’t.” It was the one time in this issue where I felt that the whole idea that Robin was trying to find his self-worth was justified and felt natural.
Tag along. The reveal that Batman brought Robin with him to assist the league so he can understand that he can be a viable member of the team, despite the fact that he doesn’t have powers, was a nice touch. But it wasn’t that moment in particular that made my hear jump a little, it was the fact that Batman tells Robin he’s going to lead the Justice League someday. I doubt we’ll ever see that happen (or at least any time soon, but the notion of it excites me.)
The Bad: Heavy handed and bad characterization. Abnett wrote way too many heavy-handed moments into this issue! I’m all for a moment popping up from time to time, but this was one after another. Between Robin being nervous, questioning his abilities, asking if people are ok, or asking if he did something wrong… it was too much. Thrown in the poor characterization, and it sealed the deal that this issue couldn’t get away with being “good.”
The man behind the curtain. There’s an evil presence throughout the entire issue that is planning to make his return. The issue never reveals who he is – although, I have my suspicions – but the entire thing just came across as being lame. If this is going to play a part in Titans, I hope it’s executed much better.
- You want a fun, light hearted adventure with the Justice League and Robin.
- You’ve wondered what Robin’s introduction to the Justice League was like.
- You’re curious to learn a possible plot point for Titans.
Overall: While light-hearted and fast paced, this issue doesn’t do much for me. I didn’t hate it, nor did I feel like I lost time, but I also don’t feel like this issue is needed for the sake of the overarching narrative. Had the dialogue and characterization been handled better, I’d probably be a little more enthusiastic.