In issue #5 we’re subjected to a video-game inspired telling of how the Robins could have ended up without Batman in their lives. Well, almost all of the Robins. Unfortunately, Tim is still pointlessly kidnapped by Jenny Wren. But, at the very least, if you’ve been waiting for an explanation for why Wren kidnapped Tim, it’s revealed in this issue… but it still makes zero sense beyond plot contrivance.
Part five of Tim Seeley’s six-part mini-series is an unsatisfying character study of the Robins that, like the previous four chapters makes you ask, why even bother making a plot that retcons so much Batman lore? At this point it feels like the series has accomplished very little other than drag the Robins through the mud until they become a gross misrepresentation of who longtime readers know them to be. Which is surprising, coming from Seeley, who has a long history of writing Dick Grayson quite well. But even when the book isn’t rewriting history and instead relies on hypothetical scenarios to meet its page count it still left me feeling empty. As Robins explores different facets of each sidekick’s potential self, revelations are repeatedly dismissed and only serve as a solution against the terrible villains’ schemes. Check the spoiler text for more information on why the villains’ schemes suck.
And these villains? They are either pulled out of thin air or receive the same horrendous treatment. Anarky is perhaps the worst offender because Seeley’s writing of that character is incredibly disingenuous and distasteful. The previous issues making his followers look like q-anon obsessed chatroom dwelling freaks who know nothing but the absolute bare minimum of anarchist talking points. Spoiler even tells Anarky to return to his Ayn Rand cave like that isn’t the ideological opposite of anarchism.
Maybe you’re still here because of the art or because you voted for this series and by God you’re not gonna let it go! Well I can agree with the first point. To an extent. The video-game inspired aesthetic is impactful, working its way into darker images like the warped face of Dick Grayson being placed above the hallucination of game points. So the hallucinations start having sprites that pop up and congratulate the Robins and the holographic power extracted in part from the data breach gloms onto the characters like they’re being scanned by a 3d-printer. The art is still handicapped by a story that refuses to maintain a cohesive narrative and jams dialogue into panels where the characters stand around wasting precious pages.
Couldn’t we have explored the Robin characters in a more natural way like in the first issue where they talked it out around a table and maybe have some pages reenacting that? Is it too much to ask for these characters to be rooted in a mutual curiosity for each other rather than tearing them apart in order to explore a made-up alternate version of themselves that just doesn’t impact the story in any meaningful way?
- Ripping out a couple pages of great art from bad comics is worth the price tag
- You voted for this series and live by a “you made your bed now lie in it” philosophy
I would recommend staying away from this entire series. I’ve heard great things about Seeley’s and the artists’ other works so maybe just stick to their other works instead!
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.