With Batman out of the picture Tim Drake takes a moment to breathe, reflect on who he is and what he wants to become. There are moments where this makes him want to seek out meaningful relationships with non-vigilantes or moments where he slips back into the role of Robin and uncover crime; all the while resting at the Gotham Marina. Though he tries to seek out his own path, it seems like the world of Gotham is always ready to bring him back into the action.
This first issue is about the tug of war between Tim’s self discovery and the selfless role of Robin the vigilante. Meghan Fitzmartin reinforces this by having Tim on edge from the very get go. As he works his way through the marina he is constantly questioning what is going on around him as though danger was right around the corner because that’s the life he’s used to and it’s really difficult to just snap out of it. That is, at the beginning he’s like that. Then when he’s by Bernard’s side he is somewhat able to wind down, his only worries at that point being about the relationship he’s in and how to label it.
Honestly after their date though this dichotomy of worry is completely dropped. Tim Drake is just sucked back into the world of vigilantism and even worse, the storytelling both visually and through dialogue just completely drops the subject. Instead of a story where you have the world calling for him to fight crime versus the world he is suddenly able to explore as a human being we just get the same old story of Tim being the real mask for Robin the crimefighter.
Once the comic decides to drop the main conflict in Tim’s life the story just starts to really descend into mediocrity with some awful internal dialogue accompanied by decent to not so decent visual cues. In the beginning, the internal dialogue is a bit awkward but could’ve been easily fixed with some actual dialogue from Tim while on their date and having Bernard ask Tim to describe the other people in the marina so it doesn’t just look like two characters rambling at each other but actually interacting. God the rest is so much worse though.
When the setup, buildup and resolution of your mystery has to be explained by dialogue, each explanation quickly following the other, and it has to be repeated to the reader as well as the other vigilante, then not only are you destroying the pacing of the comic but you’re actively undermining the very concept of mysteries. There’s nothing intriguing about mysteries where I see a bunch of vaguely related footage of a fight and flight mixed in with the voiceover of a character who suddenly knows exactly what is going on, explains it twice, acts on it, then explains the action just to be sure we got it. I find the character interactions to be a bit superfluous here and there but I really wish the mystery solving and crime fighting wasn’t such a disaster to the point where the character relations look soooo much better in comparison.
And another plot contrivance for me was:
As for the art I won’t spend too much time talking about it because as I said there are moments that work well and clearly explain what’s going on visually, moments that are dynamic and laid out perfectly for a fight, and other times that seem like it’s just a style thing with no backbone. I personally am quite a fan of Riley Rossmo’s backgrounds and panel compositions but even I can recognize that the faces and character designs are not it. Someone on the Batman News team pointed out that their faces look like the handsome Squidward meme and I can’t unsee it now. The combination of their faces and squiggled on tattoos makes it hard for me to call the artist by their name since all I’m thinking of is the “squiggly Squidward guy”.
Lee Loughridge has some serious talent for coloring though and is definitely my favorite part of the comic. There’s a simple trick they do that works really well where everything in the foreground is colored with bright colors, usually yellow and orange, whereas the background is much darker, usually black and green. These colors really clash against each other and give us a solid idea of the space in which each character inhabits. The consistency of the background also really helps give you an idea of the seediness of the Marina so even though we’re not seeing the most typical parts of Gotham it’s still very clear that we’re in the same deprived, dark and desolate city.
- You’ve never heard of Tim Drake and won’t be upset that he’s completely misrepresented
- The lesser known parts of Gotham sounds like a cool setting
- Well drawn action in clearly colored escapades seems sick
While I enjoyed the theme of this issue and the character relations are pretty fun, both of these elements are pretty much thrown out the window to make place for the dumbest mystery I’ve read in a while told in the least interesting way possible. The art on the other hand has some great work that gives you the right amount of balance between action and information but sometimes fails to give you anything other than style, Squidwards and squigglies…
Disclaimer: Batman News received a copy of this comic from the publisher for the purpose of this review.