Tim Drake is trying to forge his own path in the Gotham Marina, away from Batman, trying to find out what life could be like if he didn’t have to worry about being Robin. While trying to build a relationship with Bernard, an evil genius in love with detective stories keeps pulling Tim Drake back into the life of crime fighting.
Let me start off this review by stating the many reasons that people are angry about this comic. Some fans are just mad to see a bisexual Tim Drake be in a romantic relationship with another man. These fans are incredibly annoying and have rushed to the comments of my last review to spill their vitriol everywhere. They have made it difficult for others to come and share their opinion about this comic and I really hope they realize how awful they are to the one community they supposedly love but in the likely case where they don’t they will be banned if they try to express these views here. The valid criticisms I’ve seen have to do with the fact that Tim Drake was in a relationship that many people were really involved with and that is just cut off without any explanation before this series starts. Stephanie being replaced by Bernard is also really annoying to people who know this obscure character because of how cringe Bernard was in the past. Bernard goes from being a horny teenager pining after Tim’s mom to this sensitive and blank canvas-y kind of character. Bernard’s transformation is only slightly less aggravating to people when compared to how little of the original Tim Drake is present in this series. Where is Tim’s obsession with his computer or electronics? In fact, so far, he doesn’t really have much character at all and is just meandering on the same points as last issue which for Tim Drake’s first solo series is really disappointing.
Apart from the anti LGBTQIA+ hatred of the character I do think that these criticisms are valid and I can easily see why so many people have been annoyed at this comic. I acknowledge and bring up these points because I do want to highlight them but for the rest of the review I will try to isolate this series as much as possible from the other comics where we see Tim Drake or Bernard or Sparrow. In order to review this series I will make sure to bring up these points of grief at the beginning of my reviews but y’all should expect the rest of these reviews to look at the comic itself from now on.
So let’s start off with the way Meghan Fitzmartin’s story is constructed and the characters involved. Like I mentioned earlier a lot of the characters in this comic just feel like blank canvases that fit whatever storybeat the writer wants them to fit. The struggle to write his own path has clearly overwhelmed Robin and is forcing him to follow this evil genius so there’s little to no point in pretending like he’s still trying to do that. His dialogue becomes nostalgic of the previous issue without feeling developed. Bernard is just there to always support Robin for now as is Sparrow. The officers of the law have a little character to them in the sense that most are clearly against Robin and one of them is helping the vigilante but there’s not much more to add there. The stories of this series have relied heavily on other famous detective stories which only further makes the characters feel like stand-ins.
The story itself is just a reminder of other things we could be reading or like if you were reading a DC comic next to a detective fan who kept taking the comic out of your hands to tell you how similar this is to like Scooby Doo or Sherlock. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the detective elements of this comic because they are presented way better in this issue than the first one but they don’t seem that relevant other than to constantly remind us of older detective stories. This is Tim Drake’s first solo-series so please let him have his own thing going on instead of these endless callbacks to literally anything but the character we care about! The spirit form of the detective story isn’t even present in this issue so it’s really inconsistent already.
I do feel as though the art by Riley Rossmo has become more relevant to the actual comic this time rather than just trying to convey their style 24/7. I can totally understand that this style isn’t for everyone and the faces of characters especially seem like the weird mashup of thumbs and potatoes but if you aren’t put off by the art then it has a lot to offer. First of all the panel composition works in three amazing ways. There are lots and lots of panels that are inconsistent in size and crammed together which gives the comic a fast pace that makes you cut from one section to the next as though the action is becoming a bit blurry with speed. This would be disorienting but Rossmo also changes the angle of certain frames to have the characters looking in the direction of certain characters or action that clues us into the important parts. In addition to this there are panels that are basically chalk outlines within scenes. These special panels let us focus on specific moments and get in the mind of a detective isolating clues. There are other ways that Rossmo balances blurry speed with intuitive clues but I’ll let y’all pick that apart by yourselves.
- Old classic detective stories in DC comic book form is right up your alley
- Rossmo’s art and panel composition isn’t an instant pass
- You have no idea who Tim Drake is and do not care in the least to find out
I get why people are disappointed. I’m disappointed. Even if I ignore the history of Tim Drake this comic is still just an inconsistent reference making machine and manages to grind everyone’s gears. I want this story to develop, to find its own footing, to tap into its source material more rather than the source material of detective stories in general. When this series manages to do that, and those who not only stomach Rossmo’s style but actually enjoy it stick around, then I feel like this series will be grand. But boy does it have a lot to make up for…
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News a free copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.