Let me start off this review with a correction. Tim Drake: Robin is not a mini-series and I was wrong to say that this would be the last issue of the Tim Drake: Robin saga. Honestly I’m glad that this is continuing because the next issue seems to be separate from the Moriarty stuff and maybe we’ll spend more time on the rest of the world. I want to see progress and maybe this change will help bring that about!
Now the review for the previous issue had an astonishing amount of comments, each one providing fun or insightful viewpoints that I am happy to share here before we start the review!
While I didn’t directly call it that in my review some were valid in saying that the previous issue really felt like padding. The filler feeling we got from that issue is due, in part, to the way that Fitzmartin “truthfully feels like she only writes the bare minimum to get where she wants to go”. As things that could be interesting get cut out or resolved off-panel.
One major concern for the commenters surrounds how canon this work is going to become. They feel like the marina characters are incredibly superfluous and don’t even get them started on how shallow Bernard has been written! There’s just a lack of excitement over the world that Fitzmartin has presented them and it feels like there might be potential but that it’s all unexplored or a diluted version of something the fans already know about.
While Rossmo has been talked about at length by the commenters there’s a common feeling that he wasn’t the right pick for this story. I’ve found myself really digging certain panels and pages but the fact that this story is a visual mess is something that I can agree with. The commenters say that Fitzmartin is partially responsible for this as well and they complain that the art is getting too much negative attention when the writing is what’s truely at fault.
Sadly I can’t talk about the comments anymore because it’s about time I start my review but please feel free to write your opinions below! Maybe you’ll be the next person to be highlighted for the next issue! If you want to see lots of incredibly well-written perspectives on bisexuality there are commenters in the previous review that have taken the time to share their life story which I can’t be thankful enough for. Finally, I came across this video by Thinkpiece Tribe about the backlash to Tim Drake that I wanted to share here as it also highlights criticism while addressing and denouncing the homophobia that surrounds his character.
Now that we’ve heard about all the things people have to say about the previous issues, what’s my opinion on this one? I honestly think the writing is still really hard to stomach. It’s tough to see all these points about how she dashes through dialogue and plot points only to have the ending contain the exact same problems. The antagonist delivers an incredibly mediocre speech about how they should team up and it sucks because I can see how this speech was supposed to work. It feels like the introduction and conclusion were written together but then the body paragraphs were allowed to do whatever they wanted. We see that Tim Drake wants to forge a unique identity, live outside of Wayne’s shadow and develop a genuine relationship with people. However that never really happens. So when the villain is like “you’ve been distracted!” and that Bernard and his family were pulling him in different directions my first thought is what is he talking about? We never got to see that!
I can see someone taking my criticism and pointing out that Tim Drake says that the real distraction was Moriarty, that he never got a chance to actually live out his life the way he wanted to because he always had a pair of eyes on him. There’s something to that and I won’t deny that this plot thread exists but the execution isn’t great in my opinion. Because it’s the kind of explanation that heavily relies on the villain and actively undermines the world around him. I already talked about how inconsistent and uninteresting the villain has been because he just rehashes old stories. Now, there was the vague idea that Tim would still be able to shape his own narrative by figuring out how to defeat Moriarty and this grand finale is supposed to be the pinnacle of that but how does he forge his own path? Since the world building is always getting rushed or presented in a generic way then there’s nothing for the reader to actually see as purely Tim’s.
As for Bernard, it actually blows my mind how little he seems to care. Without spoiling it, I just want to point out that the fact that he’s easy going isn’t an excuse for him to literally not care about what’s happened to him. I really hope the events of this issue get unpacked properly on their first date and that we see real emotions coming from this parody of a character. Like yeah things can get back to normal and that’s even somewhat expected but not like this! This isn’t an episode of South Park where the whole city gets rebuilt after mecha-streisand bulldozes her way through and we pretend like nothing’s happened. There are people who live here and we’re supposed to care about the changes that are happening around them. The gentrification, the evil landlord, the death of people that were part of the community… but it’s all just glossed over.
The saving grace of this comic has to be the art though. I am honestly glued to every page. From the panel composition to the character designs, to the action, to the lettering, to the colors, to the endless list of things I could point out that are going to make me buy this issue just to have it be sitting next to the pages I ripped out of the fourth issue and posted on my wall. Rossmo’s panel composition can be such a cool thing to witness when it’s combined with the fast paced action of his characters. While in the fourth issue it was more about having the detective moments come to life here we really see the distress of Tim as he fights to be reunited with his boyfriend. So many panels are toppling over each other as the fight becomes messy but never unintuitive. And the body horror is insane. When Tim rips off fake Batman’s face! Or the moment everything is exploding! Or just the way that Moriarty’s clay body is part flesh and part clay! There are so many amazing moments that I can point to and admire!
The incredible art is also made more majestic thanks to the coloring by Lee Loughridge. Because I want to spend so much time looking at each panel I get rewarded by the beautifully dark skylines in the background or the stars that appear in their greenish white dots across the sky. The stark contrast in the way that some pages are tinted also adds to the power of certain plot points where the red that encompasses everything is clearly an expansion of the flickering flame that Tim uses in desperation. I’m also a sucker for neon and I love the look of the neon heart at the end.
The biggest surprise for me art-wise has to be Tom Napolitano’s lettering. While the previous lettering in Tim Drake: Robin was nice this issue is just stunning! The variety of the “HA” and the unique lettering for people’s inner monologue and the intensity that resonates when Tim says “Bernard” is all accumulating to make the dialogue feel way more important than it actually is. One scene that I think is actually a great collaboration between everyone from the writer to the artists is the bomb defusal. The lettering takes center stage as it accentuates the time ticking away and covers people in parallel to how our minds get foggy in times of stress. The panel composition fittingly resembles a puzzle but with a Dutch angle to accentuate their stress. The coloring of the letters is so much brighter than the actual scenery and manages to make it feel even more dire only to have this wavy yellow “boop” as Steph changes tune to congratulate Tim on saving them all. Great work from everyone and, in isolation from the rest, a genuinely thrilling page!
- Body horror is your thing
- You care about good lettering and want to be impressed
- The coloring has you in a weird stressed and amazed limbo
If only Fitzmartin was able to focus! Moriarty’s big fight ended up looking so cool but I really don’t care about how we ended up here and I don’t know anyone that’s supposedly being saved by Tim. Maybe if this was cut short, turned into a three issue adventure and we honed in on Bernard, Moriarty and Tim then this could’ve been something but there’s too much getting skipped in favor of cramming in a million little pieces. If this was a three issue story I wonder if the art would have stayed this good throughout and it’s a shame that this is one of the few issues where I am more than happy to linger on every single panel and page.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.
Come check out my latest short story Sleepy Animals at loosedogmagazine.com !