Revisiting Robin Issues 1-100

12 May

Okay, So, I just finished reading all of Robin #1-100… In, well, about three days.  Yeah, Finals week has been great!

It’s kind of disappointing that not many of these issues have hit the Trade Paperback route yet because that makes them a lot more accessible to new readers.

The reason I’m doing this retrospective look on these issues is because 1. It’s a nice number and 2. Chuck Dixon was the writer… for all of them!  100 issues is roughly 8 years of writing the same comic… that’s some devotion.  Plus, he was handling a lot of the other bat titles around that time.

Okay, I’ll run through the Good and the Bad (and the Ugly… god, I love that movie) and include some interesting thoughts afterwards. 

THE GOOD:

 – All 100 of these issues follow a relatively easy-to-read, straight-up story.  It’s pretty phenomenal, actually.  To read 100 issues and catch plot developments that have been going on for 10 issues or hints or references to things that happened 60 issues before are actually pretty cool.  It all works to add believability with a continued timeline within the diegesis of the comics.
 – The Stephanie Brown/Robin (Tim Drake) relationship is really well done.  Sure, Stephanie’s a bit whiney sometimes, but it still turns out to be a really mature read for a relationship… despite their age (see the Bad section in a bit)
 – The comic addresses teenager problems and topics such as sex, drugs, gambling, violence, and alcoholism, but it does it in a very believable way to reach out to people who may be going through a rough time but still entertaining everyone else.
 – The emphasis is more put on Robin being solo and occasionally teaming up rather than as Batman’s bitch.
 – Batman/Bruce Wayne is not a father to Tim Drake… at all.  It’s seen more as a partnership with a high amount of trust.
 – The Secret Identity conundrum is handled often and is incredibly problematic, and I really enjoy when Tim Drake’s life intersects with Robin’s.
 – Tim Drake is an admirable character who doubts himself and his abilities, but remains confident in his positive influence (most of the time).
 – Robin’s internal dialogue is often hillarious.

THE BAD:

Tim Drake

 – Batman’s a giant douche… and sometimes he’s the coolest guy ever.  I sort of want some more coherence on that.
 – The story’s completely solid for 100 issues except for when big events in the Batman universe happen which isn’t as much Dixon’s fault as it is the Batman Editors.  They interupt the continuity and cause problems with what Chuck was buidling to in earlier issues… the whole flow’s broken apart and has to start anew.
 – Robin occasionally has some really lame-ass enemies… I often found myself skipping pages just so I could get to the Tim Drake/Relationship parts of an issue because I found them to be way better written.
 – There’s not much character development.  Sure, Tim doubts himself and he gets over it, but I still don’t see how in this large amount of issues he got to the point where he’s fighting Jason Todd for the Battle of the Cowl and bitching at Dick Grayson for not believing in the need for a Batman.  There are plot developments, but hardly any character.
 – The characters are always drawn way older than they are… I mean, I believe Spoiler has her baby when she’s 15… but she seriously looks 20.  Dixon also writes them a bit older, too.  I’m a firm believer in writing a person’s age (or casting a person in a film who are they relative age of their characters).
 – Some of the story/plot elements repeat 20 issues down the road like Stephanie being jealous or Tim missing from home so his (real) Dad goes crazy, or Tim moving or changing schools.
 – Occasionally the art can be a little overbearingly cartoon-y.

SOME OTHER INTERESTING STUFF:

So, I was talking about this to Megan yesterday, and it’s the whole notion of time.  Scott McCloud talks about how time’s represented in comics through the use of sequential pictures along with text to create a story, but I believe that time could be considered a much more complex thing.  Comics (Superhero, at least) quite often include pop culture references in interesting ways to keep the comic relevant or to make a joke.  One issue comes out about every month for the said comic while only a day or week may pass within the diegesis of the comic (within the comic world or the story of the comic).  So, a pop culture reference to CD being the new cool thing to have may be in issue 12 and then a reference about the Clinton scandal may show up in issue 60.  The time it takes in the real world to get from issue to 12 to issue 60 is about 4 years, but the time those comics might represent within the comic may only be 6 months to a year.  In essence, comics slow down time for their personal stories while the real, human world buzzes around at a faster pace.  I believe that this can only truly be recognized when reading so many comics in a row because 1. a pop culture reference may only appear every 6 or so issues and 2. there’s enough material to truly see the passage of time in both worlds.

Second interesting thing… Chuck Dixon is a conservative and it occasionally shows.  To tell you the truth, this doesn’t really offend me because I believe that politics will never be removed from anything humans do in whatever medium, but it could be deceptive.  I’m reading a new book that just came out called “The 10 Cent Plague” about the crisis with comic books in the 50s and how accusations were about some superheroes using fascist motives to have the ends justify the means.  I find it ridiculous of them equating Superman to Hitler, but I can sort of see their point.  Robin and his friends completely work outside the law, and, to some extent, it disturbs me.  Occasionally, Robin will question how legal an action by one of his comrades may be, but he never thinks twice about it because they broke the law to serve his quest at protecting the people.  Also, he never questions himself over the legality of his own actions.  It’s interesting to think of.  Sure, some of the stuff in the Robin comic offended me because it was written through a conservative lens, but I accept it and I don’t think it changes the characters and what they stand for.  Usually, Dixon was fair with keeping politics out, but occasionally it would sneak out.  My only fear is for younger readers or those reading the comic who completely miss the underlying politics.  It’s important to recognize any sort of bias or viewpoint any work’s from and to acknowledge their beliefs, examine them, and see if they match your own… I just don’t want a comic influencing readers unknowlingly so they can’t make up their own decisions.

 

THE VERDICT:

 Okay, it seems like there was a lot of bad, but there truly are some real gems here and Tim Drake’s a wonderful character.  If you like relationships (vigilante relationships, especially) then these comics definitely satisfy.  There’s occasionally a run of 5 comics that really suck on the Robin side of things but are pretty neat on the relationship side of things for Tim Drake.  Sometimes, there are comics that focus entirely on Robin which could be annoying, but luckily these typically kick a lot of ass.  There’s a lot of meaning and depth in the plots and stories, but sometimes the supporting characters come off a little flat and typecasted.  If you like Batman and want to read more about his protege’ then these are good ones.

Overall, I give issues 1-100:
3.5/5 stars

I really need to make some star graphics…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: