Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Robin #1 (1991)


Robin #1 (Janurary, 1991)

"Big Bad World"
Chuck Dixon - Writer
Tom Lyle - Penciller
Bob Smith - Inker
Tim Harkins - Letterer
Adrienne Roy - Colorist
Dan Raspler & Denny O'Neil - Editors
Bob Kane (and Bill Finger) - Character Creators
Cover Price: $1.00

This is one of those books that felt like it went immediately from the shipment crate to behind the glass case at my local comic shop.  Growing up, there were several instances where books never seemed to find their way onto the shelves.  I can think of three examples off the top of my head, Infinity Gauntlet #1, Youngblood #1, and the issue to be discussed today... the first issue of the first Robin mini-series.  I can't honestly say that my local comic shop didn't put these books on the shelf for a day or two before jacking the price up (except for Youngblood #1, which was tagged at $5.00 on its day of release... suppose that's a story for another time), however, I know we visited the shop several times a week, and never had the opportunity to pick them up at cover price.  This was ultimately a mid-2000's quarter-bin find.

That being said, I suppose I had attributed some sort of mythological importance to this book that upon reading today is noticeably (and unfortunately) absent.  There had to be some reason why this issue in particular was (almost) immediately placed under glass, surely?  Well... it's a fine and fun issue, and it comes with a poster, so I suppose there's that... but nothing terribly earth-shaking or senses-shattering to be found.

--

We open on a discussion between Robin (Tim Drake) and Batman.  They are discussing Tim being sent to Paris for some training, all the while Tim is expressing feelings of doubt, insecurity, and a fear of not being worthy of the Robin name or costume.

Confusing paragraph incoming... I suppose I would be remiss not to mention that according to the current DC Comics post-Flashpoint continuity, Tim Drake was apparently never Robin.  He hopped straight into the Red Robin persona... though I believe it was mentioned in an early issue of Teen Titans that he had in fact been Robin... which, I suppose they changed their minds about, and amended for the collected editions to state that he hadn't... either way, I suppose this story may still fit into New-52 era continuity with a change to Tim's costume and code-name.

Tim is also depicted as being much older here than he would be during Young Justice and his various Teen Titans stints.  Looking at the awesome Brian Bolland cover, Tim could pass for drinking age.  This reminds me of pre-Generation X Jubilee.  She was always depicted as being somewhere between 16 and 18, once Generation X started up, she was suddenly written and drawn as though she were 12-13.

Meanwhile in Tokyo, Lady Shiva is given a contract to locate a man who calls himself the King Snake.

Tim packs and travels to Paris, where he meets both his master, Rahul Lama and Shen Chi, a student (and grandson) of the master.  Shen Chi is certainly a character of his time; he has a spiky mullet with the sides shaved, and has quite a bit of early nineties 'tude.  We observe some of their training, after which Shen Chi decides to take Tim out on the town.

Shen Chi is cooler than most.
While out and about, Tim runs into a young woman named Ling who appears to take an immediate liking to our young hero.  They go for a stroll and wind up before a street gang, the leader of which has a special interest in Ling.  Tim suffers a stiff kick to the face, and a threat of worse if they meet again as Ling is dragged away.

Tim returns to the dojo, dons his Robin gear and heads out in pursuit.  He comes across a building where the gang has a man held captive and bound.  They are beating him.  Tim drops in to try to even the odds, and is introduced to something of an ally in Clyde Rawlins.  Lady Shiva watches the brawl from a nearby balcony, and we are [to be continued...]

--

All in all, a fun issue which was definitely hindered by my unwarranted high expectations.  Chuck Dixon is a great writer, and it truly is a shame that he is no longer involved with DC Comics (for whatever reason).  I thought for sure Dixon would have penned at least one of the Convergence Batman titles from last summer (2015), and was disappointed not to see his name on any of the solicits.  When I think of 1990's Batman, my mind immediately goes to Chuck Dixon.  He was responsible for so much great Bat-related stuff... Nightwing, Robin, and Birds of Prey among them.

Tom Lyle's art is also great, however, I always kind of file him under "Marvel style artist" in my head.  This book has a very late-eighties/early-nineties Marvel feel to it, art-wise.

Not much to be said, insofar as a review.  This was a very boilerplate "Part 1 of 5" type of tale.  Threats are established, side characters are put in place, and we get a vague motivation for our hero.  Not bad by any stretch (quite good, in fact), just very well-worn road.

--

Interesting Ads:

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Gotta wonder if "Sherry" is on a watch-list somewhere... 
This Starman series was great fun.
Criminally under-rated and well worth a read!
--

Quotes:

Clyde: "... What's your name?"
Robin: "Call me Robin."
Clyde: "Rockin' Robin, huh?"
Robin: "No, just Robin."
Clyde: "Well, get rockin', Robin!"

--

Now, I didn't yank the poster out of my copy.  However, in the interest of completion-ism, here's a scan I found of it online:

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