Robin #58 (1998)

Robin #58 (October, 1998)
“The Stranger”
Writer – Chuck Dixon
Penciller – Staz Johnson
Inker – Stan Woch
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Letterer – Tim Harkins
Associate Editor – Jordan B. Gorfinkel
Editor – Denny O’Neil
Cover Price: $1.99

Had so much fun with Tim and Steph I decided maybe we should hang out with them a little longer.  I mean, Stephanie is going to need some looking after what with her being in a “family way”.  Is Tim the daddy?  Can you get pregnant from a kiss?  We’ll answer all those questions and more… right now!

We open on a gobsmacked Boy Wonder… Stephanie Brown is p-p-p-pregnant?!?  We get the distinct impression here that for a brief moment, Tim fears the baby might be his.  This facilitates Stephanie giving him the quick ‘n dirty on the birds and the bees…and births one of my favorite Robin references… “Boy Virgin”.

She continues, stating she hasn’t told the father-to-be as he fled Gotham in the wake of the quake.  She hasn’t yet told her mother, either.  Tim suggests she does at least confide in her mom, because there’s “things” that need to be done.  Stephanie flies off the handle, immediately taking this as Tim telling her to get an abortion… not so, however… Tim just wants her to start having regular doctor’s visits and for her to consider “hanging up the tights”… at least for the time being.

Later Robin returns to the Batcave and we see that it and the Mansion are being reinforced by handyman extraordinaire Harold… who is quite the strong fella.  Batman heads out on patrol, taking Robin’s Redbird, leaving the Boy Wonder behind to watch the monitors.

Robin hops on-line and gives a call to Oracle.  He asks her if they can talk some “non-professional” stuffs.  He confides in her that his friend is pregnant… after some “your friend?” confusion and razzing, Babs decides to lend him an ear.  I really miss the Oracle dynamic… really disappointed in what Barbara’s become since 2011.

We shift scenes to check in on a trio of Tim’s school chums.  They are debating whether or not Han Solo and Princess Leia got married following Return of the Jedi… which, I think we have a better idea of nowadays.  They also decide that the Star Wars “book” continuity “doesn’t count”… which is somewhat prophetic.  Anyhoo, they look into the broken window of an almost destroyed bakery… destroyed due to the Cataclysm… and they see a weird critter chompin’ on some nondescript baked good.

We rejoin Stephanie as she and her mother talk to a counselor at the Gotham County Social Services office.  Mrs. Brown tells the counselor that Stephanie has decided to have the child… from here, things get a bit uncomfortable… the counselor appears to begin pressuring Stephanie into considering having an abortion.  We’ll leave this here for now… and talk about it some more (in a very “riding the fence” sort of way) down below in the review/reflection portion.

We meet back up with Tim as he is shooting some hoops with his dorky friends.  They tell him the story of seeing a “monster”.  We then enter into flashback… which wasn’t terribly clear my first time reading this… the geeks are doing some urban spelunking through the Gotham wreckage.  Robin is hanging out keeping an eye on them… to keep them safe he gives them a spook and sends them running.  I’m guessing Robin was the “monster” they saw… rather than the creepy critter they saw in the bakery?  Okey dokey.  Anyhoo, they plan on returning to the wreckage to prove the beastie’s existence.

Back with Steph and Mom… they are now visiting… I wanna say it’s an adoption agency… but there’s a dude there offering her up to a hundred grand for her baby.  I didn’t know adoption worked like that… you’d almost figure folks would view this as a viable career if this were the case, no?  Can’t say I speak with any experience on the subject… for all I know, this is the way it goes.  Stephanie doesn’t take too kindly to all this, and they walk out.

That night, Robin and Stephanie have a rooftop pow wow.  They have a fairly uncomfortable chat before Robin bugs out to meet up with his foolish monster hunting friends.

The next several pages feature the boys seeing a monster… and Robin swinging through Gotham City engaging in some very teenagery introspection.  When he finally arrives at the wreckage he sees his pals locked inside a sort of vault… it’s basically the image from the cover… he then turns around to find himself in the presence of… Steeljacket (who?)!  To be continued…

Well, this is a pretty run of the mill issue.  Thankfully a Chuck Dixon “run of the mill” issue is still better than most.  We’ve got a few things to cover and reflect on here…

First, love the conversation between Tim and Stephanie to start things off.  “Boy Virgin” elicited one of those half cough-half laugh things that you instantly regret because you spend the next five minutes attempting in vain to clear your throat.  Still worth it though.  I also really enjoyed Tim confiding in Barbara… I know I say this a lot… but scenes like this really make me feel homesick for the pre-Didio-darkening DC Universe.

Stephanie seeking out her “options” felt a bit stilted to me.  I have always heard that Chuck Dixon has some pretty strong political leanings, though, as opposed to some of his fellow creators… doesn’t really leak them into his work.  Here though, I fell like he let it slip a bit.  The counselor at the clinic may as well have been drawn with a forked tail and horns.  I can’t outright say there aren’t counselors who speak like she does… and that perhaps make certain “suggestion(s)” to “girls in trouble”, but I would have preferred a bit more ambiguity here.  I would have liked it if Stephanie was presented with all of her options in a more balanced kind of way, allowing her to make an educated decision… rather than painting either side as good or bad.  I don’t think it’s comics’ place to say one way or another.

I did have some issues with the pacing… especially the flashback jump.  It wasn’t entirely clear that it was a flashback, at least to me, at the offset.  That might just be due to my reading these out of context… for all I know, this scene actually occurred earlier in the series and I just forgot about it.  Either way, this was the weaker part of the issue…

In checking out the letters page… which features the proper way to perform CPR… I found that the following month was going to be the tie-in to DC One Million with Robin #1,000,000… meaning that it would be two months before this story resumes.  Can’t help but feel this was a missed opportunity.  Stephanie revealing her pregnancy would have been a much stronger two-month long cliffhanger than what we get here.

Overall… perhaps not as strong an outing as last issue’s Date Night, but still a fun issue of Robin.  Definitely worth tracking down and checking out.  Like we discovered yesterday… this is all available over at DC Digital.

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