Robin #59 (December, 1998)
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
Sticking with the Dixon Robin stuffs for today… having had such a wonderful time revisiting it. I’m sadly of two minds about it… love it so much, but at the same time it makes me miss this era. No worries though, we’re not going All-Robin, All-the-Time…
We pick up right where we left off… Robin face to grizzled face with Steeljacket. Tim comments that the last time they tangled, he was lucky enough to have some police officers nearby to give him a hand… today, that is not the case. All he’s got is a pair of geeks behind glass, and they ain’t in any rush to lend a hand. Tim is able to flee (for the time being) and takes the opportunity to catch his breath.
We shift scenes to a touching discussion between Stephanie Brown and her mother. Steph is very apologetic about her current condition… and her mother is, almost surprisingly cool about the whole thing. Ya see, she blames herself for most of what’s gone wrong in her daughter’s life… and seems proud of how well she has turned out in spite of it all.
Back at the wreckage, Steeljacket resumes his attack on the Boy Wonder. They tussle until Robin is able to catch the creeper by the toe… and then snap his ankle! Dang. After this his school chums flee the scene.
Back at the Batcave, Robin marks the name “Steeljacket” off the bat-list of bat-villains who are still loose on the streets of Gotham following the quake. He asks Alfred for a bit of privacy so he may make a phone call. I love that there is a corded phone in the Batcave, by the way. He calls Steph, who shares the story about her chat with mom… then asks Tim for a favor. Well, judging from the cover, it’s gotta be a doozy, right? Are you ready? She asks Tim… to join her at her birthing classes! Dun dun dunnnn… I shouldn’t be too hard on it… this opens up a ton of comedic potential.
The following morning during gym class, Tim and his classmates are hoofin’ it on the track. Tim notices his goofy pals Ives and Philmont, ya know… the guys who were hiding from Steeljacket… he notices them trailing far behind the other boys. So he fakes a charlie horse so that he can allow them to catch up to him. Before they can chat, a pair of ne’er do well bullies start razzin’ them.
They demand Philmont join them for a walk in the woods. Rather than fight it, Phil slumps his shoulders and submissively obeys. Tim is about to intervene when Ives grabs him by the sleeve… he doesn’t think they should induce the bullies’ ire toward them. Tim, realizing he doesn’t want to blow his cover, agrees to hang back. This is going to be important.
Later on during fifth period, Tim is called to the Dean’s office. He sees Ives sitting in the lobby as well. Inside Mr. Blassingame’s office, Tim is told that Philmont was just found DEAD in the woods. Uh-oh… Now Tim’s mad. He spills the beans and gives the Dean the names of the pair of bullies… Josh Stanzland and Mark Meachum.
Outside in the hall, Ives is freaking out that he’d overheard Tim snitching on the bullies… thinking they’ll be next on their hit list. Tim, enraged, caves in a locker and tells Ives that their buddy didn’t just get beat up… he got killed.
Before we go in too deep I really wanna express my appreciation that this issue marks the end of the… horrendous mid-90’s glossy paper… I haven’t made a big deal out of it for the past two discussions, because… eh, I probably complain about that too much anyway. It does no favors to the art, and… if I’m being honest, is a pain in the butt to take photos of, and I’m glad that it’s gone for this issue. With that spoo out of the way, let’s get on to it…
Another very enjoyable issue here. As has become normal from this era of Robin… we get two very different story segments. There’s an action section, which is decent comic book action… and a far superior character section (very-special-episode-ness and all). We don’t quite get the scene depicted on the cover, but we do get some good Tim & Steph interaction here.
The bullying/murder story we get in the second half is pretty well taken. I appreciate the fact that, while Robin could easily wipe the track with these fools… he doesn’t. He needs to be Tim Drake while he’s at school… can’t afford to tip anyone off to his dual identity. Even better here… if he had beaten up the bullies, his friend would still be alive. This opens up so many storytelling options… we get to investigate Tim’s guilt while he investigates the murder.
Speaking of guilt… we get a nice chat between Stephanie and her mother. Steph is surprised that her mother is taking her pregnancy so well… Mom tells Stephanie that she blames herself for choices she made… She feels guilty… which makes Stephanie feel guilty… I’m seeing (or imagining) the theme of this issue.
Overall… Chuck Dixon’s Robin is still wholeheartedly recommended. So much fun, so much heart… just don’t say I didn’t warn ya… it makes a lot of what has come since look pretty weak. You’re gonna be homesick for some awesome 1990’s Bat-books. Like I said, this run is available digitally… (Don’t worry… not an affiliate link, nobody knows who I am).