Robin #87 (2001)

Robin #87 (April, 2001)
“Secrets Revealed”
Writer – Chuck Dixon
Penciller – Pete Woods
Inker – Andrew Pepoy
Colorist – Noelle Giddings
Separations – Jamison
Letterer – Willie Schubert
Assistant Editor – Frank Berrios
Editor – Matt Idelson
Special Thanks – Esther Newlin
Cover Price: $2.25

Just as I was falling into a Titan-ic rut… my buddy Andrew tweeted out some great Chuck Dixon-era Robin comics he happened across.  So, I sez to myself, “self… you haven’t covered any Robin in far too long.”

And so, here we be!  Thanks for the inspiration, Andrew!

Tim Drake hasn’t made it home for the night… and Batman is a bit worried.  And so, we open with him visiting with Robin’s gal-pal, Stephanie Brown.  She’s kinda fangirling out… and it’s really rather endearing.  This is the kind of scene they try and do these days, and it just falls flat.  Here, I dig it.  Anyhoo, Steph… she thinks this is cool and all, but isn’t entirely clear on why Batman is gracing her with his presence.  Well, ya see… he needs her help.

Now just where could Tim be?  Well, he’s sleeping off a night of patrolling atop a building near his Brentwood Boarding School.  Ya see, things have been in a bit of upheaval in Gotham of late… in the recent “Officer Down” arc, Commissioner Gordon was shot… and ultimately retired.  Tim sits down to think on it… but falls asleep before long.

Back in the Batmobile, Batman and Steph head toward the Batcave.  In a cool bit, the windows go black… so Stephanie can’t tell where they’re headed.  Seems he’s not sure she’s ready to know everything just yet.

Back at Brentwood, Ben Stein calls roll.  Tim’s still sleeping, so he ain’t there.  A kid named Danny raises his hand to cover/inform the Teach that he “thinks” Tim might’ve had a family emergency.

Back at the Cave, Batman gives Spoiler the tiniest of tours around the facilities.  He tells her that he’s checked all of Robin’s regular “haunts”, save one.  One that he cannot go… and that’s where Stephanie comes in.

That night, after sleeping the entire day away, Robin wakes up… still atop that building.  From this vantage point he sees one of his Brentwood classmates running around the streets like he’s Superman.  Tim narrowly saves him from becoming street pizza.  Because, c’mon… it doesn’t look like that bus driver had any interest in pumping the brakes, does it?

Getting a closer look, Tim recognizes “Supermeth” as his classmate Tommy.  The kid begins to seize before passing out.  Tim does what he can before Emergency Services arrive.

Then… he goes back to his dorm, where he faces off with his nosy roommate Wesley the Weasel.  After telling ol’ Wes off, Tim calls into the hospital to check on Tommy.  Turns out, he didn’t make it.  Dead on arrival… brain hemorrhage.

Since Tim slept the entire day away, it looks like he’s gonna be up all night.  While he vegges out, he is visited by big-guy Buzz… who is happy to announce that not only did he receive a full-ride football scholarship… but that his father is once again talking to him.  Then… Alfred shows up!  Yep, after a sizable “falling out” with Master Bruce, Alfred is staying at Brentwood.  Tim shares his troubles with him.

Tim retires to his bedroom… and sees a bat-themed sticky-note on his window, and so… he suits up and heads to the roof.  He’s shocked that his “midnight caller” isn’t Batman… but Spoiler!  What’s more… she knows… everything.  Well, almost everything.

Tim freaks the eff out, and swings away.  Spoiler chases him through a park… and for whatever reason, past a pug?  Well, that’s random enough to capture for posterity, ain’t it?

Robin winds up running smack dab into Batman… who tells him that this was all his idea.  This doesn’t settle Tim’s teakettle, it just shows him where to focus all of his anger.  He lays into Batman for betraying his trust… for spilling the beans on his (Tim’s) secret identity… while continuing to play his own close to the vest.  He also calls him out on being too much of a coward to visit him in person… just because Alfred is there.

As Tim stomps away, Spoiler’s all “whoa…”.  Batman kinda shrugs it off… this kinda thing happens with every Robin.  Well, he isn’t wrong.  He even goes on to explain that “sometimes it ends well”.  Yeah, and other times… they get their skull caved in by the Joker.  Anyhoo, we wrap up with Batman telling Stephanie that she’s got a lotta work ahead of her.

Man, I miss this era of the Bat Books.  Not only is this a great “weird day in the life” story for Tim, it’s got some of that Bat-Family drama that you know I’m a sucker for.

This comes off the heels of “New Gotham”… at least that was what the trade paperback collections were branded as.  Not so long before this, Gotham was still in the midst of No-Man’s-Land… and stories like Officer Down really helped move things forward and build a new status-quo… at least for the interim.

Feels like Batman was being written in “chunks” back then… and, I really dug it.  We had this “chunk” coming out of No-Man’s-Land which would take us to the Bruce Wayne: Fugitive/Murderer “chunk” then to the War Games “chunk”.  A really inventive (though, perhaps not intentional) way to give many of these ongoing arcs a more-definitive “ending”.  Kind of like a “seasonal” approach without chucking the entire volume, continuity, numbering and all into the toilet any time it’s deemed convenient to do so.

Now, for this issue… Spoiler learns about Tim’s secret identity.  Kind of a jerk-move on Batman’s part, right?  Even Stephanie sorta calls him out on it… of course, he brushes it off with a “Pshh, that’s just the latest of my many betrayals”, but still… I think this was a big deal.

So much of the Steph/Tim dynamic was the fact that she didn’t know who he really was… and he wasn’t about to tell her.  It kinda kept her at “arm’s length”, and added an extra layer to their odd romance.  That all ends here… and, like I said… I feel like it’s a pretty big deal.

We have the “Brentwood Mysteries”… of sorts.  Tim recounts all of the weirdness… which, if I’m honest… doesn’t seem all that weird, but the fact that he recounts it the way he did, makes me feel like maybe I should think it is weird?  Who knows?  I can’t remember how this rolls out… but I’m always up for a mystery.  And a Boarding School is as good a setting for one as any!

Overall… this was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately it just makes me yearn for a time long gone.  The art here was fantastic… Woods and Pepoy were the perfect team for this book.  Definitely worth a read.  This one is available digitally.

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