Robin #14 (February, 1995)
“Troika, Part Four: Big City Bomber”
Writer – Chuck Dixon
Penciller – Tom Grummett
Inker – Ray Kryssing
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Letterer – Albert T. DeGuzman
Assistant Editor – Jordan B. Gorfinkel
Editor – Denny O’Neil
Cover Price: $2.50
Today we’re going to look at the return of Bruce Wayne as the one true Batman!
We open with Robin in a flaming lot, facing off with the KGBeast. The Beast is holding the teeniest tiniest nuclear bomb and is threatening to ‘splode Gotham City with it. In the background we can see that Harvey Bullock has been kayoed… and instead of being flanked by Renee Montoya, there’s this other officer there instead… who blasts the Beast in the gut…
… stunning him just long enough for Robin and Whatshisface to pull Bullock’s prone body to (relative) safety. As they haul the Bullock-meat, Robin can’t help but wonder where his partner is. Ya see, this is the story that saw Bruce Wayne return as the one true Batman after the events of Knightfall.
Bullock’s new partner introduces himself as MacKenzie Bock, and appears to have a little bit of medical training… which he is attempting, for whatever reason, to downplay. Robin leave Bock with Bullock, so he can face off with the Beast… who he has a sneaking suspicion is also waiting for Batman’s arrival.
Speaking of Batman, we join him as he is fighting off Romana Vrezhenski’s men who had broken into Lucius Fox’s home planning to do some pretty bad stuff to “capitalist pirate”.
Back in the city, Robin performs some CPR and mouth-to-mouth on Harvey Bullock… I wouldn’t wanna imagine how that might taste/smell. Not sure if I should go with stale cigarettes or stale donut frosting… maybe it’s like that smell when you open a bag of potato chips. Either way, I’d figure it isn’t terribly pleasant… but I guess that’s what separates heroes from ordinary folk.
Outside of the flaming lot we can see Commissioner Gordon, Renee Montoya, and Stan Kitch looking on. Kitch is, well kind of an ass. He’s not the biggest Bullock fan, and he doesn’t care who knows it. They watch as a man comes walking out of the flames. It is, of course, Bock.
We briefly check back in on Batman as he fights off Romana while she spouts off about capitalism s’more. Meanwhile, Robin’s CPR attempt proved successful, and resulted in Harvey starting to breathe again. Unfortunately, by now the KGBeast has found the Boy Wonder… and we’re back in the thick of it.
The Beast’s fist-spike-thing pierces a gas-line, which goes boom. Robin drapes himself over Harv’s prone bod to protect him from falling… flaming debris. As this is going down, Batman and Romana are still at it… he’s trying to suss out just where that teeny-tiny nuke might be.
The Beast makes another approach toward Robin… who for a brief moment, considers using Bullock’s gun in self-defense. He, of course, decides against it… and just goes to town with his normal Robinesque arsenal instead.
Then… Robin nyoinks that reticle-scope off of the KGBeast’s left-eye… only to discover that it was actually drilled into the baddie’s dome! Yuck. At this point, the Beast is all “screw it”, and tosses the cutest li’l nuke into the air. Luckily for everybody, Batman shows up just in the nick of time.
The next day, the Fox family returns home and finds their house in a state of… uh, repainted. Batman covered his tracks… and all signs of the fight before Lucius and the gang got home.
Back at the Batcave, Robin comments on Batman’s new-ish look. Ya see, Batman’s got more of a kevlar costume right now… actually, this comic has a gimmick cover, it’s kinda “puffed up” around Batman’s costume… so, it’s like we can “feel” the dimensions of it. Strange though, Robin’s still kickin’ it in his nylons.
We wrap up in Blackgate with another cameo of the Cluemaster. He promises to keep messing with Robin.
Such an odd story for the “big” return of Bruce Wayne. Though, I suppose if we were to look at Superman’s first heroic exploit following his return, it was equally “odd”. Not saying that KGBeast carrying the cutest li’l nuke in the world isn’t a big deal… but, I dunno… I guess I just expected a higher-profile baddie for Bruce’s first night out.
For such an important story for Batman… it’s also strange that he barely even appears. This is still very much Tim’s book, and Tim’s story… which is a good thing, if you ask me. I always hated it when books would be swept into crossovers, and the main hero/cast wound up taking a backseat to the “big draw” (ie. Batman, Wolverine). Of course, Batman does save the day… but, whattayagonnado?
We do get Robin saving Bullock’s life, which is cool. We also get him choosing against use of a gun when push came to shove. I mean, he could’a just grabbed Bullock’s piece and blew the Beast’s brains out… but, he didn’t! What he did do was (unwittingly) nyoink that nasty reticle thing out of his skull. Pretty gross little bit, but handled very well.
As mentioned during the synopsis, this issue has a gimmick cover. It’s… man, I can’t remember the exact term for it… is it “embossed”? Whatever it is, Batman’s costume is “puffed out”… denoting some minor visual changes to his look. His suit is now armored with kevlar… and looks a bit closer to the movie-look.
I suppose with everything he’d just gone through, it only makes sense to “armor up”. Gotta wonder why he’s still got Robin running about in a leotard though?
Overall… I thought Troika was pretty underwhelming overall, but this issue was a nice little showcase for Tim Drake… and finally gives us the “actual” return of the one true Batman. Definitely worth a look. It’s available digitally (though, without the puffy cover), it’s also been collected in Robin, Volume 5: War of the Dragons.