Friday, September 28, 2012

Comic Book Reviews: Nightwing #0, Red Hood & The Outlaws #0, and Teen Titans

The first two legs of the Former Robin saga hit shelves this week, but before I get to that, I have some thoughts on the developments in Catwoman #0.

I only read this while I was in the store (why would I buy it?) and after I had read about the blasphemy in reviews.

I suppose that I should have picked up on it when Selina Kyle was so uncharacteristically emotional and crying constantly. But I was just so glad to see the prostitute backstory of Batman: Year One were finally being dropped from canon that I was willing to hope.

But there it was.

They went with the stupid origin from Batman Returns and that offensive beyond reason Catwoman movie. You know, the one where a girl lacking confidence gets thrown out a skyscraper window and cats form a mystic healing circle that brings her back to life as a badass treading the line between good and evil.

I thought this was nearly unanimous that Tim Burton's ideas for origins were stupid and should never be used. So WHY is the person in charge of the Catwoman book one of the few perverted minds of the world who thought that this piece of garbage should be canon?

There's no need to review it from here. That particular issue will only be liked if you enjoyed that particular origin story. The only other purchasers will be collectors and Linkara.

Anyway, on to reviews of the Robins!

Nightwing #0

The first Robin, Dick Grayson, has had his origin told many, many times, but this is the first time in a few decades, and the first of my lifetime. Actually, it was cool to see it live for the first time.

There are some nice connections in the arcs here - tying back to the first arc with Saiko, the second with the Zucco family, and the upcoming arc with Lady Shiva.

It was also nice to see the dynamic between Dick and his parents as well as why he calls himself Robin. This was by far my favorite of the four Robin backstories shown.

Interestingly, Dick is given tremendous computer skills in the beginning, which kind of takes away from Tim Drake, but he gets other skills played up to compensate.

WTF is with your faces?!
I do, however, have two issues with this book. The first is the artwork. There is one panel in particular where I think Dick's mother is supposed to be showing joy on her face (right after she gets her birthday present) and she looks terrified. The facial expressions were really bizarre, and that was the biggest offender.

The other is that Bruce and Dick knew immediately that their partnership was only temporary. It was played up as hugely important. But it leaves one major question: Why stop being Robin then?

Robin was already a way to break from being a Bat-Boy as it were, so it was his own image. Why did Dick feel the need to break from a tie to his parents with the Robin moniker in favor of Nightwing? It was something that really could have been touched on in the issue but wasn't.

Overall, though, this was a really good telling of the Dick Grayson origin and actually made me wish he was still the original Robin. Maybe we can get a miniseries of that partnership, or even an alternate Earth where the two are just starting out?

(Not All-Star Batman and Robin)

Red Hood and the Outlaws #0

Jason Todd has had the dubious honor of being the only Robin ever killed in battle. (Stephanie Brown almost did, but that's not even canon anymore.) He also unfortunately was the most irritating of the Robins in his tenure.

Even in the New Teen Titans, his brief cameos were uncharismatic. Until this book, Under the Hood was the only decent storyline with him, and it's only because I had an interest in seeing him as a protagonist that I even gave this book a shot to begin with.

Anyway, I was actually interested in the changes made to the origins of Jason in this one. The pre-crisis Todd's origin was pretty generic (as was the character), and the post-Crisis origin was a little nonsensical, specifically the part where he steals the wheels off the Batmobile.

This story, while deranged, made sense as to why Jason would have such issues in his life. And Jason's narration really captured the mood perfectly (even if it took me a few minutes to get into the groove of it).

Dr. Leslie Tompkins, as it turns out, was the one who brought Jason to Bruce's care, which I guess signals that she found him less abrasive when Dick was around. That said, this is a little illogical because Tompkins SHOULD realize that any kid in Bruce's care could wind up fighting crime like Dick did, and with his background, Jason would be inevitable.

But ultimately, the main story here was solid and I liked how Jason couldn't accept Bruce as a true father figure, but really wanted to, which added all the more to his rage when he was revived.

My biggest complaint with this book, though, is the backup story. It's not that this whole story being told from Joker's perspective isn't interesting. And it's not that a good story could not be made from it in the next few months.

What annoys me is that it makes the entire second Robin feel like a wasteful plot device, which showed some gaps in protectiveness from Batman. I won't go into it too deeply, but some great execution better be present to make up for this HUGE risk taken.

Overall, it's the best Jason Todd origin and worth checking out.

Teen Titans #0

Finally, we come to Tim Drake.

I haven't read the Teen Titans post-Flashpoint consistently, but given what I've seen, I'd say there's good reason for that: It sucks.

This story is told from Bruce Wayne's perspective, as we get a history of Tim Drake's time. And I will say that I am glad that Scott Lobdell wrote Tim's parents out of the story without killing them.

Being the great detective he's played up to be, Tim should be able to find them at any time and talk to them if need be, so that's good. And it undoes a plot point about Identity Crisis that should be long forgotten.

What irks me is that Tim doesn't really find out Batman's secret identity, as clues were planted WAY in advance by Alfred and Bruce. I have no idea why, and quite honestly it made Tim look less like the detective he was being hyped up as, and gave much of his major traits to Dick.

Honestly, I never was super into Tim as Robin. Dick Grayson was always the definitive Robin for me, but Tim at least had the strategy portion of the job down pat. Here, it seems like Tim is just a lesser version of Dick, and that is NOT a good selling point for the character.

Also, as to Tim turning down the traditional Robin suit in order to honor Jason: I like it, but then why keep any semblance of the Robin moniker at all? Why not call yourself Red Hawk or something?

It felt like there was a lot of good stuff here, but it was being dragged down by not being considered all the way through.

It's the best Teen Titans issue I've seen in a year, but it's the worst of the Robin stories.

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