First appearance: The Mad Hatter, Killer Moth and Talia Al Ghul
Rise Of The Robin
Robin Year One is about the newly drafted in Robin’s First Year (captain obvious over here). It follows Batman and Robin as they struggle to take down crime within Gotham City whilst putting up with each other’s shit. It’s kinda like a teenage relationship. Both are really immature. Do stupid things, pretend they’re in a sitcom and also break someone’s legs to get them to talk……(yeah not that much like a teenage relationship in hindsight). I’ve absolutely loved the run so far and viewed the last two entries as being some of the strongest in the entire read through. They’ve left a tough act to follow so does this book measure up or does it drop the ball….even though Robin hasn’t dropped his? Read my review to find out.
From the off there is a totally different vibe and atmosphere to the book. Not only in it’s story telling but also it’s art. The work is very cartoony and animated. It has very clearly been done in the style of Year One but with a more basic feel to it. Whilst many people have had problems with this I actually see it as one of the book’s stronger aspects. It’s meant to be quite light, bright and cheerful and the art definitely helps to portray that aspect of the comic.
Bruce even smiles!
It finally happened.
….or maybe he was sneezing….we’ll never know 🙁
My Two Pennyworths
The story is told mainly from Alfred’s perspective which is a really welcome change. It’s nice to see the father of the Bat family drop his thoughts on it’s newest and oldest member. He has ups and downs throughout and often expresses feelings of remorse and guilt over letting Dick throw away his youth to be a crime fighter. However, like us, he wants what is best for Bruce and justifies the pairing as it makes the Dark Knight happy.
Alfred at points is sort of the condescending, disapproving adult that a teenager hates.
When dick rushes from a date at the sign of the bat signal we see Alfred cringe a bit and look disappointed. He just wants what is best for the boy and the art really highlights this.
Dick on the other hand brings a feeling of excitement to it all. They’ve nailed his teenage outlook and persona. What teen didn’t dream of being a superhero and Dick Grayson perfectly captures this.
As we are viewing sections of the book from the teen’s perspective we can relate as I’m sure you remember what it was like being that age. Wanting to take on the world and being stopped by an adult. Now being older and able to see it from both Alfred and Dick’s side it is a nice touch to the book that we often don’t get in comics that adds real depth to it. Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty have done a great job of fleshing this feeling out on the panels and it’s nice to get some diversity in the run.
Alfred is back to getting the best lines again. YESSSSS!!!! His comedic and sarcastic touch is one of my favourite characteristics of the books and it’s good to see it back in full swing. It has been missing from the last few chapters but it’s in full force here. It’s great that the spotlight is back on him. Welcome back old man.
That Old Hat
The plot kicks off when the Mad Hatter begins kidnapping girls, dressing them as Alice and selling them. It has a dark undertone of human trafficking but the jester lightens the feel a bit, taking away the severity. If you’ve read my Madness review then you know that I don’t like the Mad Hatter, at all. It’s the usual Alice plot and obviously the girl that Dick likes at school is the one who gets taken away. It’s breezed over quickly and doesn’t bare too much weight on the plot as it happens early on so it didn’t annoy me that much.
A comic book that feels comic booky?
What is great about this part of the run is just how comic booky it feels. They’ve moved away from trying to make a movie on paper and went for a classic pulp atmosphere that makes it a joy to read. A lot of the book is set in a school and you can tell from the art and story that they weren’t going for a grimy and gritty Batman, they wanted the fun one. Even things down to the clothes that people wear are an homage to the 50’s and 60’s. Mr Freeze’s costume is laughable and Dick’s jumper looks several decades old but there is a nice, campy feel to it that brightens the tone, warming us to Dick (trying not to make a dick joke).
I Love Dick (…..damn….I did it)
I view the early Batman and Robin relationship as kind of a Scrappy Doo, Scooby Doo sort of thing. Scrappy (Robin) runs off his own to fight people, trouble comes a long, more than he can handle and Batman shows up and takes down the villains. Whilst this would normally be annoying, it’s actually nice that the Caped Crusader actually has some stakes in a fight for once. These aren’t just nameless thugs (well they are) they are nameless thugs that could kill Robin at any second.
Like I said, for the early part of the book, it’s all fun and games. Robin gets shot at, comes out without a scrape, they laugh about it, rinse and repeat. This sort of thing is almost a commentary on the dexterity of Batman and a reason why he has lasted for over 75 years. The character can be as fun or as dark as the writer wishes. This is the first really fun book in the run and it adds a feeling of comedy and vitality that up until now was missing.
Batman And Robin
Batman and Robin begin as buddies, they trade stories about the Joker, call the supervillains with lame names ‘the super villains with lame names’ and generally seem like they’re having a laugh. Same laugh me and you used to have down the park when we were kids, miss you mate. Anyway it’s good to see that Bruce is no longer dire, he actually goes like, ten minutes without mentioning his dead parents. That’s a personal best!!!!
Two For One
Two Face’s appearance is great, we really get the duplicity of his character in this book and he is by far my favourite villain so far in the run. He stands head and shoulders above the rest. The dramatic tension he provides may be because he used to be an ally or simply because he’s so wicked. He notices that with the introduction of Robin that Batman now has someone that he clearly cares for…making that a weakness.
It’s nice that the adults (dunno why I’m calling them that, been reading about 14 year old boys for too long…don’t tell the police) I mean Gordon and Alfred question why Batman is working with a child. Like really, there’s not a good reason for him to endanger a child in his war on crime and he’s kinda stumped when it comes to answering it.
He states that Dick is his partner but soon after realises that Dick is just a child and asks him to stand down. Well, I say asks because he gives him a choice whether he wants to or not. It is nice to see the Robin/Kid getting shot at being addressed in the comics. This deconstruction really highlights just how crazy comic book storylines can be sometimes. When Robin says he doesn’t want to step down, Batman accepts it. It is a true partnership. With respect.
Judge Two Faces Plan
Dent’s appearance revolves around putting the Judge who Judged the Maroni trial (where he got acid hurled in his face) on trial. Dent’s plan is great, he traps Batman into thinking he is kidnapping and ambushes him and Robin. This adds to another level of deconstruction within the book. Dent is aware of his own crimes. It’s very meta.
The dramatic tone shifts when Dent almost beats Dick (beats his dick) with a baseball Bat (Batman) just to hurt The Dark Knight. It’s very reminiscent of Death In The Family and it almost ends the same, with Robin’s death. It’s a shame because it happens just as Alfred finally accepts that Dick is part of Bruce’s crusade, and he has improved his life. Dent makes the beating a lesson. He thinks Batman should work alone. He should be alone, like Dent is.
To me it is almost a jealous streak within Dent. He was almost Batman’s partner and when he failed, Batman replaced him. It must damage his already damaged ego seeing that a child can be Batman’s partner but he can’t.
Naturally the beating leads to a cliffhanger and it adds a lot of tension too the book. Within it’s initial chapters I did think the book was quite ‘kiddy’ but Dixon does a great job of balancing the light with the dark.
Batman Is A Bit Mental TBF
It’s good to see that when Robin gets almost beaten to death that Alfred pleas with Bruce to take him to a hospital. Bruce refuses and takes him to Leslie Thompkins….doubt he could afford the medical bill….it’s not like he’s a billionaire or anything. Leslie…also being an adult, too asks why he isn’t being taken to a hospital.
This is the first book that really highlight’s Batman’s insanity. You would have to be insane to do the things he does and it’s nice that people around him are beginning to question it.
Gordon states that Harvey Dent used to be a friend when interrogating Two Face. To me, the subtext within this is actually saying that he thinks Batman might be going the way of future enemy too.
With so many people being like ‘WTF?’ Batman questions the logic of having a Robin and removes him from his crime fighting crusade. It’s like he wants the best for Dick and knows that he isn’t invincible, no matter how much Dick thinks he is.
The Bat Breakup
Their split is almost like a break up. They always said that Batman and Robin had touches of homo eroticism in it, and whilst that’s not really the case, it still has touches of scorned friends who now hate each other but still have to live in the same house.
This Dick doesn’t give up.
He’s almost like a younger Bruce Wayne. Isolated, focused, driven, training by himself. We see Alfred looking on, it’s like watching history repeat itself seeing Dick in his dedicated solitude.
We see how independent he can be when he takes down Two Face’s gang himself using his smarts and speed. Dick runs away from the mansion and gets drafted into The League Of Assassins, much in the same way that Bruce was. To me, this Year One is a retelling of Bruce’s Year One but on the other side of the coin. The coin that is being flipped by Two Face.
It’s in this book I really realised that Batman’s a bit of a shitty person, he doesn’t care about Dick when he runs off. Whilst this side of his personality was exaggerated in All Star Batman & Robin by Frank Miller it’s just as sad here to see our hero have no compassion. He’s kinda like the dick (not Grayson) ex who’s a dick (again not Grayson) for the sake of it. I suppose Bruce trains ‘em rough to make ‘em tough. This is like the Spartan sending their child into the wilderness to kill a Wolf to see if they are tough enough to do it.
It’s when the league is tasked with killing Dent that we see the dick side of Dick too. He eventually gets a gun to Harvey’s head but tosses it away, he’s still the boy deep down that Batman trained that you and me love….not like that…he’s a boy god dammit.
“His name is robin he’s my partner”
After failing to kill Dent. The league want revenge and they turn on him. They beat his true name out of him. He’s been calling himself Fred, they never say “you’re dead Fred”…wasted opportunity. Anyway he tells them his name, Robin, not Dick, we’ve had enough of the Dick puns, he’s Robin. Batman shows up as he says it and confirms it. The Dynamic Duo are back. It’s a truly triumphant moment, the band are back together. Come on my son.
The Book ties up nicely with Batman, Robin, The League and Dent facing off together and it’s neatly ended.
I realise at the end that Batman isn’t raising a son, he’s training soldiers. Batman will always be alone, in his own mind. He wants people who take his orders, even if it means the death of himself. Alfred is the true father here but dick is a really welcome addition to the family.
The book is a really great read that’s a brilliant switch up in the canon. It’s tone is unmatched and it adds brilliant diversity to the canon thus far. Whilst the art may be a tad on the cartoony side, it fits the book brilliantly. I had a great time reading this segment of the run and whilst I used to dislike Robin, thinking of him as just getting in the way of a man who should be dark and brooding, after reading this I’m really glad that he’s part of the family now.
Overall I give the book an
Definitely worth your time.
If you’ve been following my reviews then you know that i’m ranking the books as I read them in what all the fans of me lovingly call ‘Rank As I Read’ or ‘Rank As You Read’…I don’t know, I can’t remember, you do though as you’re a proper fan.
So here is the leaderboard so far.
- Batman The Long Halloween
- Batman And The Monster Men
- Batman Dark Victory
- Batman: The Man Who Laughs
- Batman: Year One
- Batman: Venom
- Batman: Gothic
- Batman Snow
- Batman: Fears
- Batman: Prey
- Robin Year One
- Batman And The Mad Monk
- Batman: Shaman
- Catwoman When In Rome
- Batman: Madness
- Batman: Ghosts