Tom King is blowing up in the comic book world this year. He started with co-writing Grayson, but now he has gone on to write critical darlings Omega Men and The Vision. He even has a new Vertigo mini-series out this week! However, Robin War is probably going to be one of his bigger titles this week, the first time he is ever going to be lead writer on a mini-event that will be going on in the Batman universe. How does he do for his first time writing such a story? Is it good?
Robin War #1 (DC Comics)
After a disastrous incident involving one of the Robins trying to stop a robbery, Gotham has decided it has had enough of the Robin movement and Robins in general. A city councilwoman has stepped up and decided to put a stop to this movement and banned anything Robin related, even going so far to have any kid brutally arrested if they are part of the movement. With all of this craziness going on, what will happen to all of these kids and teens? Also, who’s really pulling the strings in all of this?
As the beginning of a mini-event, the story is pretty good so far. The groundwork for the story laid down feels believable and the conflict is good. The Robin Movement, while having its heart in the right place, is still made of amateurs and teens with no experience in crime fighting. Then you add in the growing resentment and people questioning the movement, as seen in We Are Robin (plus the extra twist ruined by the cover), you can definitely see why the ban on Robin paraphernalia and police pushback against the Robins could result. Everything that was set into motion and building off the work in We Are Robin feels natural here and it gets you interested in seeing more. Plus, the result of the main Robins getting involved and stepping in feels right as well, as this movement gets bigger and more noticed. So far, the story seems like it is progressing just fine and it’ll be interesting to see what happens next (especially given the twist at the end).
Tom King’s writing is good, though with some iffy parts (I’ll get to that in a bit). Half of the characterization and good deal of the dialogue is decent. Duke, Damian, Tim, and a few others all feel on point and match their development and voice seen in the other books from beginning to end. Some may say Damian appears to be more abrasive than usual, but his attitude towards all of the changes in Gotham and the new Batman does seem right. The pacing and story transitions are solid. The story flows very well from scene to scene without incident and there’s no issue following the events. There’s never a dull or slow moment in the issue and scenes don’t feel like they drag on too long either.
The characterization and dialogue are kind of iffy. Some characterization feel a little off at times; for example, Riko seems more talkive in one scene, despite being rather quiet most of the time, while Jim Gordon’s attitude seems to change a lot in the book. The dialogue itself usually isn’t too bad most of the time (like Duke being a wise-ass to a cop or Damian reacting to the Robins), but when people start spouting “We Are Robin”, “I Am Robin”, or some kind of variation of it it sounds very forced and awkward. I can see the kids in the movement saying it as a battle cry or something, but most of the time it doesn’t work at all.
However, the biggest problem with the comic from beginning to end is the artwork. There are FIVE different artists and FOUR colorists all working on this one issue. There is also Rob Haynes providing the breakdowns for the comic, but to his credit, his layouts are good and everyone does a good job following his lead. That being said, so many cooks in the kitchen makes for a very inconsistent and ugly looking book. It would be one thing if each artist drew a different, separate scene from each other (like one guy drew scenes with Duke and another drew just the opening), but the artwork will shift abruptly during the middle of a scene to a new artist, and then sometimes the previous one or a different one the very next page. It’s terrible, leading to poor continuity in the art area (one scene changes the time of day from bright and sunny to the sun-setting and then back again). The saddest thing is that none of the artists, besides maybe one, are really all that bad, and their pages don’t look too bad. None of them mesh well together in the slightest.
Is It Good?
Robin War #1 is not a bad start to this mini-series. The story got off on the right foot, building off of the events in We Are Robin pretty well and setting the stage for what could be an exciting ride. While some characterization and dialogue is a bit off, the writing for the most part is good. The only thing that really hurts it is the artwork, which really doesn’t look good with so many people working on it. Overall though, if you are interested in this event and you already read most the comics that are a part of this storyline, give this a shot.