24 October 2010

“To the Batmobile! I Get Shotgun!”

This was an excellent month for Robin comics. The panel above comes from what might be the most enjoyable per length. Colleen Coover created it as a tribute to the Dynamic Duo and to editor Nate Cosby as he departed Marvel. Click on the panel above for the rest of the adventure.

Coover’s Dick Grayson is as cheerful and enthusiastic as any depiction ever, but not much of a detective. At the end of the night, he doesn’t even notice what Batman is up to with Catwoman. (In contrast, Robin was onto the Caped Crusader’s crush from “the Cat’s” very first appearance in 1940.)

Elsewhere in parody, the Black Cat finished an extended story called “Mr. Bat-Mom” (part 1 and part 2) about Batman discovering the joys of housekeeping, and his two eldest sons scheming to send him back to fighting crime. Jason plays an outsized role in these Batman and Sons parodies because the all-in-the-family stories need an antagonist to stir up conflict.

Tiny Titans, #33, was an all-Robin issue, with the central character (Dick, unnamed) confronted by preschool versions of Jason, Tim, Stephanie, Carrie, and a bunch of other toddlers in red, green, and yellow. He mopes in his carseat about the surfeit of Robins until Alfred hauls out the Nightwing costume so he can feel special again.

Usually in Titans stories the Robin is the Badass Normal whom everyone else admires, but in this magazine he’s the Charlie Brown figure, lovable but hapless, in love with a little red-haired girl. Consider, in contrast, how the Teen Titans TV Robin reacts to finding that all his teammates have been trying on his costume (season 4, “The Quest”).

In canonical comics, Superman/Batman, #77, allowed Damian Wayne to dig his fingers a little deeper into the DC Universe in a Halloween team-up with Supergirl. Apparently this Black Lanterns thing isn’t going away anytime soon. I ended up thinking about how Damian is the first Robin readers aren’t supposed to identify with—at least I hope not. We grown-ups are meant to just watch him and roll our eyes.

Bruce Wayne returned to modern Gotham City in one magazine (Batman and Robin), has already returned home in others (The Road Home), and is still missing in yet more (Return of Bruce Wayne). DC’s years-in-the-making saga of the original Batman’s exile in time ran into some temporal anomalies of its own as production schedules caused some issues to hit stores out of sequence. Of course, that matters little to those of us who wait for trades.

Speaking of which, DC published the Red Robin: Collision collection, completing Christopher Yost’s story about Tim Drake’s new role. I’ll review these paperbacks next month, but for now I’ll just say that not long ago comics fans had to wait through multiple issues of a magazine to enjoy a complete story. Now we have to wait through multiple volumes.

Finally, I know some weekly Robin visitors have already seen it, but this month I learned about this unused Tom Grummett illustration for Robin, #10, in which a timeslip throws Tim and young Dick together. Doesn’t that rooftop look reminiscent of where Carmine Infantino posed the original Dynamic Duo, as shown to the right? Over the years Tim, Speedy, Spoiler, and other characters have visited what looks like the same rooftop.

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