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Robin #74

Dixon (w), Woods (p), Delperdang (i)

The departure of Adrienne Roy from this title, I think, has had the largest impact on the way "Robin" looks. But the appointment of Pete Woods to the team has also been a factor. Take a peeksy at how dark "Nightwing" looks. Then check out "Batman". Now look at "Robin"--notice anything? Turns out that "Batman" is the lightest of all three of these books--and NW is the darkest--by a WIDE margin. "Gotham Knights" is a cross-hatching nightmare that's a bit darker than "Batman" while "Detective" has such a distinct look that we can only call it noir.

I think the added darkness to "Robin" has improved the storyline. Throughout NML and before, the title had been sinking into an almost lite comic state--sure it's supposed to be lighter than the rest of the books, but only in the past couple of years has it become almost a farce. If you compare the "Robin" of NML (where Mangles, Gearhead, and the Wolflings all combined to be one big comic effect) to the "Robin" of pre-Contagion and pre-Europe--man! Tim Drake was a lot more focused, the stories were more compelling, and it wasn't totally goofing off and rediclulous. Pete Woods is an excellent artist IMO--he's taken characters that Staz Johnson made very cartoony, and (w/ Delperdang's inks) has grounded them. Very heavy lines. My only problem w/ the art is the lack of expressions. I can't tell what the characters are feeling. Despite this, Wood's pencils and the darker coloring scheme, has put a little more oomph into "Robin."

You don't have to look too closely to see the changes. Tim is off to boarding school which is enough of a shake-up to warrent some interesting stories. But not everything's hunkey-doory. I disagree with Alfred staying full-time at Brentwood. Hopefully it's close enough by so that he can commute. I also think this Ali guy (the same guy from "Batman" #576 maybe?) is kind of dorky and over-the-top. We'll see. I pray that this series doesn't turn into those prep school nightmares that you see in movies, etc. Hopefully, it will turn into more of a background thing (like high school was for Tim) once he's figured out how to sneak around. All in all, #74 served its function--to set the readers (new and old) up for a new stage in Tim's life. If you follow continuity at all, you'd realize that Tim's getting pretty old. He really is a teen wonder--he turned 15 in "Robin" #1, and that was the beginning of Year 10 (according to the main timelines). Since NML was Year 11 (when Tim was 16) and this is Year 12, Tim should be pretty close to age 17 (if he already isn't). I respect that Woods is drawing Tim older (and he looks much older than his first appearance at age 13/14 in "Lonely Place of Dying)--but what does that mean for our pal Tim? Is he destined to remain at age 17 (the same age as Batgirl) forever? Maybe at least the next 5 years (our time). Heh. If nothing more, Tim's stay at Brentwood should prep us for the eventual move into college at Gotham U. And then what, is he going to change his name to Darkwing or something?

The JYD's grade: "Robin" #74--B

Robin #75

Dixon (w), Woods (p), Delperdang (i)

Even though this Brentwood Academy place is apparently right around the corner from Gotham, I can't help but feel that Tim is fighting crime in Mayville along with Opie, Andy, and the rest of the gang. I thought Dixon's story was excellent and the new setting is providing a lot of new challenges/plot devices for Tim, but the series has gotten so LIGHT lately! I guess that's OK... Tim's not such of a dark character as Bruce or even Nightwing, plus his cast of characters is always entertaining... So I shouldn't complain. Plus, I think Pete Woods is a very good artist--I think he could work on the dynamism to his layouts and the perspective (while they aren't "blah" so much, there is more room for action). I especially like how Woods drew Stephanie/Spoiler and also Tim's new look. Though I still liked it back when Tim had sideburns (around issue #20 or so).

The skateboard: who else thought one of this issue's influences was the "Tarzan" movie? Now we have a completely happenin' crimefighter who can do skateboard tricks down stairways, etc. I was pleased to see the few pages Dixon lent towards Tim learning skateboarding, the new love interest in this "Star" chick with the ugly hair, and--just to make sure things aren't all roses--the demerit Tim gets, the sleepiness he has to fight and the beat down by the "sk8tebratz". Overall, the story was good--but just good. It lacked the fire of other stories I've read--it was satisfactorily good (if that's even a category). A pleaser for a one-issue story--and at least it didn't have that goofy "1 of 1" logo the bat-books were sporting for a while post-"Legacy" until the editors realized that hardly any of the core books were 1 issue stories.

So, to wrap-up--I'm OK with the new direction, I like the art, I think the skateboard is kind of cheesy, but it's growing on me. And did anyone else NOT see Man-Bat showing up from a mile away? And with all his family members in tow... Sheesh. They're almost getting as bad as the Clayface people!

The straight dope: Robin's got a new direction which, while seeming like something out of 90210, has the possibility for a whole slew of cool (but lighthearted) stuff.

The JYD's grade: B+

Robin #77
Dixon (w), Woods (p), Delperdang (i)

Dixon and Woods' "Robin" series has put the comic back into comic books. Woods' style + Dixon's 90210-ish storyline makes "Robin" fun, but directed for a much younger audience than the other books (like "Nightwing" for isntance). Not that the stories revolving around Brentwood Academy aren't fun to read, but...this series is definately different Post-NML. Oh yeah, some completely random German assassin makes a 2 page appearance trying to capture the Man-Bat family and it concludes kind of all huggy snuggly.

JYD's grade: B+