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The ’90s Revisited: Robin #1

90s_revisited

robin001Big Bad World

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Tom Lyle
Inker: Bob Smith
Letterer: Tim Harkins
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Editors: Dan Raspler, Denny O’Neil
Cover: Brian Bolland
Published by: DC Comcis
Cover Date: January 1991
Cover Price: $1.00

I’ve read this issue before. This might even be the third time I’ve read it–I’m not sure at this point. But for this particular read-through…it came about because I wanted the POSTER that was bound into the issue, without having to rummage through a bunch of unsorted longboxes–so I bought a copy just for the poster. But since I was "handling" the issue, I decided to read it…and quite enjoyed it overall, though unfortunately not quite as much as I’d thought I would.

I’m pretty sure this issue picks up essentially from the pages of a Batman issue, as I seem to recall a scene of Tim debuting the new costume before Bruce and Alfred; but that’s clearly already happened by the time this issue opens.

We open on Tim in the Batcave with Bruce; wearing the then-new (but now highly familiar to me) ’90s Robin costume–the red body, wide yellow belt, green pants, tall/dark boots…and the stylized "R"; as well as the two-colored cape: yellow on the inside, the classic yellow; but black on the outside, so he can wrap into it and blend into shadows same as Batman…not "glow in the dark" or such. The two discuss Tim’s readiness TO be the new Robin, in a bit of Tim’s doubt that I don’t quite remember, but fits for the time. Tim decides to further ready himself, now that he’s "passed" Batman’s training is to take his own journey to train with others in preparation for his role. He heads to Europe, where we quickly learn that another figure from Batman’s past is active: Shiva. Meanwhile, Tim finds the master he sought, though some details aren’t as he expected. He gets drawn into a situation that calls for what Robin can do, that Tim Drake can’t, and gains a potential ally, even as he considers what it’d mean to fail, to let down the Batman.

Which is all a grandiose, vague summary of the issue. It’s interesting to consider a number of "firsts" at the time this was released–first action in the new costume, first "solo" Tim Drake adventure, Tim’s first issue as Robin, first issue of any series–mini or otherwise–of the solo-billed Robin title, etc. And I’ll be doggonned if I am aware of any variant covers. Really! All these firsts…and other than (perhaps) a second printing or such, or maybe some kind of foil-y something or other that I’m not consciously aware of at present, this is THE issue. Period. One cover. One issue. A Brian Bolland image.

Story-wise, this is a very solid first issue. Though I mentioned recollection of a scene preceding this, that’s not integral to this issue. We simply pick up on Tim in costume, apparently freshly made officially Robin, and through dialogue get a bit more detail to fill in gaps on his background and our getting here. He’s given a ‘quest’, we’re introduced to threats and antagonists in addition to the self-set challenge, and get drawn into the story.

I said above I didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I would–it’s a good issue, and fairly enjoyable in and of itself; certainly nostalgic…especially for me. But that’s part of the problem. One of Tim’s first couple cameos before his full appearance in A Lonely Place of Dying was my first-ever Batman comic…this character was introduced AS I got into comics, and is still around. But this issue by itself–not re-reading the lead-up, not having the rest of the issues handy nor the time to read their contents in one of the TPBs, this is just a snippet of early-Tim Drake stuff. And since this isn’t an ongoing series but "merely" a finite five-issue story, there’s less "need" for the kind of hook an ongoing might need…and I think I frustrated myself not being able to just read the whole story handily in one go.

robin001_posterThe art is quite good, and rather iconic to me. Looking at this, it just screams "early Tim/Robin" to me. The cover isn’t horrible…but the way Robin’s face is, this has gotta be one of the creepiest-looking Robins I can think of! The costume, cape, etc work…but the face just doesn’t fit Tim. I also like that the "corner art" seems to be a carryover from what I recall offhand of the main Batman issues, cementing this as what it is–its own thing, starring Batman’s sidekick, but in a solo title that does NOT emphasize Batman.

If you find this in a bargain bin–or heck, find it for $2 or under, I highly recommend it! Particularly if you’re a fan of Robin, or specifically Tim Drake. But I’d recommend trying to acquire the entire 5-issue mini-series rather than just this isolated issue.

Unless you want the poster…in which case, that ALONE is worth at least a couple dollars!

robin001_blogtrailer

Zero Hour Revisited – L.E.G.I.O.N. ’94 #70

90srevisited_zerohour

legion_94_0070Down to Zero

Writer: Tennessee Peyer
Pencillers: Arnie Jorgensen, Derec Aucoin
Inker: James Pascoe
Colorist: Gene D’Angelo
Letterer: Gaspar
Asst. Editor: Peter Tomasi
Editor: Dan Raspler
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $2.50

This is yet another issue that I “missed” in 1994 and never have gotten around to reading until now in 2016…at least that I can recall. I had a slight sense of deja vu reading this and though I don’t remember reading it…it’s possible I paged through and read part of it somewhere along the way. (Or at the least, I must’ve read ABOUT it, being curious about how this series ended). I jumped on to R.E.B.E.L.S. ’94 with #0 and followed for a handful of issues, though right now I can’t even recall any of THAT.

LEGION (Licensed Extra-Governmental Interstellar Operatives Network) is not in good shape, apparently, as we begin this issue. The leader of the group–Vril Dox–laments the loss (or apparent loss) of several members of the team, as well as stuff perpetrated by his (apparently) infant son. His reminiscing is interrupted by coming across the freshly-murdered body of a man he’d murdered years ago, giving him pause. Meanwhile, the mother of his son chases after an apparent imposter impersonating Lady Qark (There’s a name I remember but don’t think I really knew appeared in this title post-COIE!); we also see another member with a time-travel buddy preparing to take her “back” to the future….and on learning recent events he freaks out, knowing only something HUGE happens, the details of which are lost to history but not its impact. Also meanwhile, Lobo and Borb arrive at Garv and Strata’s wedding…we eventually learn that Lobo expects a great party–the reception–so he’s none too pleased to have to stand quietly by for something mushy. Plotlines unfold, somewhat converge, and ultimately Dox loses LEGION–usurped by his son. And things will never be the same.

Unlike, say, Valor #23 that appears to be “just” another issue but ends that series, this is an extra-sized issue, basically double-sized…but not quite twice the price. In an age of standard DC comics being $1.50 with some titles at $1.95…this issue was “only” $2.50 with 40-some pages. And the extra pages do service to the story–allowing it to be longer, to involve more events, wrap some stuff up and set other things up for going forward, without requiring an extra issue. It’s like the two-hour series finale of a show that’s usually only got an hour.

While I’m aware OF many of these characters, I’m not all that familiar with them. I remember being loosely aware of this title, though it was well into its run before I learned of it…but it was that awareness that led to me particularly jumping into REBELS–that was a fresh start, a jumping-on point, a continuation of something with a bit of history, but that I could get in on from #1 (or #0, as the case was).

While undoubtedly cheesy by contemporary standards, the story does quite well, letting events unfold, characters move around, the status quo shifts…but there’s ALSO enough context for me to FIGURE OUT what’s going on even not having read any of the issues immediately prior. I was not–am not–all that impressed with the art, though characters that ought to be familiar are, and I was able to follow what was going on without having much problem.

The visuals just aren’t all that appealing to me…though perhaps a part of that is that this is [1.] not a typical superhero book and [2.] these characters are largely unfamiliar to me. I realize as well that visually, this puts me in mind of pre-Annihilation stuff with the Guardians of the Galaxy.

The issue is a solid enough read, but only tangentially tied to Zero Hour. Dox seeing the body from years before is presumably a result OF the Time-stuff going on; beyond that, this doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Zero Hour nor any expansion/development of the core story. If you’re reading LEGION stuff or REBELS, or trying to read every tie in (as I am) this would be worthwhile; otherwise, nothing much here for a random/casual reader.

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