Written by: James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
Art by: Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea, Tomeu Morey and Tom Napolitano
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 7, 2015
I have been looking forward to this book since Batman: Eternal ended. Actually, that may be a bit of an exaggeration since by the end of Eternal, I was suffering from a bit of weekly book fatigue. However, once DC announced that the next book to hit shelves each and every week was going to feature Dick Grayson and the rest of the Robins, THEN I couldn't wait. Well, the wait is over and I am digging in and getting ready for the next six months with high hopes that this book will enthral, surprise and excite me every step of the way. I'm asking for a lot, but a man can dream, right? So, did this first issue do all that or am I all ready kicking myself for demanding to review it? Let's find out...
The issue starts off with a flashback to a very familiar scene to Batman (and most comic) fans, but picked up and deposited in Cairo, Egypt. It's very quick, but really makes you sit up and take notice right away. We continue back in Gotham where a young Dick Grayson/Robin and Batman are heading home after a mission. While the first part is definitely the bigger deal to the narrative, I can never get enough of seeing Dick as Robin. Since the New 52, we haven't got enough of it and even when we get a little, the issues of timing and continuity often seem off. Not to sound like Goldilocks, but this feels just right.
We then travel to the present and it must be my birthday because this book suddenly became a dream come true. We here at Weird Science have been begging for a "Robins" book and the next scene is about as close as you can ever get. Dick, Jason Todd and Tim Drake are in pursuit of some villain and it's fine that he is lifted right from generic villain 101 because it's all about the Robins and their interaction. The dialogue is snappy and the action is great. I'm going to repeat myself here...this feels just right. It ends with Dick parting ways to get back to Spyral stuff, but not before making me want so much more of these three...and a certain pumpkin headed little boy.
The book then travels off to the Narrows and while it first appears to be a reminder that there is indeed a Robot Batman in town, it is also a reminder that another character is alive and well. Harper Row is in the House! If you're like me, you've been wondering what Harper has been up to, especially with all the Batman's dead business going on. Unfortunately, I have mixed feelings about the answer. I love that Harper has been keeping on keeping on with her dreams of sidekickdom, but dealing with Gordon here, she comes off as a delusional brat. When she says she knows she won't get "anything I had coming to me", it didn't feel like the Harper I fell in love with. The scene ends with classic Harper, however, when she freezes Robot Batman with just a whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you?
While this is going on, Grayson is still in Gotham doing some top secret Spyral stuff, which involves attending a grand opening of the Tower of Enlightenment at the Gotham State University. It triggers a brief flashback (there are a bunch of those this issue) showing the Dynamic Duo's first encounter with the Scarecrow. It's typical Scarecrow, but gets really scary when we get back to the present and Dick is attacked by a bunch of Children of the Corn rejects. It's a crazy out-of-leftfield scene that drops a couple of names in the reader's lap..."Orphen" and "Mother". As Dick uses the nearest window as an exit, I was left wondering if this was even real and what the hell was going on. That feeling didn't end when Dick's partner, Poppy, continues the insanity. The action continues as Dick is on the run and is attacked by a mysterious young girl. Fans are sure to go nuts for her, but for now, she just slips Dick a usb stick and disappears.
Back in the Narrows, Harper has come home to her brother, Cullen, and at least he's talking some sense. While he can't seem to tear himself away from his video game (kids these days!), he wants her to stop this whole crime fighting thing. I really liked the Spoiler name drop and hope we see her and Harper together soon, but that will have to wait a bit. Why? Because it seems that Harper is the key to all the craziness happening to Dick and some really bad people want her dead.
The issue ends with two huge cliffhangers. The first is revealed when Dick gets to the Batcave and plugs the usb stick in the Batcomputer. We may not find out a whole lot, but Batman (in holographic form) warns him about Mother and tells him not to trust nobody. The final cliffhanger takes us back to Cairo and shows that Batman wasn't just whistling Dixie. Seriously, the final page was a mind blower.
If a first issue is supposed to get you pumped up and wanting more then mission accomplished. Tynion and Snyder give the reader just enough to excite and intrigue. The best thing about this issue is that I already am coming up with crazy theories about what is going on. I mentioned that I didn't like Harper's characterization and that may be the only thing I didn't like in this entire issue.
That includes Tony Daniel's art which is great. Sure, it may not jive completely with all the character's other books, but as a cohesive whole here, I loved it. If I have to nit pick (which I don't, but love to anyway), the only part I found odd was Dick in the middle section at the Gallery..did he think he was going to a Clark Kent look alike contest?
Bits and Pieces:
While I was looking forward to this issue for a while, I was still afraid that I would be underwhelmed once it started. That did not happen, my friends. This issue was exciting, mysterious and intriguing. James Tynion and Scott Snyder set up a crazy mystery that I want to unravel immediately. Tony Daniel's art is superb and if the quality can get close to this for six months, we will have something really special on our hands. Highly Recommended.