Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Robin II: The Joker's Wild #2 (1991) - "Tomorrow A Tragedy" Review

Writer: Chuck DixonArtists: Bob Smith, Tom Lyle, Adrienne Roy
Release Date: November 19, 1991
Cover Price: $1.00
Review by: Joey Casco

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The Joker has escaped Arkham Asylum while Batman is away and kidnapped computer genius Dr. Osgood Pellinger for his next nefarious plan. It’s Tim Drake’s first time alone in Gotham as Robin and he has just had his first encounter with the Joker, which also happened to be Joker’s first encounter with a Robin since he killed Jason Todd. Now Tim needs a way to make Joker believe that Batman is still in Gotham so he doesn’t end up like his predecessor.

This issue starts with Robin on patrol, confronting two kids around his age trying to break into a building. They're not scared because, by their logic, they outnumber him and they're bigger than him. But suddenly Batman appears on the building behind Robin and the kids run away. Meanwhile, the Joker has drugged Pellinger, turning him into a drooly mess that will do anything the Joker says.

The next day Tim is falling asleep in class when he's called upon to answer "what species of animal is the subject of the Russo-American pact of 1898?" Tim has no idea, but his buddy Ives starts imitating a seal behind the teacher (and looks like a total idiot), and Tim gets the answer right. Later in the cafeteria, Tim thanks Ives for saving his life and Ives takes interest in Tim's fancy lunch.

That night, a woman is dropped off by a taxi on a dark street. She's there for an open audition but she gets freaked out that nobody else is there, but it's too late to change her mind because the taxi is already driving away. She decides to go through with it and follows the "auditions -->" signs down an alley, into the backroom of a building, and onto a stage. There's mysterious man behind the stage lights. "All I require is that you scream," he says. She asks "What?", and he responds with "Let me hear you scream."

Back in the Batcave, Tim is trying to convince Alfred that they use the Batmobile to make it further convincing that Batman is still in Gotham. Alfred shuts him down while loading the holographic equipment into the back of the van, and suddenly the phone for the "shielded line" starts ringing, which could only be Bruce, but there is nothing but static. They head out and set up the equipment on top of a building, strategically chosen so they can project the holograph on half a dozen buildings around it. Tim's police scanner goes off. It's a "one nineteen", attempted suicide, and Robin swings away with a rope, leaving Alfred alone with the holographic equipment.

Heeeey! It's the lady from Joker's audition! Tim lands next to her and she runs away screaming.
Down below on the street, Joker and his henchmen, dressed as phone company employees, use the crowd of civilians and police to sneak into the phone company. He didn't expect Batman and Robin to show up so early, but he's glad they did to add to the distraction. One of the henchmen asks what they're doing, and he explains that this is phase one of his "technology-inspired madness". They're messing with the phone wires that will allow Pellinger to "turn this town upside down!"

Tim uses his wired Batarang to catch the falling damsel in distress on the ankle, which is a problem because she weighs more than him and she could pull him off the ledge. But he holds on by using his staff on part of the sign to hold on, making his arms feel like they'll pop out of their sockets, and he's able to slowly deliver her to the ground. I'm pretty sure her leg or ankle is broken, by the way. It has to be, right?
The Joker and his gang are done with telephone wires and, upon seeing the Batman holograph, he's feeling spontaneous. "Hand me something lethal, boys. I want to say howdy to old long ears!"

Tim hears the gunfire and hustles to the scene, knowing that he's going to have to confront Joker and hoping that he doesn't screw up. He drops down on Joker, kicking him in the back, and knocking him down. Tim tells him that it's over, and Joker finally sees that it isn't the Robin that he killed. This is a new Robin. Joker gets up, tries to spray Tim with acid, and attacks.

The cops show up just in time and Joker uses, what appears to be, the same gas from issue #1 to escape. Tim collects himself and leaves, badly beaten and bleeding, knowing that the suicide attempt was just a distraction set up by the Joker. But what did he do? And what will he do now that he knows that Robin is alone without a Batman?

Bits and Pieces
This features another great "performance" by the Joker, who really is the star of the story. But I think the thing that I actually like most about it is that Tim is legitimately scared. He thought he'd be okay without Batman but is now realizing that he might not be. Never mind the Joker; even kids aren't scared of him when he's all by himself. So we see a Robin who isn't so confident in himself right now, and a kid that is running out of gas. Even though this is a very good issue, at least in my opinion, it's up against the stiff competition of that great first issue. So I'm giving it a good rating, only half a point less than the first one.


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