Sunday, February 3, 2019

Batman #416 (1988) Review

Writer: Jim Starlin
Artists: Jim Aparo, Mike DeCarlo, Adrienne Roy
Cover Price: $1.00
Release Date: January 31, 1988
Review by Joey Casco of

Ya know, my wife kinda gives me crap for collecting Batgirl and Supergirl since the beginning of Rebirth (and now recently Young Justice) specifically for our oldest daughter, who is now 8 years old. But what my wife doesn't get is this: I was 7 when my father bought this comic book for me that I'm about to review. I still have it after 31 years.

My daughter gets so excited when I buy her a new comic book. And even though she might not read it intently and doesn't really get into what's going on other than the action (again, she's 8), someday she could open up a box of them and be filled with the same joy and nostalgia that I have when I go back to the issues from when I was a kid. There's something special about this form of literature. It's a time capsule that captures the culture of a moment with its art, dialect, and message. And of course stimulates the olfactory from the stock and the ink.

Oh, by the way, this is when Dick Grayson and Jason Todd find out that each other exists.

The issue starts with Jason Todd as Robin getting caught in a mess at a cocaine processing lab and being saved by Nightwing.

But there's really nothing Nightwing can do because the shipment of raw material hasn't arrived yet so there's no evidence to take them down. After they leave the lab without a fight, Nightwing lays into Robin for blowing an operation he was watching and for acting like a rookie. As he walks away Nightwing tells Robin that he's going to have a talk with Bruce in the Batcave, and Robin wonders who this Nightwing guy is and how he knows Bruce is Batman.

Back in the Batcave, Bruce and Jason are lifting weights. I think this might be the only time I've seen Bruce in the gym getting that ridiculously impressive musculature. He explains to Jason that Nightwing is Dick Grayson, the first Robin. Jason is worried that Dick wants his old job back and Bruce assures him that is not the case. He goes off to put on his Batman suit, expecting that Dick will arrive soon to talk about what happened. And he does.

The two haven't even seen each other for eighteen months and it's a pretty heated reunion. Dick demands an explanation on why there's a new Robin, saying that he owes him one, and Batman tells him that he doesn't owe him anything. Oh but he does! And Dick runs down exactly why through narration and visual flashbacks. They fought crime together for six years but when Dick was shot by the Joker, Bruce told him that he was out as Robin. He could no longer put a child in danger like that. So Dick went to college but flunked out, ended up meeting a group of sidekicks called the Teen Titans, and eventually became their leader. Bruce does give a proud smile but Dick stays on the attack.

"The man who couldn't handle the responsibility of having a 19-year old partner suddenly decides it's all right to take on a sidekick. I think I have the right to know why."

Now it's Bruce's turn. He tells the story of how he found Jason trying to take the wheels from the Batmobile and how he later helped him with a case. Because of the kid's misguided anger and frustration, he felt obligated to take him in and channel those "self-destructive energies toward a more positive goal" as Robin. Dick doesn't buy it and calls him out. He wants the truth, and the truth comes out.

Dick leaves and later meets up with Jason on a rooftop. He brings Jason a gift; and it's his old Robin costume for when Jason grows big enough fit in it (SPOILER: he won't).

Then they team up to bust the shipment of cocaine the drug lab was waiting for in the beginning of the issue. It takes them two minutes to take out the bad guys. And Batman is watching.

"The two of them are flushed with the thrill of their well-earned victory. They don't think to look up. So they don't see me."

Bits and Pieces

"#$%@ Batman" isn't true to Dick's character? Oh no, it totally is. Here he is aggravated, aggressive, and done with Bruce's crap. The flow of the issue is great, too. Dick and Jason meet and clearly don't like each other, we get a recap of why Dick left and what happened after, a recap of Jason's backstory, a heartfelt revelation from Batman, and then Dick takes on the role of the big brother figure. Bruce's narration is well written and meaningful, and there's also perfectly placed silent moments between Dick and Bruce that add to the intensity of their discussion. An excellent issue that I truly enjoyed reading from start to finish.


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