Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: Bad to the Bone
Written by: Bill Willingham
Penciled by: Rick Mays
Inked by: Aaron Sowd
Colored by: Guy Major
Lettered by: Ken Lopez
Editor: Michael Wright
Publisher: DC Comics
Say it ain’t so, Bill. Say it ain’t so!
Robin was a very up-and-down beast under the writing hand of Jon Lewis. The pinnacle of his work was an eerie, horror story arc entitled â€œThe Wrong Townâ€ (which ran from issues 112-115). Following this strange, but near perfect story, things got really bad. Five issues of utter inanity as a matter of fact. Somehow I steeled myself to the taskâ€¦Bill Willingham (of Fables fame) would soon ride in to save the day. Let’s just say that I feel like a complete moron!
After two issues, under Willingham’s watch, I may be more disappointed then I was in the waning days of Lewis’ run. I mean, is it possible to take a bigger step back with a character? Does Bill Willingham even have an idea of what occurred over the last 120 issues of this comic prior to him joining on board? Does he have a clue as to how Robin has been characterized in the past?
New school, new friends, new toys, new bikeâ€¦
Last issue closed out with Robin put into a very bad way by Johnny Warren, a lame-o villain, who debuted last month. Robin deftly breaks out of this loser’s trap and while doing so talks about how cool he is the whole way through. Its like Robin has decided to become a really bad version of Spider-Man, but instead of quips he’s giving a blow-by-blow. The worst part was the gizmo that Robin uses which inadvertently blows off Johnny’s hand.
Johnny and Robin are fighting over a weapon stolen from S.T.A.R. Labs. During the course of this odyssey, even with the blown off hand, Johnny shows why he’s going to be Robin’s greatest villain (snort). He outsmarts Robin and makes off with the device. Everything about this sequence was utterly and totally out of character for Robin.
When Johnny gets home things actually get worse. We are treated to some of the worst scenes in recent comic historyâ€¦Johnny’s a momma’s boy. This stuff is such dreck, I don’t know what else can be said! The fact that this guy’s being brought in as a new arch-nemesis for Robin is ludicrous. Johnny Warren doesn’t warrant five pages of development, let alone the amount he’s been given thus far, and obviously will as the series progresses.
Mr. Willingham’s other â€œnewâ€ points don’t work out so well either. Tim’s new school and his new pal, Bernardo, are total washouts as well. Tim had a bunch of interesting supporting schoolmate cast members in the past, and this guy is nowhere near as exciting. Then of course there are the beginnings of a new romance for Tim. The way things are going it looks like Stephanie (Spoiler) Brown is going to thrown out on her ass as the Boy Wonder’s love interest. Yet another bad change.
This past summer I was at the Wizard World Con in Philadelphia, when DC announced that Willingham would be taking over the book. During a DCU panel Mr. Willingham mentioned that Robin would be getting a brand new bike. This seemed to be the only thing that he wanted to say about the book at the time, which I guess makes sense, considering how the book turned out. It’s not all that novel an idea, as for the majority of the book’s run Robin drove a Batmobile like car called the Redbird. Who really cares at this point?
It may be time to put this book to bedâ€¦for good!
Chuck Dixon wrote just about every solo Robin story up until issue #100 of this series. When it comes to Tim Drake, Chuck’s the man, and no one else has even come close. While Jon Lewis did some intermittently spectacular work, it’s really been all downhill since Mr. Dixon departed.
While Lewis’ work wasn’t all that great, I’ve never seen a character take such a huge step backward under a writer. Bill Willingham is an exceptionally talented man, Fables is one of the best books on the stands each and every month. Yet, Willingham’s take on Robin has been a complete and utter disappointment.
Editor Michael Wright has done a stupendous job maintaining a clear direction on Nightwing, another book that Chuck Dixon left, yet, for the most part, Robin has remained in a creative tailspin for nearly two years now. This is by far the worst Batman Family book on the shelves. I’ll give it one more month, but if things don’t drastically improve I’m not waiting around any longer for good stories.