Robin #131 Review

Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: Too Many Ghosts

Written by: Bill Willingham
Penciled by: Thomas Derenick
Inked by: Robert Campanella
Colored by: Guy Major
Lettered by: Pat Brosseau
Editor: Michael Wright
Publisher: DC Comics

The bad news is that we are still in the midst of War Games. The good news is that we are rounding the final corner. The further good news is that this issue of Robin is not half bad. The further bad news is that it is really difficult to care by this point.

I don’t tend to have issue with big Bat crossovers. In fact, more often than not, I really enjoy them. War Games, however, as truly tried my patience. This issue helped me realize a big reason for that: Black Mask. I hate his “voice” at least as it is imagined by Willingham.

He is too chatty, too “cutesy” psychotic, and far less then menacing. His biggest accomplishments to date in this whole mess has been to be to kill an unaware Orpheus and torture Spoiler for what must be about 80 issues by now. Besides that, he is simply the lucky recipient of someone else’s machinations. Every time he has the spotlight I am tempted to tear up the comic into little bits as it might “silence” his endless chatter. The fact that his battle royale with Spoiler this issue is essentially the same as their first go round (she’s beating him, but refusing to close the deal so he can brutally defeat her) does little to change this situation.

Thankfully, the rest of the issue is not nearly as interest deadening. Tim Drake is fully back in the saddle as Robin and is proving to be quite the crusader for justice. Oracle watches on, concerned that he may be overcompensating, while Batman cannot be bothered to even notice. Sure, he says he trusts Tim’s judgment, but what he is really saying is, “As long as Robin does what I need him to, I could really care less about his state of mind.”

The issue closes on a scene between Tim and his father that moves the whole book firmly into the “decent” category. On its own, it is the conversation that finally makes sense of why Papa Drake so easily stepped aside when Tim returned to the domino mask and cape, with that kind of heavy unsaid emotional context that all father and son heart-to-hearts are rich in. However, in light of the event of ID Crisis, it is lended a further emotional resonance.

Thomas Derenick, this month’s participant on the wheel of Robin artists does passable work. It is a welcome return to quality from last month’s efforts, but is all rather generic.

In the end, if it wasn’t for the spectre of Black Mask’s awfulness, I would have no true complaints.