Monday, February 29, 2016

Robin War #1 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

King tells a really well paced story here, taking his time to let the story unfurl on its own power.

We start with one of the teenage Robin imitators gloating over the fact that he's managed to disarm a guy in the process of holding up a liquor store.  When a cop appears on the scene, "Robin" tries to get the cop to see him as an ally.  The cop hesitates (since, after all, "Robin" is holding a gun), allowing the would-be thief time to steal his gun.  "Robin" panics and opens fire, killing the cop and the thief.

In the ensuing outrage, the City Council, under the leadership of Councilwoman Noctua, passes a law banning Robins and the wearing of any Robin-related paraphernalia.  This initiative results in a jack-booted crackdown, forcing Duke and his cohorts go to ground.  Noctua is revealed to be working on behalf of the Court of Owls, giving them the war that they apparently want (more on that later) so that she can become a member.  (She's apparently the daughter of a prostitute, and the Court is balking at giving her membership.  But, she has realized that they're the real power in Gotham, so she'll stop at nothing to get it.)  Duke gathers the Robins at one of Gotham's many abandoned warehouses and tells the anonymous perpetrator of the shooting that he has to reveal himself so that the Robins can win back their reputation.

At that moment, Damian arrives, telling the Robins to disperse.  It goes as well as you'd think it would go.  Damian takes on the Robins, and Noctua sends Batman to diffuse the situation.  (King really shines at this part of the story.  Noctua isn't portrayed as an overwhelmingly evil figure.  Jim complains about getting sent into the fray, since he disagrees with her "Robin Law."  But, she says that she wants him to do so specifically because he'd be gentle, since her other options wouldn't be as understanding.)  Damian is infuriated by the appearance of this new Batman, and he makes short work of Jim.  (During the fight, he hilariously talks about what Batman and Robin really mean.  Let's just say, he's clearly not impressed by the idea that it's currently a guy in a robot suit and a bunch of untrained kids.)  Jason and Tim arrive on the scene to try to calm down Damian, and they call in Dick to help handle the situation, hoping (likely correctly) that the other Robins will respond to him.

At this point, King really kicks up the drama, just when you think that the story is ending.  The Robin from the liquor store admits to Duke that he committed the crime, revealing that he was inspired after Dick saved him when he was a kid.  Duke convinces him to turn himself into the police, and he agrees to do so.  But, before he can, Talon kills him, under orders from the Court.  Moreover, we learn that they planned this situation to attract Dick -- the "Gray Son" -- to Gotham.  King hasn't told us exactly what the Court is planning (and why it wants Dick in Gotham), but it's clearly nothing good for our guys!

*** (three of five stars)

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