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DC Comics reveals 'Robins' #1 set for November 16

Comic Books

‘Robins’ #1 chirps the same old tune

Refreshing art saves a lackluster narrative and characterization in this new mini-series.

Earlier this year, DC Comics held an aptly-named Round Robin competition which saw fans vote on a comic pitch they’d like to see to fruition. The new six-issue mini-series Robins was the ultimate champion, beating out notable contenders like Suicide Squad Seven and Blue Beetle: Graduation Day. Robins #1 brings past and present Robins Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Stephanie Brown, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne together to discuss their shared experience as Batman’s sidekick, and if it was the right decision to make.

However, maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to bring them all together for Robins #1 because of this issue’s disappointing story and characterization. While the Robins reunion is a fun concept and their banter is amusing, their characterization pulls from outdated and out-of-character traits, pandering to surface-level ideas of the Robins (Jason as the angry criminal, Damian as the snarky brat etc.).

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A lot of this is seen in Robins #1’s painfully blatant exposition when the Robins finally all sit down together to hash out their pasts. Even if someone’s just jumping into these characters it’s a lot of info right off the bat (no pun intended), and also shoves the direction of their character arc right into the reader’s face rather than letting it play out over the series. However, letterer Steve Wands does a great job at arranging the speech bubbles to make this heavy dialogue as bearable as possible.

DC Preview: Robins #1

DC Comics

It’s also odd that a comic called Robins doesn’t include the leader of the group of rogue robins from the We Are Robin days, Duke Thomas. He didn’t serve under Batman when he was a Robin, but he did as the Signal. Though this Robin misplacement could be some sort of internal continuity issue, or Duke could appear later in the series. It is a miracle that Stephanie Brown is included based on how often only the four boys are considered as The Robins.

What saves Robins #1 from being completely disappointing is the art. Damian is colored a bit too light for someone who is mixed race (his coloring is a recurring issue in DC Comics). But other than the questionable skin tone, Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s coloring is nicely balanced. Fajardo plays off the vibrance of the Robin aesthetic with lighting and outfits but doesn’t overwhelm with saturation, and doesn’t rely too heavily on assigning each Robin an identifiable color when they’re out of uniform.

Baldemar Rivas’ art is a refreshing change from the edgier and darker styles that the Robins are often seen in. It carries smooth joviality that plays to the lightness the idea of a Robin is supposed to bring to a comic. The big action sequence in the first half of Robins #1 that sees the group team up to take down the Devotees of Anarchy plays to this lightness well with fun movement and dynamic angles.

DC Preview: Robins #1

DC Comics

The visual design of the main antagonist is interesting as it’s something both new and familiar to the known Robin aesthetic. But in terms of the character’s storyline — a sudden actual first Robin that nobody knew about — it feels tired. It seems more of a shock value plot hook to keep readers interested (similar to Teen Titans Academy’s Rex X) than something meaningful to the characters. I’ll give it, and the rest of the issue, the benefit of the doubt considering it’s the first one, but I’m not holding my breath considering the trajectory it’s on.

Of course, on the surface, Robins #1 is a fun look at a story that seems like a long time coming and if it’s taken at that value it’s enjoyable. But it seems the winner of a fan vote contest is bound to act as fan service that plays to surface-level character ideas and narratives. Maybe there was too much expectation leading up to its release, but Robins #1 is a disappointing start to the new mini-series with refreshing art and colors as its only saving grace.

DC Comics reveals 'Robins' #1 set for November 16
‘Robins’ #1 chirps the same old tune
Robins #1
Robins #1 is a disappointing start to the new mini-series, with refreshing art and colors as its only saving grace.
Reader Rating1 Vote
Refreshing, dynamic, Robin-like colors and art
Characterization is dated and exposition is too heavy and blatant
Main villain is more of a plot hook and isn’t super engaging right off the bat

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