Writer: Lee Bermejo
Artists: Rob Corona, Rob Haynes, and Khary Randolph
DC has definitely been on fire with the Batman line lately. With the success of the relaunches for Batgirl, Batman, and Robin: Son of Batman, it’s hard not to assume that there has to be a point where the quality will dip. As We Are Robin proves, there may not necessarily be something as too much of a good thing. Something that Grant Morrison examined at length throughout his run and that the current Batman regime has come to examine again is the mutability of the concepts of Batman and Robin. While people aren’t necessarily going to argue that Batman isn’t Bruce Wayne, what concepts such as Batman and Robin are can mean different things to different people, and what power those symbols can hold in the right hands, as We Are Robin shows, Robin can fight crime from a very different angle.
While it’s an undeniable fact of life, it’s not something that gets often talked about: every Robin with only one present-day exception has been white with jet black hair. Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne. While that’s not necessarily bad in and of itself, it’s hard not to notice that Batman and his partners share similar characteristics, which can take an ugly meaning in the context of 2015. Something that I’ve appreciated from Morrison and Snyder is introducing or reintroducing characters such as Batwing, Bluebird, El Gaucho, and now Lark among others to fill that gap. That last one is important, while Lark has been shown to be Batman’s future partner in a few stories, that present day idea of what to do with him has been important, having him as someone inspired by Batman but not in any way resembling the previous Robins is fantastic, and more importantly that different socioeconomic stature and race makes all the difference in his viewpoint that causes him to become a hero.
Lee Bermejo’s writing is a first for me and he does a fantastic job of giving Duke a unique viewpoint compared to the rest of the Bat-Family, as well as making him relatable and sympathetic. While he’s not impervious to mistakes, Duke means well, and as we also see he’s a strong kid. Bermejo communicates that expertly in his script, while we didn’t know much about Duke up till now, the information we know isn’t hampered by a need of knowledge from previous stories, we understand just how terrible it is to live in Gotham when you don’t have the money to live in a manor, or away from what was destroyed by people like the Joker or Bane, the idea of how Gotham citizens can choose to live in a city that’s constantly ravaged is answered: they simply have no choice but to stay. I also have to give props to the art team: Jorge Corona, and Rob Haynes give a great deal of style outside of any house style, which for a book like We Are Robin gives it definition and a unique feel that elevates the story.
All pontificating aside, you’re getting plenty of bang for your buck. A book that reads as awesome as it looks. While I hesitate to use the word gritty given the connotations it carries, in this case we have a book that is gritty but also doesn’t steer towards being cartoonishly dark. If you’re looking for a book that actually does give you a viewpoint in a more modern DC Universe, one that you can relate to, and one that has new and fantastic stories, We Are Robin is a great place to start.
5 out of 5 Robin Signals
Review by Slewo