Sunday, September 6, 2015

Review: WE ARE ROBIN #1


[This review originally appeared on Patreon.]

STORY: Lee Bermejo
ART: Jorge Corona; Khary Randolph (Epilogue)
COLORS: Trish Mulvihill; Emilio Lopez (Epilogue)
LETTERS: Tom Napolitano
COVER: Lee Bermejo
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (August 2015)

Rated “T” for Teen

Batman created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger; Robin created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson

“We are... Robin!”

The DC Comics character, Robin, is best known as Batman's sidekick/partner.  Robin's civilian identity, Dick Grayson, was Bruce Wayne's young ward.  Robin/Dick Grayson was originally created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson to serve as a junior counterpart to Batman and first appeared in Detective Comics #38 (cover date:  April 1940).  Eventually, Dick Grayson became a new superhero, Nightwing, and over the last 30 years, there have been other Robins.

As part of the “DCYou” event/publishing initiative, there are several aspiring teenage vigilantes in Gotham City taking the moniker, “Robin.”  The focus will be on Duke Thomas, an African-American teenager previously introduced in the Batman story arc, “Zero Year,” and who becomes part of the movement to fight crime in Gotham.  Duke and the other teens are the stars of the new comic book series, We Are... Robin.  It is written by Lee Bermejo; drawn by Jorge Corona, Rob Haynes, and Khary Randolph; colored by Trish Mulvihill and Emilio Lopez; and lettered by Tom Napolitano.

We Are... Robin #1 (“We are... Robin!”) opens with Duke Thomas on the receiving end of a schoolyard beat-down.  That means Dr. Leslie Thompkins will have to find the orphaned teen another foster home.  Duke doesn't want to sit around in another  foster home/dump.  He would rather discover the fate of his parents who were exposed to the “Joker toxin” (in the Batman story arc, “Endgame.”).  His search takes him underground where he finds trouble and also a group of admirers.

We Are... Robin #1 is not as well-composed as the first issue of the new series, Robin: Son of Batman, but I will give it a chance.  As someone who was once a Black child who wanted to be Robin in order to have adventures with Batman, I can certainly buy into the central conceit of We Are Robin.  I can also find myself becoming a huge Duke Thomas fan.

Lee Bermejo is an acclaimed comic book artist, but here, he is the writer.  However, he does provide the cover art for We Are... Robin #1, and it is a striking illustration, indeed.  However, Bermejo's drawing style is also strikingly different from the interior art, but I like the series artists; their styles seem as if they will work for We Are... Robin.

In some promotional information released for We Are... Robin, Bermejo said “We Are... Robin is a new approach to showcase diversity in the DC Universe for readers.”  Too bad someone can't showcase the diversity of DC Comics by showcasing the work of more African-American creators, especially writers.  For the time being, however, I can settle for more White women and Asian-American/Canadian creators because, in the DCYou, there is a Black kid trying to be Robin.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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