Tim Drake: Robin #1 review

It’s funny, everything about this comic screams ‘Young Adult’ but it’s about a guy having a midlife crisis. Tim Drake has packed in college, bought a houseboat, dumped his girlfriend and is experimenting with his sexuality. He may still be a teenager, but Tim’s always been mature for his years.

As we join him in Gotham’s Marina neighbourhood, Tim has a feeling he’s not alone.

As it turns out, he’s not, but it’s only date Bernard, an old school pal, ‘aving a larf – which doesn’t mean Tim isn’t being watched… Right now though, he can relax.

Soon we meet Tim’s neighbours.

And an old friend.

Two new friends are late for the party. Literally.

It’s time for the police to get some help from Robin and… Sparrow?

The rest of the issue sees Robin meet the murderer, or at least the murderer’s proxy, as he wrestles with an unusually literary-minded mystery.

The first thing that strikes me about the issue is the art. Like Riley Rossmo’s approach or not, you can’t deny the man has a signature style. I blow hot and cold – I like the feel of the pages, the texture, the boldness of the layouts… but I dislike some of the character work. In full figure, Robin, Bernard and Detective Williams look like they’re about to break out into a contemporary dance number. In close-up, Robin and Bernard look like the Peanut Brothers. Or balloons with features scrawled on them.

Elsewhere, Tim’s neck is drawn to make him look like a Ralph Disney tribute act.

I really like the vibe of the illustrations though, and the fact the supporting cast members have such varied, relatable body types. Murder victims Cam and Mère, whom we meet earlier in the issue, for example, are wonderful designs, so much so that seeing them leave the supporting cast so quickly is sad. Lee Loughridge’s colouring is perfectly sympathetic, as is Tom Napolitano’s art – editors Arianna Turturro and Jessica Berbey have assembled a well-matched team.

I love that writer Meghan Fitzmartin is looking to classic detective fiction for this storyline. The killings, and an earlier one in a recent Tim Drake special, nod to tales by Edgar Allen Poe and Mark Twain; the task then facing Tim is a little overcomplicated, but bless Fitzmartin for trying something different.

Fitzmartin does an excellent job of laying out the Teen Wonder’s current situation for those of us who haven’t followed Urban Legends. Tim is as likeable as ever, and Bernard’s slightly askew thoughts on Batman are endearing. I only read a couple of issues of We Are Robin, but Darcy looks to be a good addition to the book; I wouldn’t mind some clarification on her level of hearing, though… I’d assumed she is Deaf and reads lips, but at various points she’s responding to Tim when he’s not facing her.

Something else that’s a plus is that Fitzmartin leans into Tim’s status as the best detective among the Robins.

This is a strong first issue. It would benefit from being a little less tied to the recent Urban Legends run and Tim special, but helpful editor’s notes are provided. And while I’d love Tim and Bernard to be drawn less like products of Geppetto, I’ll likely get used to it while enjoying the overall cheery dynamism of the art.

I’d certainly rather see a cover by Rossmo than the illustration here by Ricardo López Ortiz; it’s not bad, but the mood is wrong. The guy Tim is fighting doesn’t appear in the issue – is he the mystery murderer, revealed too early? – and Tim looks too intense. I do like the new logo, which, if Twitter memory serves, is the work of designer Darran Robinson.

I’d love to know what other Tim Drake fans think of this first issue. It’s been years since he’s had an ongoing, was this worth the wait?

9 thoughts on “Tim Drake: Robin #1 review

  1. I’m new to Tim Drake fandom. He really came alive for me in James Tynion’s run on Detective Comics, and I’ve dug him ever since. Not enough to buy Urban Legends — despite my love of comics anthologies, that’s a ton of extraneous Bat-action I just don’t need — but I picked up the Tim Drake Pride special and enjoyed it. And I figured I’d pick up this issue and then just set the series down and wait for it to roll up on DCUI.

    But no! I understand your quibbles, and I have them too, to a certain extent — but I LOVE Riley Rossmo’s art. His strengths, like you note, are the layouts and the fluidity of the action. His faces can sometimes wind up a little goofy. But honestly, I barely even care about that. So much of superhero art has a sameness to it, that when someone as distinctive as Rossmo comes along, I’ve gotta hold tight. Like Keith Giffen’s experimental Legion work, it won’t be for everybody, but I think it’ll be looked upon kindly in the years to come. (I should check out his run on Harley Quinn!)

    The mystery itself is a little weird — how on earth could symbolically dealing with these animal apparitions according to their stories of origin actually defeat them? I hope there’s an answer for that.

    But all in all, I love Tim’s new milieu, am really interested in his new supporting cast (including Bernard, whose normalcy I treasure — he’s 1000% more likeable than Jay Nakamura), and am intrigued by an honest-to-goodness MYSTERY!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. James Tynion really wrote a great Tim. But yes, let’s give this version a go… he supposedly has the same past but he ‘reads’ a good few years young.

      One thing I’d like to see with Tim and Jon Kent is them actually being bisexual in the sense of at least noticing women as well as their boyfriends. They don’t have to be attracted to two people at once – that’s no more likely for bi folk as it is for straights, gays, whatevers – but it seems a wasted opportunity for them to meet a guy and it immediately be One True Whatever The Expression Is.


      1. I’m 100% on board with this. I’ve been happily married for 20 years, and *I* still notice people I’m attracted to, and so does my wife. And we tell each other, which is also fun!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Just adding one thing to walk back some of my snark about Bernard vs Jay: It’s not really fair to compare the two. For a Superman-style story, most characters have to be bigger than life, even the non-super-powered ones. Lois is The Best Reporter in the World. Bibbo is the World’s Roughest Bartender. Perry is basically professional ethics personified. A normal 20-something like Bernard wouldn’t fit with Jon; he couldn’t take part in Jon’s stories, and would simply fade from view. But Bernard is built for a more human scale, perfect for Tim’s adventures… and therefore more relatable and likeable.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I’m down with pink hair. I find that stuff adorable, and am incredibly jealous I went bald long before it was a mainstream fashion possibility. But good lord, the world’s acceptance of “The Truth” as a legitimate news source is less believable to me than walking through walls.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Finally got around to reading this. Stopped reading it on page two. Art means more to me when I have no history with either artist or writer. I hated the pencil necked bobble heads and in one panel I wondered who the girl was until I realized she was dressed like Tim. Tim Drake is my favorite Robin but not even that can get me to endure this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rossmo’s art is certainly an acquired taste, it’s not one I consistently have. I’d love a more traditional take on Tim in terms of, oh, I dunno, character, story and art.


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