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?