DC Comics’ winter event is in full swing with two instalments of Robin War out this week. Grayson #15 and Detective Comics #47 continue as parts 2 and 3 respectively.
Written by Tom King and Tim Seeley
Art by Mikel Janin
Robin War continues from a strong opening chapter with an equally strong second part by the always dependable Grayson team. With all Robin paraphernalia now considered illegal in Gotham City, the official Robins – Grayson, Red Robin, Red Hood, Robin – have taken it upon themselves to train the We Are Robin movement. By doing so, they intend to understand learn more about the kids in the We Are Robin movement, as well as to prepare them for the onslaught of the GCPD and the Court of Owls.
Tom King and Tim Seeley have consistently done incredible work on the title, though the book has only gotten stronger since Grayson returned to Gotham and interacted more with the Bat-family. The pair have shown again and again that they have a fundamental understanding of Dick Grayson, and they continue to impress here as they show more aspects to Grayson’s character: as a mentor and as an older brother. This crossover has afforded them the opportunity to explore the importance of sidekicks and what it means to be a Robin, especially by having all 4 Robins give their own take.
Mikel Janin has been one of the strongest finds for DC Comics; his style has only gotten stronger since his debut in Justice League Dark back in 2011, with his facial expressions being exponentially stronger, and his layouts vastly more interesting. His work here is especially dynamic, and he very capably differentiates the body language of the characters very well.
Even if it turns out that Robin War does not figure as a memorable crossover in the long run, it will at least have provided King and Seeley a perfect avenue to explore the importance of being a Robin (and the importance of sidekicks in general) and what it ultimately means to grow up from a mentor’s shadow.
Detective Comics #47
Written by Ray Fawkes
Art by Steve Pugh
Continuing almost immediately from the end of Grayson #15, Detective Comics #47 finds the Robins in a tricky situation as the Robins deal with the GCPD and Grayson has an encounter with Jim Gordon.
Ray Fawkes makes the most of his 22 pages, with a fairly dense issue. He does fantastic work with Gordon and Bullock’s conversation of how jailing kids just for wearing Robin paraphernalia is wrong, and delivers a great take on Damian Wayne. His subplot on Damian trying to escape prison is highly tense and very well-written, and stands as the strongest part of the issue.
Much weaker is the fight between Gordon and Grayson. At this point, pitting two heroes against each other only for them to team up in the end is highly contrived and cliched. While the circumstances leading up to the fight are understandable and Fawkes does an admirable job of trying to justify the fight, the fact that the two decide to work together in a relatively short period of time makes the issue feel more like filler than it should.
On the other hand, Steve Pugh at the very least delivers some fantastic work all throughout. As contrived as the fight is, it is wonderfully rendered under Pugh’s hand, with each blow really looking like it hurts. Not that he’s a slouch in the other aspects of the issue; Damian’s escape sequence wouldn’t be as tense if not for his art, nor would the emotional beats work without his deft hand. Pugh is an underrated master at his craft, and this issue cements his versatility.
While Detective Comics #47 isn’t as strong an instalment as either of the first two parts, it is a perfectly serviceable entry into the story with some great Gordon/Bullock interactions and some fantastic art.