Robin & Batman #3 – Jeff Lemire, Writer; Dustin Nguyen, Artist
Ray – 10/10
Ray: How many masterpieces can one man put out in a single year? Jeff Lemire seems determined to test that, and the conclusion of this origin miniseries firmly establishes this as one more. Lemire digs into the early years of Dick’s time as Robin in a way few writers have, showing Bruce’s growing pains as a parent, Alfred’s tension with his adopted son as they try to provide a home for the boy, and Dick’s own descent into darkness as he struggles with his trauma and the violence he has to deal out, as well as his trouble maintaining a normal life. Some of the scenes, such as him pushing a potential friend away because he’s worried about giving away his secret, pack some real emotion into them. But there’s a bigger plot here, with Killer Croc becoming obsessed with Robin and stalking Dick to his school to try to avenge an old grudge from Haly’s Circus—one that plays very well off Croc’s circus origins.
Croc has rarely been more terrifying than he is here, overcoming Batman with brute force and setting up a sadistic deathtrap to avenge his multigenerational grudge against Robin. But at the same time, Lemire manages to keep him sympathetic—this is someone who has been horribly mistreated, and is determined to deal it back out tenfold on the world. He’s a lot more compelling than most writers give him credit for, and few are able to keep that when writing him as a villain. Origin stories often get a bad rap because they’re covering material we’ve seen before, but this is one of the few that feels both familiar and genuinely new. It’s not just an origin for Dick as Robin, but for Batman as the Batman we know today. Before Robin came along, he was barely functioning as a person, and the decision to take on a son set him on the path he became best known for. It’s one of the best Bat-stories in a long time.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.