Comic Review: Robin 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1 (DC Comics)

Well, time marches on, and this March, DC has a gift for us: Robin 80th Anniversary 100 Page Super Spectacular #1. Inside this 100 pager, there are several stories, each […]

Well, time marches on, and this March, DC has a gift for us: Robin 80th Anniversary 100 Page Super Spectacular #1.

Inside this 100 pager, there are several stories, each marking a different time for the Robin character, from Dick Grayson as Robin, then NightWing, NightWing with the Titans, Agent 37, and various Tim Drake stories. Then there is Stephanie Brown, the Super Sons and everyone’s favourite malcontent, Damian Wayne.

It’s a lot, and to speak in general terms in order to summarize my thoughts for you, it’s a wildly varied ride. Without going into a description of each and every story, let me put it this way: these stories, ironically, remind me of Silver Age Spider-Man and Marvel comics. You see, Robin (in these stories) and his various gender identifications, Robin’s morphing into other characters, and so on, are consumed with unhappiness.

There is no cheerful Robin here, chirping along with Batman, happy as a lark, light as a feather. That’s old, dude. Like, 60 years ago old. Rather, we have the unhappy, pouting, rebellious Robin. A Robin who is not pleased with ‘few words’ Batman doing all the heavy lifting and making all the snarling commands. The Father-Knows-Best throwback, that male guardian and boss-around behaviour Batman guy. So low-key tired of him. Seriously.

It’s pouting, sneering Robin, adolescent-disobeying Robin, then hazy memory-loss NightWing, and then the assorted Robin-replacements. The surrogate Robins, who help, exasperate or vex Batman in the more recent years.

Stylistically, the stories have a very wide range of visuals. Having said that, there is only one story that might resemble a throwback to anywhere earlier than the 90s. Marv Wolfman and Tom Grummett pair up for ‘A Little Nudge’, with Scott Hanna on inks and Adriano Lucas on colours.

Otherwise, it’s ‘explosive action’, Spider-Man figure-twisting-sky-swinging action. Then, lots of Robin monologues, clenched teeth, pondering and pontificating. And more punching and swinging in from the skylight.

Highlights for me were the Damian Wayne story “Bat and Mouse” with Ramon Villalobos and Tamra Bonvillain on art, and Agent 37’s “The Lesson Plan”, with Tim Seeley and Tom King as writers, Mikel Janin on art and Jeromy Cox on colour. Good stories, loads of drama, some surprises and top-notch Robin adventure.

Winding up this big issue is a detailed history of Robin and the line of offshoots, new characters and so on. This was a really good addition to an 80th-anniversary collection. Personally, I would have preferred this material be placed at the beginning of the issue, to help educate new readers and those of us who have wandered away from the nest, missing all the previous ‘Robin hatchlings’.

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!