Last week, it was "Nightwing"; this week it's "Birds of Prey" and the longest-running of the Batman ancillary titles, "Robin." With the upcoming "Battle for the Cowl," Tim Drake's role as Robin is an unknown, with suspicions of Dick Grayson graduating to the Batman role and Bruce Wayne's son Damian taking over as Robin. This final issue addresses those concerns in an implicit way and firmly places Tim as a mainstay in Gotham City.
With the title "Robin Dies at Dawn," Fabian Nicieza purposefully recalls Grant Morrison's "Batman R.I.P." and builds from there, having Tim wrap up loose ends, confront his life without Batman, and struggle to find his true place in Gotham. This is a very reflective issue that not only reminds readers that, while Dick may be the heir apparent, Tim was Bruce's partner for several years and was closer to him. The burden of carrying on in his adoptive father's place weighs heavily on him.
Tim not only confronts the legacy of Batman, but also deals with his predecessor, Jason Todd, who he freed from prison as per Bruce's wishes. Their confrontation is uncomfortable as Tim clearly sees Jason as the failure, the prodigal son who can never really return to the family. Tim's parting words to Jason, "Just in case you were curious, the security codes will be changed after you're two steps out the door" are telling and reveal quite a bit.
The most important scene, though, is Tim's meeting with Lady Shiva, who has promised that Robin dies at dawn. The entire issue builds up to it as Tim is unsure if he'll walk away from their fight. The idea that Shiva challenges Tim in an effort to see if he's worthy of protecting Gotham is interesting, as is the resolution, which proves just how big an influence Bruce has had on Tim.
Freddie Williams II's art is serviceable and competent. One major problem is that Tim, Dick and Jason all have the same facial features, the same jaw line, and only their masks really differentiate them. This is especially problematic on one page where colorist Guy Major colors Tim's mask red like Jason's in a close-up. Otherwise, the art does the job well.
The issue also features an "Origins & Omens" back-up story that works with the lead story to solidify Tim's place as one of Bruce's heirs, while also dealing with Tim's dead mother and father. As far as editorially mandated back-ups go, it's about the best you can expect.
"Robin" may be over, but this issue clearly tells the readers that Tim Drake has a long and exciting future ahead of him in the Bat-books, and that he's definitely grown-up over the past 183 issues.