“Robin War” #1 more-or-less spins directly out of the “We Are Robin” series, with other characters and titles getting pulled along for the ride. As it turns out, Tom King, Khary Randolph, Alain Mauricet, Jorge Corona and Andres Guinaldo are a good shift for this storyline. “Robin War” #1 feels like all of the potential from “We Are Robin” is finally starting to pay off.
“Robin War” #1 takes the core concept of numerous Robin cells — each the focus of numerous Robin wannabes — and takes it to the next level. We’re seeing a direct clash between Gotham’s government and the Robins, with the spark being a confrontation between a Robin, police officer and thief that goes accidentally and hideously wrong. It’s a reasonable and inevitable incident that would have happened sooner or later, a reminder from King that the best of intentions can’t always make up for training, and that not everyone is cut out to be a superhero. As tensions escalate and people start getting picked up by police for wearing the wrong colored shoes, the larger masterminds behind this crackdown on the Robins begins to reveal itself, even as Batman’s chosen Robins also begin to play their own hands.
King brings a deftness to his writing that makes me wish he was at least a co-writer on “We Are Robin.” The Robins here come out of the same core concept but everything feels much more fleshed out now. Duke is much more capable, for example, and brings a wit and ability that makes the character a strong protagonist once more, best shown when arrested for his red shoes. I also like his handling of the original Robins; Damian Wayne in particular is a voice that many writers have struggled with, but King brings just that right level of arrogance and smugness to make Damian memorable without being hard to swallow. Best of all, I like how the Robin movement feels like a growing tide under King; you can see how this is rapidly becoming unstoppable, even as you can also understand why Gotham’s higher ups want to stomp it out quickly.
The art in “Robin War” #1 is from four different pencillers, although all of them work off of Rob Haynes’ breakdowns, which brings some consistency. Mauricet is probably my favorite of them, with a smooth and enticing nature in his drawings of Councilwoman Noctua. There’s a sly grace to the way she comes across on the page, even as he brings danger to the moments unfolding across Gotham while she continues to eat her dinner opposite those panels. Corona brings the edgy art from “We Are Robin” to “Robin War,” and his pages with Duke escaping work in no small part because of how well that plunge into the water feels like we’re seeing it in motion. Randolph’s art brings an appropriate level of panic to the opening scene in particular, and Guinaldo (along with inks by Wong) gives Jason Todd’s scene at the bar a nice, seedy nature.
“Robin War” #1 is a strong opening for this one-month event, and it feels like the books drawn into it are all natural fits for the story. Even the one book that could have been very tangential (“Gotham Academy” #13) is given a reasonable method for getting tangled up with the war that’s breaking out, and it should be fun to see those characters getting involved. Hopefully, the rest of the storyline can keep up with the high standards set by this first chapter.