We Are Robin #3

With bombs, mobs and the unmasking of the Nest, "We Are Robin" #3 amps up the excitement and intrigue -- but not necessarily the character development. This action-packed issue shows how the Robins work together to address a tense, escalating situation. However, though Lee Bermejo and Jorge Corona's teen vigilantes are still seriously entertaining, the series continues to fall short in presenting their motivations and personalities. "We Are Robin" has energy and attitude to spare but, for me to invest in the longer arc, I'll need to get to know the team better.

While Duke Thomas kicked off "We Are Robin" as the reader's lens into the team, he doesn't get enough page space to carry the series on his own. A team book rides on the strength of its ensemble, and Bermejo still needs to round out the expanding cast. The outlines of each character are starting to emerge, but I don't feel that I know any of them yet. Even the tragedy in this issue didn't hit home in more than the abstract. The reader didn't have time to know Troy well before the explosion, and so his (apparent?) demise didn't make a huge impact.

Still, Bermejo certainly injects his crew with energy and inquisitiveness, even if some of his attempts to make them sound youthful and "urban" occasionally fall flat. This is very much a group that's still figuring it out, and there's plenty of drama in watching them encourage, question and challenge each other. Their very realistic anxiety and doubt -- sweating, shaking, even vomiting as they try to disarm the bombs -- make their teamwork feel stronger and more essential. In their struggle, they read as teenagers who need -- rather than just like -- each other; the heroics only get done because they back each other up.

The jaunty angles and exaggerated shoulders in Corona's artwork give "We Are Robin" an energetic, defiant edge to its cartoonishness. He and Rob Haynes revel in the kicks and punches of hand-to-hand combat, and Corona clearly enjoys the drama of superhero posturing. The Robins are all billowing trenchcoats and shadowy hoodies, their costumes as much statement pieces as functional disguises. Unfortunately, sometimes the art gets a little sloppy in the larger scenes, but overall it's full of movement and panache. Corona even offers up some unexpected humor as the train repeatedly rumbles by.

Colorist Trish Mulvihill is generally quite effective. Her palette is the right mix of "gritty" and colorful, so that the book reads very much as urban warfare meets costumed heroes. However, she does make some odd choices in the tunnel. The characters repeatedly reference the poor lighting -- "Hard to tell with the cellphone light," "Still can't see" -- but Mulvihill gives these panels light, tan backgrounds. This disconnect between what I saw and what I read took me right out of the story.

All told, "We Are Robin" #3 shows that the series is beginning to coalesce. The concept definitely has legs, and I'm enjoying how the Robins work as a team. If I can just get to know them better as individuals, I'll be sure to stay with this series.

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