This week: Dick Grayson turns 80, and the rest of the Robins help him celebrate in Robin: The 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular.
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.
Robin: The 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular
Cover Artists: Lee Weeks and Brad Anderson; Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair; Julian Totino Tedesco; Dustin Nguyen; Karre Andrews; Frank Miller and Alex Sinclair; Jim Cheung and Tomeu Morey; Derrick Chew; and Yasmine Putri
This is my absolute favorite of the DC Anniversary specials thus far, mostly because of my love for most of the characters to wear the “R”. Action Comics #1000 was fantastic, but there wasn’t a single story in Robin: The 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular that I didn’t enjoy.
Dick Grayson is special enough for me to have his 1980s Nightwing look tattooed on my arm. Tim Drake was the first character not named Superman that I followed on a regular basis. Stephanie Brown is one of my favorite characters of all time, no matter what identity she’s using. Jason? Eh, I could take or leave. Damian? Only good when paired with Dick or Jon. Still, that leaves a majority of Robins who I absolutely love.
Writer: Devin Grayson
Layouts: Dan Jurgens
Finishes: Norm Rapmund
Letterer: Troy Peteri
This was the least expected story in this book, as I never expected to see this iteration of the Titans ever again. Devin Grayson’s Titans run was where I first fell in love with several of my favorite characters. It provided me my love for Dick Grayson, for Donna Troy, for Roy Harper. It deepened my love for Wally West and introduced me to Kory Anders. Without Devin Grayson, I wouldn’t be the comics fan I am today.
Because of that, this story felt like coming home. We’ve gotten other iterations of this line-up, in the Judd Winick Titans series and more recently in the Rebirth Titans series, but none of those captured the same magic. This felt like it could have easily been slotted into her original time on the book. We didn’t get to see too much of the other characters, which is fine because it was a story focused on Nightwing’s leadership. But what we did see of them felt more like the characters I fell in love with twenty years ago. Gone was Outlaw Roy Harper, and back in his place was good dad Roy just trying his best and cracking jokes. Gone was mass murderer Wally, and back was Dick’s best friend. Gone was the warlike and infected Deathbringer, and in her place was the heart of the Titans.
Dan Jurgens was a wonderful choice for the art in this story, because he easily captures the looks of those characters in that time. My only nitpick on the art is that he gave Wally a straight belt. Other than that, every part of this story felt like it was written just for me.
Writer: Adam Beechen
Artist: Freddie E. Williams II
Colorist: Jeremy Colwell
Letterer: Rob Leigh
One of the best things about the Robin: 80th Anniversary special is that there’s a consistent effort to reunite creative teams from specific eras of the character. Each story has at least one creator who worked on that iteration of Robin, most of them have multiple. This story reunites Adam Beechen and Freddie E. Williams II on a Tim Drake era that is often ignored.
Beechen and Williams were the team starting immediately following Infinite Crisis, when Tim had been adopted by Bruce Wayne and was operating more independently. Much like Grayson’s Titans story, this one seems to fit perfectly with this era, a snapshot of a Tim Drake who excels at everything but seems to be lacking extracurriculars to get into a good school. We see snippets of how his actual activities could fit into the guidance counselor’s suggestions, and it provides a fun look at Tim’s dangerous life.
Writer: Amy Wolfram
Artist: Damion Scott
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Andworld Design
As unexpected as the Titans story was, and as overlooked as the One Year Later era of Tim Drake is; this story beats them both. Certain eras of Tim Drake as Robin don’t get the recognition of other eras, sure, but he had his own books for over two hundred issues, so he still gets the respect he deserves. Stephanie Brown’s tenure as the Girl Wonder, however, gets all but ignored and forgotten. I was very happy to see this story and was happy to talk to Amy Wolfram about it. It’s nice that none of the canon Robins got left out of this special, and even Carrie Kelly got a pin-up.
As for the rest of the stories, they were all very good as well. There’s a wonderful Marv Wolfman story about Dick Grayson right before he becomes Nightwing. They got Judd Winick to write another Red Hood story. There’s another Super Sons story from Tomasi and Jimenez. The only thing I wish this issue had that it doesn’t is a story from the Dick Grayson Batman years, with Damian as his Robin. That’s an era that’s still a gold standard for me, and I wish it’d been included.
- Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #9 gave me the absolute biggest laugh of the series so far, and that’s big praise since the series has been hilarious from beginning to end. The background gag in the first two pages had me doubled over, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it. Thanks Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber for providing well-needed levity in this trying time.
- I was really disappointed in Villains United: Hell Arisen #4. Mostly because like Scott Snyder’s Justice League finale, it felt like this series was nothing more than just a filler providing a lead-in to Death Metal. It didn’t feel like the series itself had any real consequences.
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