Review: Tim Drake: Robin #6

“Tim Drake: Robin” – Part Six
Writer: Meghan Fitzmartin
Artists: Riley Rossmo
Color Artist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Review by Steven Lee Sharpe

Tim Drake: Robin #6 keeps up the feeling that Tim’s finally taking the reins of the case, his identity and his life.

Robin is angry. Last issue saw the full reveal of the mysterious villain who’s been killing the locals and leaving cryptic clues. Moriarty (cheekily on the nose for a detective-themed comic?) uses alchemy to create monsters and is able to fully change his appearance at a molecular level. He’s looking to define/prove himself with a suitable adversary, he’s holding Bernard, Tim’s boyfriend, captive and is threatening to blow him up unless Tim accepts his proposal – and it’s safe to assume he’s not suggesting marriage.

After four issues of uncertainty and tail-chasing, Tim showed his mettle and ingenuity in the fifth chapter, by taking on and beating the strange apparition-like assailants who have been plaguing him throughout the series so far. He was finally able to take the fight to Moriarty, although he was underprepared due to not knowing who or what he was dealing with. This led to a stand-off, with Moriarty’s finger on the button that would ignite the bomb.

This issue’s about the battle between Robin and Moriarty. It starts of with visual flourish with Moriarty’s flowing white hair, as he swings a long white chord with a weight attached to one end. The malleability of his appearance seems to be due to a Clayface-type ability to remold his flesh, which makes his face look creepy as it distorts. Then he takes on the form of Batman.

Artist Riley Rossmo draws an interesting version of the Dark Knight, large and overbearing compared to the slender Tim Drake, even if the maniacal grin is a little too goofy to be threatening. This has been a trait of the series, whether through Rossmo’s cartoon-stylized art or Meghan Fitzmartin’s writing, to soften anything too dark or complex, as if the title’s aiming for a younger audience.

Of course, thematically it makes sense for Robin to be facing off against Batman. Much of Tim’s journey to discover his identity as a young man has always been affected by that first step out from the shadow of The Batman. So, much of fiction in general relates to the theme of finding oneself by leaving (or being forced to leave) the father/father figure. The superhero genre is a great forum for playing out metaphors and Fitzmartin isn’t going to let this one pass. Even the malleable monsters that Moriarty create are a metaphor for the place Tim finds himself in.

I used to dream about being Batman. That was the next step. But lately I’ve been dreaming of something new. A version of me that isn’t so structured.
– Tim Drake

To be himself, Tim realizes that the first step is to not be like Batman (so much for the adage that if you can’t be yourself, be Batman!), but don’t worry if this is all sounding pseudo-intellectual, just you’re getting easy with the idea that the metaphorical aspect of the face-off… Moriarty draws blood.

In my previous reviews for this title, I’ve picked on some instances of slightly muddled storytelling. I was glad for the recap at the beginning of Tim Drake: Robin # 6 because it made me realise that I wasn’t entirely on the same page as Robin, in terms of what he’d managed to figure out about the case – and that’s despite the fact that I’d reread the previous issue. For example, I wasn’t exactly sure what Moriarty’s proposal was – first it seemed to simply be Robin’s adversary, then it was to team up. Is he expecting Robin to suddenly turn bad? Maybe the intention is that after observing him for a while, Moriarty’s hoping to take advantage of Tim’s uncertainty about his world. Either that or he’s displaying Joker levels of psychosis.

On the whole I think this issue works well, mainly because our hero has been finally showing his wiles and skill. Rossmo’s art, for me, works more effectively in the scene-setting and flowing action sequences than the quiet dialogue moments, although it’s not helped that Fitzmartin’s writing a sweet, but broad and unnuanced relationship between Tim and Bernard. Overall there’s still plenty of promise in the series. There have been a few ideas that have been teased but not seen fruition – including the repeated mention of a new suit – but hopefully we’ll see them develop in future issues.

Conclusion

Tim Drake: Robin #6 brings to a conclusion the first story arc of Tim’s life away from Batman. Considering much is made of the detective element to the title, I’m not sure I really felt the satisfying click of the moment when all the pieces of a puzzle fell into place.

While the ingredients have been set up for an engaging world around him, for much of the time it felt as if Tim wasn’t up to the task, emotionally or intellectually. However, while I feel that his hesitancy and uncertainty over his new life has been overplayed, it’s nice to see him end the arc with more assurance and confidence.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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