Review: Tim Drake: Robin #9

“Tim Drake: Robin” – Part Nine
Writer: Meghan Fitzmartin
Artist: Nikola Čižmešija
Color Artist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Josh Reed
Review by Steven Lee Sharpe

Tim Drake: Robin #9 sees Tim separated from his companions until he’s once again left to confront things by himself, leading to a nicely executed cliffhanger.

Completing the Circle

With the sad news that this series will come to a close with the tenth issue, this second story arc suddenly has a heightened sense of importance. Fittingly, writer Meghan Fitzmartin is taking us back to where she picked up the reigns of Tim Drake’s adventures, way back in Batman: Urban Legends (2021).

These tales showed the beginning of big changes in Tim’s life which led to him recognizing new aspects to his sexuality, sharing his feelings for his friend Bernard Dowd, and moving away from Batman to live in a boat moored at Gotham’s harbor. They also introduced the Chaos Monster who was behind the case of missing teenagers and the one who kidnapped Bernard. As he was being brainwashed, Robin rescued his friend, but there have always been traces of doubt about whether there were any repercussions on him psychologically.

In the previous issue, Batwoman dropped out of the sky onto Tim’s boat with blood on her gloves and no memory of the previous month, despite the fact that Tim had spent time with her on a few occasions since (most recently in issue #5 of this series when she helped in the search for Bernard).

On the way to reporting to the GCPD Batwoman, Robin and his sidekick Sparrow (Darcy Thomas) came across Chaos Monsters rampaging through a part of Gotham. The issue ended on a tense note with Batwoman captive and accused of being a child killer, Sparrow gravely wounded, and Tim caught in the middle.

The Hard-Nosed Detective

Thankfully, Tim Drake: Robin #9 picks up at the moment we last left the story. We’re given a great opening page, drawn by Nikola Čižmešija, with nicely constructed panels and a lightning bolt brilliantly picked out by color artist Lee Loughridge against the purples of the night. However, by the second page, while events still maintain the reasons for the high drama and tension, they do so in a way that makes Robin seem rather callous, or at least misguided.

While Batwoman has a villain’s hand to her throat, Sparrow is bleeding to death from a knife wound. We’re shown a panel of Detective Williams trying to keep her alive. Tim’s response?

As for Sparrow and the Chaos Monsters, Detective Williams is on the scene. He’s got the needs of the many handled.

Is it me or does that sound flippant? To make matters worse, Tim doesn’t check up on his friend the next day. Unfortunately, we’re shown a scene where a harbor local inadvertently reminds Tim about the importance of checking up on your friends. Again, Tim’s response is to think of Batwoman, who he seeks out. Either Fitzmartin’s writing a story where eventually he realizes that he’s dropped the ball when it comes to Darcy and he’s in for a big guilt trip, or there’s a lack of awareness about how this is coming across – either way, our protagonist isn’t coming out of this very well at the moment.

Also not coming out of the issue well, although clearly intentionally from the writer, are Bernard and Batwoman. Whereas previous issues have shown Bernard to be good-natured and supportive, perhaps because of his run-in with his parents in issue #7 he’s now angry, taking out his aggression on a punching bag. It doesn’t help his spikey mood that Robin and Batwoman arrive to ask him questions about the touchy subject of his time at the hands of the Chaos Monster – they leave with harsh words ringing in their ears.

After appearing shocked and a little traumatized at losing the last few weeks of her life, Kate Kane’s been getting more impatient for answers making her short-tempered and unnecessarily mean. Before abandoning Tim, she tells him:

Trust me kid. Partners like Bernard? They’re a dime a dozen. You think you deserve him? You think you’ll be happy together? That’s not the case for people like us.

Ouch.

It All Comes Together

As with the previous issue, Čižmešija provides some punchy storytelling, including panels that show Batwoman falling back through the window and Robin using his grappling gun to follow her. His rendering of Robin is easily my favorite of the series too – he looks cool and charismatic, whether he’s striking an action pose or in a comically heightened moment of surprise.

Aside from that, I do like the way Fitzmartin has crafted an issue that, by the end of it, Robin is all on his lonesome. It leads to a skilfully realized final few pages, both in the writing and art, making them, and in particular the final page all the more dramatic.

Conclusion

With this being the build-up to the final issue, I was expecting Tim Drake: Robin #9 to have a little more plot and a little less character confrontation. However, while we don’t get any more clues to this intriguing puzzle, those relationship complications have led to raised stakes. Let’s see how Tim gets out of this one.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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