When I first heard the news of there possibly being a black Robin to join Batman I thought I would react with joy at the thought that there might be a cool new sidekick to a legendary character like Batman and he might just be a black kid. Instead I was uneasily awaiting the influx of negative racial comments about how the "PC police" are attempting to destroy all our favorite white comic book characters in the name of diversity. Or how rich white guys adopting black orphans is totally unheard of and unrelatable, because Different Strokes has taught us nothing. While that did happen (a lot) DC managed to quell those arguments in the form of We Are Robin.
Spoiler Warning: We Are Robin 1-5 and some of Batman.
We Are Robin features Duke Thomas, the character from the picture above, I have to assume years before he would take on the role as the only Robin in the Futures End run of the comics. I haven't gotten to Futures End yet though so that is more of an inference I've gathered from some light research. I've just picked up We Are Robin #1 and thought it was pretty cool and decided to at least get through #5 before I talk about it. Some other details that need to be known about the current DC universe to better understand it is that apparently Damian Wayne is dead again, or he hasn't been revived yet or he's just somewhere else doing other stuff. I'm not sure, this New 52 multiverse is weirder than the old multiverse.
Bruce Wayne isn't Batman and might not remember he's Batman either, or even that he's Bruce Wayne. Commissioner Gordon has taken over and is now using an advanced exoskeleton and a gun. It's like War Machine and Robocop had a baby that really loves Batman which is pretty cool.
Now that we have that down I can get back to We Are Robin. So with the death of Damian Wayne, and the disappearance of the true Batman, there has been a void left in Gotham that can only be filled by a new Robin. It's been said that Batman needs a Robin. However, since Commissioner Batman isn't taking on any sidekicks, a group of kids, led by a mysterious character, decided to take the Robin legacy into their own hands. They're not sidekicks anymore.
The latest to join the group is none other than Duke Thomas, a teen who's lost (M.I.A. not confirmed dead) his parents to an attack when the Joker returned to Gotham. He is extremely dedicated to locating his parents and in his search he is found by the main team of Robin(s?). They are a group of youngsters who dress up in a mishmash of past Robin costumes, colors and their own original flair with the robin logo linking them all together. I say the main team because there seems to be the main team Robin who is led by shadowy figure #1 and the secondary team Robin who appear to be running solo and a lot less focused or organized than the main team but greatly seem to outnumber them. While Robin A is focusing on important knowledge based missions, Robin B seems to be focused on crowd control and body count.
I talk about Duke a lot because he seems to be the central character in all promotion and the first character you see due in part, I assume, to his possible future as Batman's right hand. The other Robins in Robin A are:
- Robina - Isabella "Izzy" Ortiz - dancer, kickboxing extraordinaire
- TheTroyWonder - Troy Walker - Whip smart and gallant Football player
- Dre-B-Robbin - Andre Cipriani - Rebel, boxer and..criminal science enthusiast?
- DaxAtax - Daxton "Dax" Chill - Mechanic
- R-iko - Riko Sheridan - Smart girl, performance anxiety but loves costumes.
I haven't figured out a whole lot of their individual personalities, as it takes time to build a world around new characters. I just wish they'd release them twice a month instead of once. I'm really digging this story so far but I really feel like it's taking a while to get off the ground. The most intimidating thing about comic books are continuity (required reading to understand), the sheer number of books, (52 different titles all with their own art styles), and the wait time. These comics release once a month so despite the fact that they don't cost much you still want to be wowed to hold you over for the rest of the month. Seasoned comic book readers can be held over by all the other comic titles they're reading but for newer readers, if you check out something because it looks interesting you're stuck with waiting a month.
I'm not saying pander to the new audience, I just mean it really should pop and make me really want to read more to find out what's going on. If I hadn't bought the first four at the same time I might not have continued with it. Still, getting to #3 will definitely help make a fan. It's daring but also has it's confusing points when Robin B comes in. The team gets slapped in the face with cold hard truth and it shakes them and their resolve up a bit. It's going to take a few comics to allow each member of Robin to really get their story out there but I think if the comic can hang in there that long it may end up being one of my favorite reads.
I know it sounds unusual but I'd really like for it to stay separate from some of the other Bat-family stories. No need to meet up with Grayson or Red Hood, though the occasional Batgirl or Red Robin meet up would be cool. I say those two because they still have hope and optimism to them despite any tough times they may have encountered. Nightwing may be fun too if she (Nightwing is a she now by the way) can offer any good advice or maybe upgrade their tech some. I know they're running this current gambit with Commissioner Batman about him not accepting them as heroes but I'd like for them to decide to do it without his permission or support and go their own route without him in the story. If anything I'd prefer him to be another antagonist or obstacle than a key part of the story. They're doing pretty well right now though with a secret antagonist in the background pulling the strings.
The artwork is pretty solid and only differs in style in #4, which I think was a special case more than anything. The art style of #4 felt very reminiscent of Daniel Clowes' The Death Ray, but that might just be a usual style of older comic books. I think I saw an older Spider-Man comic with the same style. Hopefully over time I'll be able to learn the subtle and not so subtle differences in style for each illustrator.
If I was hard pressed to rate We Are Robin, so far I'd give it a 3.5/5. It didn't wow me but I was definitely interested in following the adventures of this ragtag group of Robin.