Thursday, 12 July 2018

Tag Team (Robin/Batgirl: Fresh Blood by Bill Willingham)

Tim/Robin: "Do you even know how many laws we broke tonight?"
Cass/Batgirl: "Ask me if I care." - Robin/Batgirl: Fresh Blood

Usually I review comics with a good points/bad points review format. I can't do that this time because there isn't really anything bad for me to say about it. Do you ever read something and like it, but not really feel blown away? That's how I feel about this. 

This is my first real look at Tim Drake as Robin. I found him kind of annoying in the one issue of his origin story that was included in Robin: The Teen Wonder, but I liked him a lot more here. Robin/Batgirl: Fresh Blood picks up just after Stephanie Brown's funeral. Tim has buried three loved ones in as many days, including his father and girlfriend, so he does what all Gotham vigilantes do when they're disillusioned with Batman: he runs off to Bludhaven. He also claims that he isn't going to become like Batman simply because everyone he knows and loves has started dying. That's...not really working out for him. He's self-aware about a lot of things - like the fact that violence shouldn't make him feel good - but he doesn't seem bothered that he's being pretty ruthless. He plants a small-time purse-snatcher in a big-time gang and justifies it by saying that the man chose that life. Oddly, he still manages to come across as quite a caring person: he's very bothered about Dick's current situation, and the first thing he does after him and Cass turn the tables on the bad guys is ask if she's okay. He also has a really dorky inner monologue at times. Oh, and he's apparently lawful good. Who wants to point out to him that he's an illegal vigilante?

It's also my introduction to Cassandra Cain as Batgirl. She's awesome. She's an ex-child assassin (Gotham appears to have almost as many of those as it does orphans) whose (supervillain) father never taught her to talk so that she would learn how to read people, and she's damned good at it. It's really cool to read. She can talk now (she's still learning), and she's also teaching herself to read. One of the books she tried was A Tale of Two Cities. Girl's nothing if not determined. Having had her whole life shaped by her father, she's now looking to Batman to be her driving influence. It's not until the end of this that she really thinks about finding her own way. I think the thing that makes Cass so interesting is that she's unique - I've never read a character like her before.

The plot's fairly simple. Robin moves to Bludhaven partly to get away from Batman and partly because he's chasing a lead that he hopes will absolve Nightwing of any guilt he has relating to Blockbuster's death. Batgirl is sent to Bludhaven partly to keep an eye on him and partly because its local superhero is AWOL after the aforementioned drama with Blockbuster. Together, they fight crime. Specifically, they fight Penguin. And each other. To the death. It's an interesting dynamic. Robin and Batgirl are very different, both in their skill sets and their ideals, so they complement each other. 

Have you ever read anything that gave you nothing bad to say, but wasn't a five star read?