There have been several reimaginings of the dynamic duo, Batman and Robin. These stories have not only expanded the universe of Gotham City but also evolved their relationship. However, most iterations have focused more on the tormented psyche of Batman than exploring Robin's formative years. To answer that prying question, DC Comics reunites the Eisner award-winning team of writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dustin Nguyen for a new 3-issue miniseries that explores the first Robin, Richard "Dick" Grayson's crime-fighting career.
Robin and Batman #1 revises the origin story of one of the brightest and fan-favorite Robins. Richard Grayson is a newly orphaned kid that Batman is training to become a crime fighter. During a mission, however, his arrogance puts his and Batman's life in danger. Batman is frustrated by Dick's actions, and the two have a bitter spat in the Batcave. Still shaken by the death of his parents, the circus acrobats Flying Graysons, the falling-out pushes Dick to don the colors of his parents and the nickname they gave him -- Robin.
Robin and Batman #1 is a character-driven story that focuses on Dick's journey to becoming a shining hero that shares Batman's quest for vengeance. The issue spotlights Robin and Batman's relationship as they grapple with their new relationship. Writer Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Essex County) is a master of crafting intricate, nuanced relationships, and the lack of trust between the titular duo creates a complex narrative. The story is told from Dick's perspective, and his first-person narration feels like you're reading his diary.
Artist Dustin Nguyen's watercolor art deftly captures the characters down to their bones. Nguyen also gives a grisly look to the criminal nightlife of Gotham City. Nguyen -- whose last collaboration with Lemire on the Descender comic book series won him two Eisner awards -- has more than a good grasp on Lemire's storytelling approach. Even though darker shades are predominant, the environments are well-lit, which provides a nice contrast between the characters and the backgrounds. Splotches of colors hide the pencil lines well and create the aesthetic of a coarse paper painting. Brighter shades come into play as the story progresses, bringing a vibrancy.
Robin and Batman #1 has copious amounts of drama, suspense, and action -- making it a compelling read from beginning to end. The titular characters are still a long way from their familiar camaraderie, and the tension between the protagonists in the early stages of their partnership introduces an intriguing team dynamic. With two more issues to go, it will be interesting to see where Dick Grayson's story goes from here. The first issue of Robin and Batman ends with the introduction of a recognizable character from Batman's rogues' gallery who appears to have a shared past with the Flying Graysons.
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