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Review: Robin War #2

robin warWell, the war is over and, unfortunately, it did not exactly deliver the big ending I was hoping for following the end of Robin War #1. Granted, this issue had some cool moments and was an enjoyable read but, as a conclusion to the event, was not as satisfying as I would have liked.


Spoilers ahead…


The tease and then subsequent absence of Nightwing was a big disappointment for me. Despite Grayson’s future solicitations indicating his return to dealing with Spyral, it felt like this event could somehow bring back the fan-favorite character, even with his success in the Grayson series.


The other disappointment I had with the issue was the Court’s plot to threaten Damian with the release of “berserker” Talons. Even after agreeing to join them, they were still released on Gotham. Damian is always pretty smart about these things so it was just a confusing turn of events and a little uncharacteristic of him as he fought alongside the Talons. On a larger note, the final problem I had after reading the issue was still being confused by Dick’s actions to lock up the Robins in Grayson #15. Ultimately, they broke out and ended up in a street brawl with an army of Talons so it did not seem to do any good to try and imprison them while he solved the mystery behind the Robin Laws.


There are positives to take away from the conclusion to Robin War. King nails it when it comes to writing Dick Grayson. The dialogue is fun and entertaining but still carries weight when we get the intense scenes such as Grayson’s “sacrifice” to join the Court. This really showed his devotion to his family which has always been a key element to the character. Other moments like Damian refusing to shake Bat-Gordon’s hand as well as Duke befriending Damian shows that King was able to handle these characters on a larger scale and still give both funny and touching moments amidst bombastic action scenes.


As far as artwork is concerned, it had a “mash-up” of different artists that seemed to combine all the art elements of the different books crossed over into this event. My favorite artwork was found on the pages by McDaniel and Owens who delivered bold action and character/facial designs that conveyed emotion.


Ultimately, the scope for this event seemed too big to be wrapped up in a handful of issues. The creative team only had two months to wrap up a story that crossed multiple titles and dealt with a villain that even Bruce was never able to eradicate. Again, the issue itself was entertaining but just not a fitting finale for the event. I will admit the ending with Grayson joining the Court was a nice cliffhanger and has me excited to tune in to the Grayson series.


Synopsis: The final issue of Robin War opens with a member of the We Are Robin movement sitting at home watching television while saying the line “I’m not Robin”. We are next shown moments from past issues such as the Robin’s escape from the prison called “The Cage” as well the scene where the older Robins order the new Robins except for the core We Are Robin members to go home given the enemy is the Court of Owls.


Outside Gotham Academy, the Robins discover that Damian has become a member of the Court of Owls. Damian orders them all to stand down and that he has “fixed” the problem.


Underground, Grayson confronts Lincoln March who orchestrated the Robin Laws and the search for the next “Gray Son”. He explains that he offered the title to Damian when he threatened to turn an army of Elite Talons loose on Gotham if he refused.


Above ground, Damian puts down all the Robins with some assistance from accompanying Talons. Duke is the only one to get back up and to continue fighting.


Back in the Court’s lair, Lincoln produces the Nightwing mask and explains the connection between Nightwing and Owls. As Grayson starts to pummel Lincoln and tries to burn down the whole lair, Lincoln threatens to detonate a nanotech bomb inside Damian, that was transferred through his owl mask, if Dick does not accept their offer.


In the streets of Gotham, the police have surrounded the Robins who have gathered to battle the Talons. Damian is still fighting Duke when the Elite Talons show up and attack the GCPD. Duke is desperately trying to remind Damian who he is and why sacrificing himself like Bruce is not the answer. Just as a Talon is about to kill a We Are Robin member, Damian saves him and discards the owl mask. The whole Robin army, as well as Bat-Gordon, are now battling in the streets and eventually turn the tide against the Talon forces.


Later in the Batcave, the original Robins discuss Dick’s betrayal when he had them locked up. He defends his actions and his absence from the major fight by saying he collected the evidence to expose Councilwoman Noctua. Dick ends the scene by saying that they should help him because they all do this for Batman and each other.


In Gotham Cemetery, the core members of We Are Robin mourn the loss of Travis, the Robin involved in the liquor store incident which sparked the creation of the Robin Laws. Duke leaves the group saying “We’re not Robin”. He meets up with Damian later and, after some banter, goes with him to see a movie.


The issue concludes with The Parliament of Owls welcoming Dick, as he places an owl mask on his face, into their ranks as the “Gray Son of Gotham”.


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  • Ian Miller

    I’d forgotten how annoying these crossover events were. I liked King’s writing quite a bit, and there were a couple of decent issues in this crossover by other authors (none of them by Ray Fawkes, who seems to have been thrown a bone of writing whatever fill-in issues the creative teams didn’t want to write for this series), but the ending was incredibly annoying. Expanding the Court of Owls worldwide is ridiculous, given how secretive and Gotham based they have been since Snyder created them, and having Dick’s resolution being sacrificing himself for Damian is really silly (even if it’s in character), since he’s already doing that with Spyral. Layering two of the same plotline on top of each other doesn’t make for interesting storytelling, it just demonstrates a lack of imagination.

    Add to that the incredibly inconsistent art – while none of the art is bad, the jagging back and forth in the Robin War opening and closing does nothing for me, and the fill in artists on the other titles only remind me how good the normal art teams on those titles usually are.

    All in all, a disappointing conclusion to an interesting concept – but that’s par for the course for crossovers. I’d just forgotten because I haven’t read one in quite a while.

  • Bill Heuer

    Good points Ian. I also was not a fan of the new “Parliament of Owls” given the Court’s deep roots in Gotham. It made them feel more grounded and frightening given their control over just a city’s history & future. Its what makes them such a great villain for Batman and his family. Having them go global now just makes it seem weird and over-reaching for more plots elsewhere in the Bat-Universe. As if there weren’t already enough global threats, evil organizations, secret societies, etc. in the world!

    I was okay with Dick joining the Court as a sacrifice despite also being in Spryal just because it is something he’d do for his family which was the whole point of the Grayson issue of Robin War. Your point about double layering is completely valid though. I only hope that they have a legitimate, interesting reason for doing this. King has handled the character well up until now so I believe he’s got good ideas for this plot line. I’m definitely left guessing as to where they’ll place this next chapter of Grayson’s life. Future solicitations of Grayson don’t make any mention of him tangling with the Court so I’m not sure when this will fit in. Perhaps when he returns to Nightwing series? (Hopefully the tease for his return as Nightwing won’t be too big of a disappointment)

  • I think most of us agree that the whole “we goin’ international with this baby!” aspect of the Court really seems to take away from the core conceit. The Court is interesting because of their deep connection to Gotham. And while I was horrified to see Dick put on the Mask, I have to also say that I’m beginning to feel like the Court itself is getting far too much run and the creepiness of the whole enterprise is fading rapdily. If every other month we get an event with Lincoln March and some suits and gowns with one creepy child wearing Owl masks standing behind him tittering, they’re gonna turn into cannon fodder. But the WEIRDEST things for me -and I wondered if it’s just me or if anyone else had the same thought- when they showed the screens of the courts from all around the world, all I could think of was that movie Cabin in the Woods where there’s the weird council that sets up the horror story? And they do it in cities all over the world to make sure that the old gods are satisfied…. Anyone? No? TBH it completely took me out of the comic cuz I couldn’t stop laughing about a Mer-Man… Ha!