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Review: We Are Robin #5

we are robinOpening in a dark alley of Gotham, a homeless man is being recruited to join the underground army. The recruiter tells the homeless man that he can be cleansed by “the masters”. Coming out of the shadows, a Talon from the Court of Owls approaches the recruiter, El Topo, and determines that their army can’t be filled with the worst of society but must be “grown”. Despite some successes, the Talon sees an end to this plan to use the homeless and kills El Topo.


At a diner in town, Robin Isabella “Izzy” Ortiz is waitressing when a gangster named Hector begins to cause trouble. He threatens her when she gives him pushback. Later when she leaves the diner, Hector and other gang members attack her. As she is fighting back, other Robins show up to lend a hand. After beating up the gang members, it’s revealed that Hector is Izzy’s brother.


All the Robins meet up at an abandoned toy factory. They are there on a request from Riko who begins to tell them about the time the Joker tried to poison Gotham with poison-filled toys and the Batman stopped him. She gets interrupted by the team who begin to argue about their overall purpose as a movement. While they argue, Alfred is watching them through camera feeds in the building.


Eventually he surprises them by backing a “Robin” truck, stocked with weapons and gear, into the building. A disguised Alfred then explains to the Robins that he is going guide and train them to complete their mission to help Gotham.


After leaving the factory, the team is on a train discussing Troy’s death and Robin “Dre” Cipriani makes the point that none of them really knew him or each other. Duke takes this opportunity to exploit the fact that Dre is a “mob” kid. They begin to argue but Robin “Dax” Chill convinces Dre to leave the train with him.


Once the group is split up, the last pages focus on Duke, Riko, and Izzy. They are discussing Dre’s mob connections and Izzy’s abusive brother when Duke is shot by Hector in a drive-by. As the car speeds away, it is stopped by the Talon from the beginning of the issue. He kills Hector and the other gang members. The Talon then tells the three Robins that he will teach them how to dispense “true” justice.


In the epilogue, Alfred returns to a scrap yard which contains an underground bunker. Alfred gets in a military jeep and speeds out of bunker and back onto the streets of Gotham stating that he will bring home all those that had fallen from the nest.


This issue had an good combination of overall plot development as well as introducing more backstory to some of the Robins. Getting the reveal of both Izzy’s and Dre’s family ties helped to understand these characters a little better. It seems clear that Bermejo will be sprinkling in backstories for each Robin with each issue.


The introduction of a Talon into the mix certainly brings the Robin movement into the big leagues. Prior to this, they mostly dealt with street level criminals and the homeless army. Now, we are getting to see who has been pulling the strings of the homeless army and the bombings and it turns out to be a villain that put Batman through the ringer. I am not sure how this will play out but I am hoping that the Robins will not be able to take on a Talon. The appeal of this series has been normal kids tackling crime in their own way by adopting an iconic symbol. If they are able to go toe-to-toe with an immortal assassin, it would be just a little too much for what this series is all about.


One big plus for me this series and this issue has been the use of Alfred. We are getting to see a very proactive father figure who is doing everything possible to protect these children as they embark on their crusade to save the city. Taking into account that he has had to bury Robins in the past, it just makes his mission that much more emotional and meaningful.


The art team bring us back to the tone of the previous issues, not counting issue #4, and delivers a gritty and action filled issue. The coloring brings this tone to life with dark oranges and browns mixed with heavy shadowing. Penciller Jorge Corona created a very creepy and haunting Talon that steals the show in every panel he appears.


Overall, this issue accomplishes both plot and character development and even finally revealed who had been controlling the homeless army from the beginning. Having it be the Court of Owls or a rogue Talon just makes me that much more excited for next month.


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  • Ian Miller

    I’m a bit disappointed that they’re starting the Robin War ramp up so early – I understand it will make things feel more organic in the title, but I don’t like the way it makes the event less self contained. I also don’t like how it messes with the chronology of the series with Batman and Robin Eternal – because clearly in Eternal, the Robins are back on board and listening to Alfred through the Nest, but here, they’re breaking them off.

    Also, I’m very curious how Alfred is going to train them other than giving them equipment. I like the questioning of the lack of training that leads to Troy’s death – I don’t like the blaming of Troy for his own death, since Alfred didn’t train any of them how to act in that kind of situation, and these are the kinds of kids who will disobey orders to try to save people.

  • Bill Heuer

    Ian, I agree with you on the rushing of Robin War. As far as release date of the event, I understand why they’re teasing the event now but timing just doesn’t feel right for the story. Although I’m glad we find out who is really behind the bombings and homeless army. That did seem to fit in at the right time in the series.
    Eternal seems to always mess with chronology. Because Eternal is entertaining, I’m willing to give it a pass but I totally get your complaint.

    I’m actually thinking that Alfred won’t be “training” the Robins per se but will mostly just give them equipment and coordinate their movements (like an Oracle-type character). Part of the appeal of the series is knowing none of the Robins have formal training and bring their own unique talents to fighting street crime.

  • I enjoy Eternal a lot too – I just wish this title didn’t move so slowly.

    I enjoy the “everyone can be a Robin” aspect of the series, but I’m more than a bit frustrated that they’ve literally killed one of the Robins because he wasn’t trained in emergency situations and trusting your coordinator (Troy was trying to do the right thing – I don’t think it’s his fault that he wanted to save people and didn’t trust a text message), and Alfred still isn’t giving them proper training. I don’t think anyone should be a vigilante – I think it takes training and a network of people you trust, or you end up hurt or dead. This series seems to want to be “gritty” and “real,” so I think it should reflect that. Unless the end of the series is everyone dead because they’re trying to prove the point. But that doesn’t seem like much fun at all.

    • Corbin Pool

      I don’t know that I agree with you, Ian. I really enjoy this series. I am very impress with Bermejo’s writing. He’s really letting the characters drive the story over plot. It gives it a very genuine take on the state of vigilantes in Gotham.

      • I think Bermejo isn’t developing the characters and plot quickly enough to be driving anywhere. He’s given Duke, Riko, and Isabella motivation, but he hasn’t progressed any of their stories, or really done much past 1) show that the Robins are a thing in Gotham now, but without a purpose or significant success; 2) have Duke join them, and immediately drive two other Robins away. Alfred is the closest the series has to a driving force, but he’s being so mysterious that nothing much is happening anyway. There’s a lot of hints, but no direct knowledge or planning on anyone except Alfred’s part – and because Alfred refuses to properly train the Robins or tell them anything important, they are stumbling onto things by accident – which is how another former Robin caused a gang war and ended up “dead.”

        I think the idea of a “genuine” take on vigilantes could be fun – but I think it would take a writer with more skill in sketching and developing characters than Bermejo currently has. He’s good at coming up with situations (I love his profiles for the Robins), but he’s done very poorly in dramatizing most of their characters (I feel more sad about Troy’s death based on his profile than anything he said in the comic itself), and there’s a real lack of solid development of plot or characters. I think most of what’s happened in these five issues could have been handled in two or three.

        • Corbin Pool

          I gotcha. The first three issues of the series did feel rushed, but I also understand why. Things have to happen in a series like this, or people just won’t buy it.
          Troy’s death was sudden, and didn’t leave an impact until we were able to let it sink in, but that felt real to me. And without his death, we wouldn’t have gotten issue 4, which was amazing in my opinion.

          • Ian Miller

            Totally agree that issue 4 was great – but I think it would have been better if Bermejo had given Troy some backstory, or anything besides just 1) wanting to eat food all the time, and 2) dying because he wasn’t trained to trust Alfred’s orders. His death was heroic and moving, but it was also very shallow, because we didn’t know anything about him. I want the impact of the series to be deep, not shallow. For example, in No Man’s Land, I will remember Sarah Essen’s death for a long time, because her backstory was deep and rich, and killing her off was hard for the writers. I doubt I will really remember Troy’s death that long, because there wasn’t anything to care about (other than the character profile, which had a lot of promise).

            Bermejo needs to learn to balance action beats (which he does pretty well) with character hooks (which he also does pretty well) and payoffs (which he hasn’t done except for issue 4, and even that only partially, since it’s mostly Riko’s hook, without quite enough payoff to make her a character to really care about).

  • Corbin Pool

    Yeah, I agree with you there. But I don’t know if Bermejo ment for it to have that same type of impact. I think he did exactly what he wanted. Whether everyone likes it or not, is another deal.

  • Bill Heuer

    Both of you make great points. I know, for me, that issue 3 was the hook that got me really into the series. Although Troy wasn’t developed, I thought he was going to be and then he gets blown away. This certainly surprised me since they were setting him up as a leader/hero type. As far as making this series “gritty and real”, Troy’s death pretty much accomplished that I thought. If a bunch of teenagers actually tried doing this, I wouldn’t expect all of them to make it out alive. My only concern now for the series is that they will change the tone with the introduction of a villain like the Court of Owls and it will become less grounded.

    • Ian Miller

      I definitely agree that if you were attempting to try for some kind of social realism applied to vigilante superheros without powers, people would die. I mostly wish that issue #4, as moving as it was, had actually done something to examine the question of whether it’s actually acceptable for Alfred or Batgirl to approve of it. It’s all the more confusing when you consider that Batgirl mentions her own problems with Frankie – but that’s in her own, frothy, insubstantial series where the only people who die are the victims of the week, and the danger is candy coated. Having her disapprove of Frankie when the danger is so hard to feel, while approving of Riko where the danger literally just killed her friend, is incredibly confusing.

      Court of Owls is mostly for the crossover, I think. I think it’s clear that Bermejo’s heart is going into the We Are Jokers idea following Robin War.