In last weekâ€™s review of Robin #174, I wondered what was going to happen with the Tim/Stephanie/Robin/Spoiler relationship now that Stephanie has returned to Gotham City from her sojourn in Africa. The Robin/Spoiler special released this past week from DC Comics clears up some of those unanswered questions.
This special issue is larger than a regular monthly, containing two stories; one 22-pages, and another that is 16-pages in length. While both stories are interesting, I applaud DC for going the one-shot route instead of drawing these tales into two monthlies, as I donâ€™t think they would have been as well received. And with everything going on with Batman: R.I.P. this may have been the only solution available to fit the change in story into the DCU without disrupting the flow of the big Batman crossover event.
The first tale finds Stephanie attending the same school as Tim, but hanging with a different crowd. There is a brief interaction between Zo, Stephanie, and Tim that is played off rather cooly. Even though we know Zo and Tim arenâ€™t an item at the moment, there is still a hint of tension, and the surprise introduction of Stephanie in the mix throws Tim for a loop.
To help get things back to normal, Steph suggests the two hang out with a goth/punk crowd as they trespass on a closed factory to party it up. Itâ€™s called a creep – not quite a rave, not quite the Outsiders level of social exclusion; regardless, Iâ€™m too old to understand what these young Gotham kids are into these days, but I will stay golden Ponyboy.
Things quickly go from good to worse, when a doll is found, and a hooded figure begins following and shooting at the teens. A quick change later, and Spoiler and Robin find themselves on the short list of heroes tracking down criminals who have kidnapped a young child.
Thereâ€™s a nice introduction of a potential new goth-punk girl into the story, and I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if she is a recurring character just to mix things up a bit.
As expected, the good guys win, the bad guys lose, and it looks like the teen dynamic duo is back. There is plenty of action, and the dialogue and pacing moves the story along. Writer Chuck DIxon opted to tell this first story via Stephanieâ€™s diary, so nearly everything is told from her perspective.
The second tale is a flashback story that takes a look at Stephanie and Dr. Thompsonâ€™s time in Africa as the two administer medical care to poor villages. But as good as things appear, it only takes the insertion of a group of bad guys that threaten the village to prompt Stephanie into action.
The big bad in this tale is a pretty evil dude, and with the white face paint and smeared red across the lips, one wonders if artist Victor Ibanez is trying to give us an African version of The Joker. It works here because it shows Stephanie that no matter where she goes, sheâ€™s going to have to don some kind of costume to fight crime, and if she is going to do that, she might as well do it back in Gotham.
At the end of the day, I have to wonder why this was turned into a special issue instead of an annual. Iâ€™m sure there is one more story or bonus content hidden somewhere that could have been included to bulk up the page count, while still delivering a kick-ass issue that would have fit perfectly into my organized collection of comics, instead of being forced into a new filing category.
- Seeing Tim and Stephanie step right back into their relationship
- A good team-up story
- Art by Albuquerque and Ibanez
- Better here than in the Robin monthly
- Should this have been the Robin Annual?
Iâ€™m glad Stephanie is back. Here â€œdeathâ€ all so long ago, really upset a lot of people, but did provide a new point o reasoning for Robin and Batman to do what they do. Character development was changed, but hopefully with the return of The Spoiler, Chuck Dixon doesnâ€™t erase all the motional stuff that was built these last couple of years, but instead uses these changes to further some really great tales. The Robin Spoiler issue is well done, but not something you absolutely must buy to enjoy the Robin title proper. Solid story and art earn this Special issue a solid 3.5 out of 5 Stars.