ROBIN: YEAR ONE
Writers: Chuck Dixon & Scott Beatty
Pencillers: Javier Pulido & Marcos Martin
Inker: Robert Campanella
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Sean Konot
With Robin's 80th Anniversary this month, I thought what a perfect time to read some great stories and share them with all of you. The first book on that list had to cover the OG Robin himself, Dick Grayson. While Dick's early years weren't really covered extensively when he first came out, like most Golden Age characters, over the years many creators have added to his past. Without a doubt though ROBIN: YEAR ONE was one of the best. Chuck Dixon & Scott Beatty's story chronicles Dick's first year as Batman's sidekick and covers 4 distinct cases that helped make him into the hero he would one day become.
The story picks up shortly after the man who killed Dick's parents was defeated. He has ingratiated himself into Bruce's life and war on crime. He still has the youthful joy that he's so well known for. To him it's still somewhat of a game and he feels untouchable. But that doesn't mean he doesnt take it seriously, he always puts the mission over his own personal joy, even when that means ditching a girl. The first adventure where he takes down the Mad Hatter and his kidnapping ring, ignoring Bruce's orders, shows his keen mind and confidence in knowing how to get the job done no matter what. It was here that Bruce really began to trust in his new ward.
Throughout the book we get narration from Alfred, and see the struggle he went through in being an accomplice to this young kid being thrust into a life of crime fighting. I mean no matter how you look at it, it's pretty crazy to think that a grown man would allow this 12 year old to fight crime with him. But then again he's also dressed like a bat. It's these moments though that give this book the depth and emotion that make it a really great story. We get a new perspective on these 3, decades old characters, that we had previously never gotten to see.
Perhaps the most trying mission was the one where they faced off against Two-Face. Up until that point Dick has thought that most of the villains were laughable, but he had no idea what he was about to encounter. Once again he ignored Batman's orders, instead choosing to try and save him from Dent's evil machinations. What he e countered though was a beating unlike any he had experienced. It made Captain Gordon's warning to Batman, pages earlier, feel that much heavier. This was a turning point for these two and caused Batman to "fire" Robin.
Feeling down on himself, Dick found a group of young men that were being trained by assassin calling himself Shrike. One of these young boys, Boone, would go on to be an adversary of Dick years later once he became Nightwing. While training with Shrike, Dick realizes that the man they're going after is none other than Two-Face. He sees this as a chance to get revenge. But when the time comes he doesnt take the easy way out, he decide not to kill him. This show shows the strength of his character, but it also exposes him to Shrike as a fraud. After reading a letter that Dick left with Alfred, Batman saves his young ward from Shrike and welcome him back home. Thus setting them on their course of being the greatest Dynamic Duo ever.
While this story was exceptionally good, it wouldn't have been the same if not for the amazing art team. Javier Pulido and Marcos Martin did an excellent job of giving it that classic feel while also feeling modern at the same time. The way they illustrate Robin's fighting depicted the gracefulness that he's know for and contrasted it with the brutish fighting of Batman's. They both are fantastic artists in their own right, so putting them together in one book is an absolute treat.
This book perfectly encapsulates why Dick/Robin had long been considered one of the most important characters in the DCU. Some even say he's more important than Wonder Woman. While he has been around for so long and worn many guises, his time as Robin was something that can never be overlooked. If you haven't read this book before, I highly recommend you rectify that immediately. This is by far one of the best takes on Dick Grayson and in my opinion is essential reading.