Friday, October 18, 2013

ROBIN #7 - June 1994

Turning Point
Credits:  Chuck Dixon (writer), Tom Grummett (penciler), Ray Kryssing (inker), Albert DeGuzman (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  Tim Drake prepares for the return of his father, and reunites with Bruce Wayne.  After they take his father home, Tim shows Bruce the current condition of Wayne Manor.  When Bruce learns that Jean-Paul, as Batman, killed Abattoir, he’s adamant that Jean-Paul give up the cowl.  They break into the sealed-off Batcave and soon confront Jean-Paul.  He slams Bruce against the wall and leaves.  As Robin, Tim tries to chase him in his Redbird car, but can’t keep up.  Later, Bruce reveals to Tim his plan to retrain his body.

Irrelevant Continuity:  Bruce Wayne is walking again, although none of the stories in this collection explains how that happened.  Tim also mentions that Bruce “brought back my father,” which is another reference to events that are not reprinted.

Review:  After around sixty comics or so, the Knightfall trades finally get around to reprinting an issue of Robin, which I think leaves Legends of the Dark Knight as the only Bat-title not represented so far.  I have a random collection of Dixon’s Robin issues from the ‘90s, and the overwhelming majority of them are quite good.  He took the initial concept of Tim Drake as the more “intellectual” Robin and ran with it, essentially turning him into Peter Parker as Batman’s sidekick.  We see a few elements of this during the issue as Robin is placed in awkward secret identity situations, and deals with the guilt of abandoning his feeble father in order to play superhero.  The only action in the issue comes during a chase scene, which doesn’t do much to advance the ongoing storyline, but reminds anyone who’s missed the past year of stories that Jean-Paul is too reckless to be Batman.  (Seeing him drive against oncoming traffic while escaping Robin actually is kind of cool.)  

This is the last issue reprinted in the second Knightfall trade, which gives me another invitation to complain about what isn’t in the book.  More specifically, I’d like to gripe about what is included instead.  The Joker and Catwoman storylines do nothing to advance the major plotline, but I suppose they’re significant as the new Batman’s first meeting with the iconic characters.  While it’s hard to cut anything from the Joker arc, surely we didn’t need all four chapters of that Catwoman crossover.  At the very least, the first chapter in Catwoman could’ve been easily skipped.  Any issue of Shadow of the Bat could be dropped without disrupting the continuity, except for the debut of Jean-Paul’s new costume.  Dropping Bunny and Gunhawk wouldn’t hurt the flow, either.  And that Abattoir arc…yeesh.  Just spare us and reprint the first and last chapters.  Now, wouldn’t this leave plenty of room to explain why Bruce Wayne can walk again?


j said...

The first issue of Robin starts with Azreal kicking him out of the Batcave so I'm surprised that wasn't included either.

Anonymous said...

Is there a reason why they didn't just throw everything in? I get that the stuff you're talking about is superfluous, but I'd be fine with having it as long as these missing chapters were included as well. Why not? Could DC have milked this out to four volumes? Seems like it would have been in their best interest. Were this vital chapters left out for a reason, or was this just a poorly researched project?

The Marvel reprints always seem to nail everything, and often there is a final or companion volume of stuff that sometimes barely qualifies as part of the event, yet it's right there if you want to read it. I wonder what DC's deal is.

G. Kendall said...

I think DC could've easily gotten *five* volumes out of Knightall, if you also include the original Sword of Azrael mini, the Venom arc in LoDK, and early Bane appearances that weren't reprinted.

cyke68 said...

Yeah, who cares what the page count is when it's split across four, five, or however many volumes? Is this a somewhat recent collection or an older one from before a time when the "reprint everything" mentality was in full effect? Knightfall was a HUGE story for DC, so it seems like they'd devote some effort to keeping it in print, not to mention in its entirety.

I mean... Marvel gave the Clone Saga five volumes, and *six* for the Ben-Reilly-as-Spider-Man era. There's a freaking omnibus collecting just the Inferno crossovers. They practically titled it "Superfluous Inferno Tie-ins." I can't imagine anyone in the market for this buying three volumes, but turning his nose up at a fourth because that is just too many.

Matt said...

I get the impression that DC's Collected Editions group is run by people who aren't really fans. It's just work to them. I never see anyone from the department posting anyplace I frequent.

On the other hand, Marvel's Collected Editions folks were fans first, and they show up all over the place on message boards. They even solicit the help of other fans for hard-to-find bonus material.

Cyke -- I love those Clone Saga books. Eleven thick volumes to collect every single issue from those two years, annuals, limited series, and everything else included. Even if you don't like the stories contained therein, you have to admit that the research and effort put into the project resulted in some outstanding books.

The point being, Marvel's Collected Editions department is so far ahead of DC's that it's not even fair to compare the two. DC is getting better, but they still have a long way to go to even get anywhere near Marvel.

Anonymous said...

Marvel has collected nearly everything in their back catalog at some point by now.
Meanwhile, DC hasn't even bothered to collect a lot of their most popular and critically acclaimed work.

For these collections, DC picked out everything with the tie-in logo on the cover and reprinted it. If it didn't include a "Knight"-whatever logo on the cover, it got skipped.

These are the new editions, which collected more material, from what I understand.
The original TPBs, of which I own the "Knightfall" book, apparently missed even more material.

cyke68 said...

I try not to be Comic Book Guy when it comes to these things, but that sounds plain stupid. You might get the casual book store reader to buy a standalone collection of some random story, but only the diehard fan is going to bother with "vol. 3 of x." If they buy volume 3, it stands to reason they'll buy vol. 4, and so on. It's just leaving money on the table to arbitrarily limit these collections.

Or do diminishing returns cut so deep that the production costs on subsequent volumes make them prohibitively expensive? I can't imagine that's the case; again, I stress that Marvel was somehow able to justify publishing Essential Dazzler: vol. 2 (which is neither dazzling or essential). On that basis, Knightfall: volume whatever ought to be able to break even at a bare minimum.

Hmm, wasn't Bob Harras in charge of DC's Collected Editions before he became EiC? Like, for awhile? Say what you will about the man's supposed tyranny and mismanagement, but he does strike me as an actual fan of the content, judging from his creative output at least. Yet it doesn't seem like he made much of a mark in this capacity. Maybe he's just more of a Marvel guy? *shrug*

Teebore said...

I too remain perplexed at what was left out and why it wouldn't be included to pad out as many volumes as possible.

I first read the "Knightquest/KnightsEnd" material as part of the "Knightfall" novelization, and while I haven't read the corresponding issues (because they haven't been collected, grr...) just judging from the novelization, there's some fairly critical stuff involving Bruce Wayne that they've left out.

It's just mind boggling.

@Matt: The point being, Marvel's Collected Editions department is so far ahead of DC's that it's not even fair to compare the two. DC is getting better, but they still have a long way to go to even get anywhere near Marvel.

Indeed. It's amazing how many more Marvel trades I own than DC, simply because the Marvel ones are so much better put together/comprehensive/etc.

I mean, you can pretty much read, oh, say 65% of Marvel's entire output since FF #1 in trade, in one form or another. Maybe even more.

Whereas with DC, you've got a few Golden Age collections, the Showcase Silver Age reprints, the "greatest hits" stories and the more current, post-trade boom stuff, with huge swaths of material, especially from the 70s and 80s, unavailable.

Heck, then there's Marvel Unlimited, which for all the sometimes-annoying gaps in its collections, is still better than DC's analogous nothing.

@Anonymous: For these collections, DC picked out everything with the tie-in logo on the cover and reprinted it. If it didn't include a "Knight"-whatever logo on the cover, it got skipped.

That isn't even entirely true - all the Bruce Wayne healing/retraining stuff was labeled Knightquest: The Search on the cover, but DC seems to have decided to pretty much just leave out that entire storyline from the collections.

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