On The Cheap: What To Pick Up In The ‘Robin War’ Sale
This week marked the start of DC's Robin War event, in which children dressed as birds will presumably battle each other with consequences far more dire than that description might suggest. But while we wait to see who will survive and what will be left of them, now's a pretty good chance to catch up on the history of Batman's sidekick.
Fortunately for us, there's a big Robin sale going on at Comixology, with a ton of great stuff from the character's long history, covering everything from the Silver Age Teen Titans to the modern super-spy adventures of Grayson. If you need a place to start, read on and let me be your guide!
Okay, first things first: This sale includes Jim Starlin and Doc Bright's Batman #425, aka "Unintended Consequnces," aka The One Where Batman Fights A Bunch Of Dudes In A Junkyard, marked down to 99 cents. It's the first comic I ever loved and it's still one of my all-time favorites thanks to a scene where Batman throws a car battery at a nameless thug and just totally wrecks him, so I'm pretty much obligated to recommend it whenever it comes up.
Two caveats, though: First, it's the second part of a story that begins in the previous issue's "Diplomat's Son" (aka The One Where You Find Out They'd Already Decided That Jason Todd Was Going TO Die), which is a really, really dark story. Second, for best results, go back in time and read this when you're six years old and then obsess over it for the next 27 years.
Now, onto more Robin-focused offerings:
If you're looking for a solid Robin story, then my highest recommendation would go to Scott Beatty, Chuck Dixon and Javier Pulido's Robin: Year One. It's usually paired up with Beatty, Dixon and Marcos Martin's Batgirl: Year One, and for good reason. They're not just similar in terms of the art style, they're also fantastic stories in their own right.
The one weird thing about Robin: Year One is that it actually sets up something that would play out in the pages of the Nightwing issues that were coming out at the same time. The thing is, that never detracts from the feeling that you're getting a complete story here, possibly because the stuff with Shrike is overshadowed by the core of the arc, which has some of the most harrowing Two-Face stuff I've ever read.
Getting the complete series for $4 is a solid deal --- especially since each issue is an oversized 48-page affair --- but it's almost worth waiting to see if the price ever drops on the collection that has this and the Batgirl story.
If you're looking to get caught up on more recent stories, Grayson is easily one of the best books DC has on the stands right now, full of high concept spy action that sees Tim Seeley, Tom King and Mikel Janin pick up a bunch of pieces that Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham left on the table at the end of Batman Incorporated. The idea of Dick Grayson playing super-spy is interesting on its own, but the addition of the underlying structure that he's going undercover for Batman, and how the events of Endgame changed that, make it even more compelling.
Plus, the modern Dick Grayson/Helena Bertinelli relationship that's on display is a hugely underrated piece of those characters' relationships, and the girls of St. Hadrian's need their own ongoing series toute de suite.
If you still feel like digging after those, there's a lot of good stuff beyond that, too. All of those Bob Haney/Nick Cardy Teen Titans issues from the '60s are worth reading if you've got any affection for goofy Silver Age stuff --- and even if you don't, they're cheap enough to give it a shot to see if they can change your mind. I'd recommend #3, where they fight the hot-roddin' scourge of Ding Dong Daddy. Seriously.