How many Batman books is too many Batman books? Depending on who you ask there ain’t no such thing! We try to stay up on what’s going on at DC, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of DC Comics. Today, we’re discussing The Flash 44 and We Are Robin 4.
The Flash 44
Spencer: In The Flash 44, Robert Venditti and Van Jensen craft a story that’s all about the way our perceptions affect reality. Singh’s relationship with Hartley, for example, is damaged by Singh’s fear of how the public would react to his dating an ex-Rogue; whether that fear is well-founded or not is irrelevant, because the fear is enough to damage their relationship all on its own. Professor Zoom, meanwhile, is an expert at twisting perceptions to his advantage; he’s gained a troupe of loyal followers by painting the Flash as a monster, passes up an opportunity to murder Flash in order to first ruin his reputation, and knows enough about how Flash views the world (everything can be solved by moving faster and hitting harder) to turn those strengths into weaknesses. I’m eager to see how both these situations will change if/when the truth comes to light; can the truth trump these characters’ preconceived notions?
Artist Brett Booth’s panel composition has become so frantic in recent months that it’s lost the impact it once had, but there’s still a few moments that stood out to me in issue 44.
I feel like the circular layout of the panels helps bring to life Barry’s transition from “nearly dead” to “healed and pissed,” but most impressive is the way Booth and colorist Andrew Dalhouse drop the color and backgrounds in the final panel; in a book that sometimes feels a bit busy, its most striking moment is the one that’s most minimalist.
Mark, I’ll pass this onto you by asking a question: what do you think is up with Tim, the CCPD mechanic who takes Wally under his wing? Booth keeps Tim’s face obscured by his hat at all times; do you think there’s some sort of twist to Tim’s identity, or is it just a stylistic tic? My far-out pet theory: Tim is an adult Wally come back in time to ensure Wally becomes Kid Flash. Wally and Tim have matching skin-tones, it would explain his hidden identity, and time-travel wankery is an integral part of any Flash’s origin. Care to make a guess of you own?
Mark: I was actually thinking the same thing! If it turns out that Tim’s identity is not important at all, I admit I’ll be a little annoyed. You’re being kind to call it a stylistic tic, but I think it’d just be poor visual storytelling. Which is something I feel to be true about Brett Booth’s art on Flash in general. There is always so much going on that I find it difficult to follow. Take a look at page 19 from this week’s Flash 44:
We Are Robin 4
Mark: Speaking of art, I have to give it up to the art team on We Are Robin 4: James Harvey, Diana Egea, and Alex Jaffe. The really strong pop art aesthetic gives it a look unlike any other comic in the DC universe.
It’s a huge step up for We Are Robin (sorry Jorge Corona), and I’ll be sad to see it go away next month.
Narratively, even though We Are Robin is a “team” title, issue 4 focuses solely on the story of Riko and it’s one of the stronger issues because of it. Part of my problem with We Are Robin as a whole is that we don’t know the members of the team as individuals so it’s difficult for us to care about them. By focusing on Riko for an entire issue, we have a better understanding of what it is these kids want — or at least what one of these kids wants.
Michael: Mark hit it right on the head — We Are Robin definitely suffers from boasting an extensive cast that is full of people that we don’t know all that much about (besides Duke Thomas). So far we’ve witnessed a bunch of kids getting familiar with superhero-ing in Gotham, while we as readers are simultaneously trying to get familiar with the kids themselves. The pop art-infused style of We Are Robin 4 gives this book the personality that it so desperately needs — as it explores a similarly pop culture savvy heroine in Riko.
Given her hip, upbeat makeover I’m not surprised that Batgirl shows up in this issue to give Riko some words of wisdom and encouraging her to continue following her heart. Typically I’m not a fan of editorial footnotes and outside references, but for the very particular place that Batgirl is in her life at the moment I found her advice to Riko to be quite poignant. Though the Twitter-ish element has been present since We Are Robin began, this was the issue that made it pronounced for me. We are witness the bizarre “catfishing” of superheroes via social media that made me think of the constant chiming in of media viewers and commentators in The Dark Knight Returns. While it’s probably not feasible for the book to focus each issue on a member of the “Robins” team, I hope that Lee Bermejo & co. give the rest of the cast the type of attention they gave Riko. Because, it’s nice to know who you’re rooting for, right?
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?