Robin: The Joker's Wild
by Chuck Dixon, Tom Lyle (DC Comics, 1991)

Some of the best characterization ever done in comics has been in DC's Robin, protege of Batman. And, of the several youngsters who have occupied that role, Tim Drake has shown the most character depth.

One of the highlights of his development into the Caped Crusader's erstwhile partner was a 1991 miniseries (also available in a collected edition) titled Robin II: The Joker's Wild. In the tale, the youth gets a baptism of fire, so to speak, when he matches wits with Batman's greatest nemesis, the Clown Prince of Crime.

One significant, yet important, detail keeps this from being just another Joker yarn, and that's the fact that Batman is out of town, leaving the Boy Wonder to face an incredibly dangerous foe on his own.

Chuck Dixon is perhaps the most accomplished writer where Robin is concerned, and this is one of the high points of the character's history, as well as Dixon's career. Readers see Tim tackle his own failures and shortcomings, not with self-indulgent whining and "introspection," in the sometimes-overdone Marvel Comics manner, but by changing and adapting his strategy. In short, readers see the character grow into much more than just a "kid sidekick."

Dixon also infused Drake with a multi-layered personality, establishing his love for computers and role-playing games, and revealing that his friends are not part of the "in" crowd. Those kinds of additions deepen the character considerably.

Artist Tom Lyle injects the story with all of the drama, action and emotion needed to complete this fun superhero romp. His clear lines and well-defined characters always enhance the story, his version of Robin remains one of my favorites to this day.

Robin II: The Joker's Wild is recommended for any fan of well-done superhero fare that is also infused with great character work.

review by
Mark Allen

26 September 2009

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