Thursday, February 07, 2019

80-Page Thursdays: Robin 80-Page Giant #1!

This is our first 80-page Thursday of the year--and the first since June last year--and now I wonder how many I have left to get from when DC was doing these: from 2000, Robin 80-Page Giant #1, "Nature's Bride: A Tale of Robin and Marital Bliss" Written by Chuck Dixon, art by Diego Barreto.

"Fifty years ago," sometime before McCarthyism caused them to disband, the Justice Society faces Ravenna in Rheelasia: where exactly that is isn't clear, but I'm guessing around India because of the tigers she was controlling. With the amulet of "Animha M'nhda" she claimed to control all living things, but before she could throw down with the original Black Canary, she was killed by a volcano. Dr. Fate notes the irony: the villain had accidentally saved a number of people, by chasing them away from the volcano; but Canary wonders if they've seen the last of her...Decades later, amateur archeologist Jack Drake discovers a corpse with a mysterious amulet, that they can't identify as a local relic, so Jack keeps it for his new bride. Meanwhile, unseen by anyone, a turtle watches sinisterly...

In Gotham City, Robin and Spoiler are trying to catch some high-climbing home invaders, and Robin's having some trouble with Steph following orders. When a hostage is taken, the burglar picks the worst hostage ever: Black Canary! Steph is star-struck, and asks if maybe she was looking for a new partner or apprentice. Canary doesn't seem super into it. Still, after getting mad at Robin, Spoiler tries to go back to Canary, and finds her under attack; or so it appears: she interrupts a sparring session with Wildcat, who after the initial kick in the head, is pretty amused by this; since that's how he ended up training Canary. But Wildcat's less amused by a picture in the society pages: Jack Drake's wedding announcement, with a familiar looking amulet.

Tim has to change for the wedding rehearsal, which includes meeting his new cousins, Kitty and Becky, who are giggly around him; but new stepmom Dana rescues him. Although Tim thinks this is where she becomes "the wicked stepmom, she does the opposite, saying she has no intention of replacing his mother. They are interrupted by a "zoobreak," as a stampede hits the rehearsal! Going into "Robin mode," he gets Dana to his car, chased by a panther the whole way; then Dana goes all Zuul with the amulet. Ravenna takes over, attacking Tim and forcing him into the ditch. Spoiler, Canary, and Wildcat find his car; as Tim changes into Robin, trying to keep his secret identity from everyone here. (He mentions having to call Alfred and Harold to tow his car, so no one notices it was more than it seemed.)

Ravenna runs the heroes through a gauntlet of animals, with Wildcat and Spoiler getting separated. Spoiler ends up captured, under an elephant, but manages to be the one to knock out Ravenna in the end. The amulet is taken, presumably for Wildcat to give to Dr. Fate, and Dana remembers nothing suspicious about her stepson. Her wedding is picture-perfect, with one hitch: a black eye, from Spoiler's punch.

Robin ran for about 185 issues, and I'm not sure how much of this one was touched upon later. Not unlike Dixon's Hella in Nightwing, Ravenna has some potential, but did she ever return? Jack Drake would be a meaningless sacrifice--one of too many--in Identity Crisis; I don't know if he was still with Dana at that point. I don't think Spoiler was trained by Canary, or at least not for long, or why not: it would be some time before Batman would acknowledge her. (I've read part of that, and I don't know if Batman being a dick and training Steph to try and leverage Tim back into the job was a retcon, or from the start.) And correct me if I'm wrong, but it almost feels like Dixon doesn't even like Spoiler? Like she's a slightly modernized take on 50's Batwoman/Bat-Girl stories, where the ladies are bumbling caricatures, meddling in serious man's work? Could be wrong, there, but Steph wouldn't get props until she was Batgirl, I don't think.

Anyway, I'm not up on my 2000-era Robin continuity, sorry. Still, with this one I think I have almost all of the 80-pagers DC did around 1999-2000; with maybe two exceptions: the infamously pulped Elseworlds and the third Green Lantern one. The Elseworlds was eventually reprinted; that may be the easier to find...

By the way, Wildcat doesn't get a tag, since every time I see him I think of Gail Simone's "You'll All Be Sorry with him.

1 comment:

SallyP said...

I am VERY fond of Wildcat...but man...his mask just makes me giggle.

It's...just so...cute!