R.I.P. Robin (Again)

1 Mar

by Orion Tippens

Robin death news

I heard the news today, oh boy…

I think the comics industry took a step back this week.

Batman Incorporated Volume 2, issue #8 happened.

Not so much the story, but the sudden PR blitz behind it, hitting the mass media. Also, the knee-jerk reaction by comic investment speculators. As to the subject, you probably already know. But just in case, spoilers ahead.

Robin is dead…again.

So if you are into comics as much as I am, and actual readers following current Batman comics, then you’ll know him as Damian Wayne. Damian is the son of Batman and Talia al Ghul. If you know Grant Morrison (he is a very famous comic book writer!), than understand he has a lot of power over the DC universe (that’s where Superman and Wonder Woman live), because of his earned trust on writing interesting stories. He created Damian Wayne for the current Batman comics to perhaps add interesting, complex dimension to the familiar mythos. Success, I think. Damian Wayne is an awesome character, and became part of some fantastic stories. Most notably among them, Batman and Robin volume 2, written by Peter Tomasi.

Batman Inc #8 cover detail

Batman Inc #8 cover detail

But never mind that: apparently the mass media informed the greater public masses (probably resulting from a rushed press release) that ROBIN is DEAD! Of course, the “geek” culture has earned enough cred through movies, TV, and video games to be considered this relevant to entertainment reporting. But, wow that is kind of insulting, to just throw it out there like that. I mean, to publicize a development to the story, without the story itself kind of degrades the literature as a whole.

Mainly because: it’s all bad marketing. First off, we are marketing a small point in a far larger story that has spanned YEARS. The Grant Morrison Batman epic is a good story. Hey, CNN, CBS, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly (all show up first in Google News on this): could you tell us why it’s called Batman Incorporated? Could you tell us who or what killed him, or how he died? Could you tell us that Jason Todd is still all alive (his past death and relevance is to the Robin legacy is apparent, but don’t worry: I’m confused, too)? How about not reminding us who played Talia in Dark Knight Rises (also noticed in some write-ups by the mass media).  Has it occurred to the mass media what big suckers they are for shit like this. Remember when Captain America, Spider-Man, and Superman all died – only to be brought back, and reported to a lesser extent?

And the comic itself, arrrrgh! I am happy I obtained this through the legal digital market. I would have been horrified in my lateness to buy this latest issue because of some damn media blitz. I enjoyed the hell out of the Batman Inc. storyline and enjoyed following the Grant Morrison story progression since R.I.P. (that’s where Batman died, or was it Final Crisis, sigh…well, he DIED, the media said so!!!). Anyway, I have been enjoying this story as a whole, BatCow and all!

So, here is the story in brief and its tremendous buildup: Batman is outclassed and fighting for his life inside a locked safe while Talia and her sinister Leviathan organization overpower Gotham City. Talia is on the edge of total victory and global ruin, and it’s up to Damian Wayne to save the day. As the Boy Wonder, he must eventually face his greatest enemy: his clone brother, a.k.a. The Fatherless. The fight is incredibly badass and violent. In the end, there is tragedy. Not the best Batman comic, but certainly riveting.

But, I guess for the comics industry, the death of a prepubescent boy holding iconic relevance means cha-ching! Look at the prices on eBay: WTF? I’ve read reports from fellow Redditors on some immediate comic book-store markups. Really?!

Robin on eBay

Price = scarcity (nope) x demand (maybe)…

There is a positive side, as the comics medium could use the attention and struggling small comics stores will likely appreciate the push. Increased drama from tragedy can be a wonderfully needed shake for comics readers. Let the writers and pencillers do their thing, and leave opinion to the readers. Spoiling that early through news feeds and media marketing, as they make a rushed big deal, seems absurd.

So to any comics retailer who did not mark up these particular Batman comics, cheers to you. If you didn’t order enough and regret it, than too bad; you should place more trust in really good comics. That is an investment enough, I think. Just ask anyone who bought and held on to those early Walking Dead comics.

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