Robin has gotten a lot of attention from DC Comics this month as the focus of a movie and an oversized one-shot. Earlier this month, Robin was brutalized as Death in the Family was brought to the small screen, but this week a different Robin is doing the brutalizing. Robin King is a part of the Dark Nights Death Metal event by Peter J. Tomasi and illustrated by Riley Rossmo. It serves as a detailed standalone origin of the character that first appeared alongside the Batman Who Laughs. It also gives a lot of insight into Robin King’s motivations, abilities, and where he stands in the grand scheme of things.
I haven’t been a big fan of the Dark NIghts Death metal story overall, but I really enjoyed this one-shot. Even if I don’t follow up and read how the event concludes, it was still worth my time to give this issue a shot. The story is well-paced, with plenty of background, action, and character development. I think it could have been a little longer as it shares the double-size space with a short Signal feature, but it still feels complete.
I was a little skeptical of the Robin King art as it is pretty different from the rest of the DC comics that are out now. Riley Rossmo has a distinct style; it’s cartoony and slightly distorted. It’s perfect for a Teen Titans type story, but this teen is twisted. I really just accept the style to be the way things look in this Robin’s world and how he sees things as an unhinged murderous supervillain.
I like that the story is literally bursting with DC heroes, artifacts, and mythology. The origin of the Robin King is that of both Batman and the Joker. Hence, we get to see his version of falling down a well into the Batcave and being dropped in a chemical tank. There is also a beautiful double-page spread that goes over every maniacal thing in the Robin King’s utility belt. There are images and descriptions of 10 items, plus disturbing facts about robins that explain why he chose the mascot.
Much of the comic, though, is Robin murdering DC superheroes. This is both very unsettling and a horror fan’s dream come true at the same time. We get to see how a calculating maniac would dismantle our well-known heroes one by one. Some of the ways he ends these classic DC heroes include being consumed by their own family, phased into a wall, and killed by their own avatar. Not only do we get to watch the horrors unfold, but Robin King explains what’s happening in sinister details. The book may feature a young supervillain, but it is not for kids. It definitely is a perfect comic to be released during October.
We even get to dig a little deeper into the character’s true feelings. We learn that although they’re both evils, Robin King isn’t like the Batman Who Laughs. Robin King has a goal, and he was clearly accomplishing them in his world. He seemingly was tricked by the Batman Who Laughs into becoming something that he is not. Robin King wants to be his own man and inspire others to do the same. This will definitely come back around in the Death Metal storyline.
The only complaint I really have is how did this Robin get so smart and skilled. We know how Bruce Wayne became Batman, and it wasn’t overnight. The Robin King kills multiple DC heroes and faces off against the Trinity(Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman) by himself. I would like to have seen some of his training or the story of how he illegally obtained his knowledge and abilities. We learn about all his murderous gadgets and special weapons, but where did he get them? A deeper dive into this background story would also have to include meeting Robin King’s Luscious Fox, which could be very interesting.
Overall I was very pleased with this comic. It’s fun, scary, and somewhat inspiring after a few not so exciting turns in the main Death Metal storyline. The Signal backup story is even interesting as it features a Batman Ra’s al Ghul composite. I give Robin King 4.5 out of 5 dead heroes and recommend it for Elseworlds and horror comic fans.