One of the enduring truths of the Batverse is that Batman needs a Robin. Now that Tim is out of the game, who is going to fill the pixie pants? Batman, as ever, insists that he doesn’t need a Robin and everyone is somewhat surprised when he takes Stephanie Brown on as the new Robin. This is particularly true given that previously he emphatically told Stephanie to quit being Spoiler and stay off his streets. However, when she defies him and continues being Spoiler he’s impressed and decides that if she’s going to be a vigilante will-he-or-nil-he then at least as Robin she’ll be under his supervision. He gives her a strict probation period and a new Robin suit. Alfred thinks he’s using Stephanie to lure Tim back, and Oracle thinks he’s being unnecessarily cruel to Tim, but Stephanie is having the time of her life until her enthusiasm gets the better of her and she disobeys a direct order from Batman and he fires her.
It’s an interesting volume. Mostly it’s a set up for the War Games trilogy, but it’s a valid and complete story in its own right, nor do you have to have read it to follow War Games. I do have serious issues with what Willingham did with some of the characters, particularly Stephanie Brown. On the other hand, I think he does a good job with Tim and showing that just because he isn’t Robin anymore doesn’t mean that it’s easy for him, or that he’s stopped thinking like Robin. I like his Batman, who is creepy and all about the mission and doesn’t care that his vision might hurt people because the mission comes first. I had mixed feelings about the artwork, and again a lot of that has to do with how Stephanie got portrayed. She ended up bustier and bouncier here that I really think is necessary, and people frequently looked cuter than I associate with the Bat family but none of it bothered me unduly.
Batman: War Drums
By Bill Willingham and Andersen Gabrych
Art by Pete Woods, Damion Scott, Brad Walker, Cam Smith and Troy Nixey
DC Comics 2004