Robin War, DC’s new event series about the army of teens running around Gotham in the name of Batman’s sidekick, is pretty much all about the identity of Robin, and what it means to take on that mantle—but for one Robin in particular, Dick Grayson, it seems like it’s all about another particular mantle.
Spoilers ahead for Robin War #1, by Tom King, Khary Randolph, Alain Mauricet, Jorge Corona, Andres Guinaldo, Walden Wong, Emilio Lopez, Chris Sotomayor, Gabe Eltaeb, and Sandra Molina.
So what kicks off the war in the title? Well, it turns out it’s the fault of that new gang of Robins’ fault from the We Are Robin series. A bad intervention in a liquor store robbery sees an untrained miscellaneous Robin accidentally shoot and kill both the assailant and a police officer on the scene.
Naturally, the people of Gotham don’t respond well, especially its cuncilwoman, who hastily drafts a (quite frankly ridiculous) “Robin Law” that doesn’t just outlaw vigilantes acting under the Robin name, but pretty much every sort of possible paraphernalia associated with Robin. Teens get arrested for having posters of the original Robins, or the “R” emblem on their shirts. Anyone looking even mildly Robin-ish gets major heat from Gotham PD—especially Duke Thomas, one of the protagonists of the ongoing We Are Robin series, who gets picked up by an overzealous cop just for having Robin-red shoes on. It’sa very silly law.
But it’s one that doesn’t just affect the army of Robins—it affects the actual Robins as well. The first to hear about it are Jason Todd and Tim Drake, who have of course long since moved on from their respective times as boy wonders. Jason is, of course, now the Red Hood, and Tim himself has evolved from Robin to the Red Robin. Later on, they’re joined by the other two Robins: Dick, who’s moved on from Nightwing and become a spy... and Damien Wayne, who is not particularly pleased at the thought of a bunch of untrained kids taking his identity.
It leads to some fun moments as the “Real” Robins try to process and understand this new movement made in their former names. While Damien is pissed, Dick is the most gung-ho about the Robin army.;Tim is a bit more reserved, and the typically angry Jason wants them all to fight back against Gotham’s new crackdown. It even leads to a particularly great moment where, having busted on a meeting of the Robins, Damien comes face to face with Jim Gordon’s new Batman for the first time:
It’s pretty good!
But Robin War quickly reveals that there’s something a bit more sinister to the Robin Laws. Councilwoman Noctua, the woman who introduced the laws, is actually working with a shadowy benefactor, who turn out to be none other than the Court of Owls, the ancient organization who’ve been a part of Gotham, and a repeated thorn in Batman’s side for a while now. The weird thing is that the Owls don’t seemingly just want to wipe out the Robins, either the teens or the former “actual” Robins... they want to do something specifically to Dick Grayson:
Something that seemingly teases that Dick might be returning to his Nightwing identity soon enough—little more than a year after Dick cast aside his superhero persona to become a spy. But why the hell does the Court want Nightwing back so desperately? Do they want to christen a new Nightwing in Dick’s stead? Are they secretly a bunch of comic book fans who grew up loving Nightwing, an identity Dick is much more closely associated with these days than Robin itself?
This being comic books, it could just be a one-time thing for the Robin War event. But it seems like Nightwing might be making a return to the DC Universe a lot sooner than most people expected.