If DC puts Cassie’s character (and possibly Kon and Bart’s too) in limbo because of Young Justice (2019)’s cancellation, I think I’ll cry. (BC we all know that Tim won’t be in character limbo bc of *~Bat stuff~*)
I mean my bets are that they’re planning on relaunching Teen Titans again (since that also got cancelled). And, they’ll just include the Core 4 in that, but honestly who knows???? Like, I think I read somewhere that they were gonna re-launch anything in 2021, but I could be wrong?? But, I just don’t wanna see the buildup with her character go to waste bc we got a lot last issue!! Like, honestly I could see this spinning off into her own series, but I doubt DC would do that bc the original Cassie Wondergirl series didn’t do very well,,,,
But, out of the pre-established characters, she’s the one I’m the most worried about bc at least Kon has the current Action Comics storyline, which I feel like is setting up for him to be featured in that book more?? And, Bart was just a big player in the last Flash storyline I believe?? (I could be wrong I don’t really read Flash, but I remember seeing stuff about it?) And, Tim has Batman AND Detective Comics to appear in, and he definitely will be in at least one after restoring his role as Robin. But, Cassie idk??? Unless, they find a way to include her in the Wonder Woman comics then she’s probs gonna be in main continuity limbo for awhile. I mean ik she’s in DCeased, but that’s an AU :((
It’s been a while since I done one of these. It’s probably been since last year or so. This isn’t so much of a formal review where I try my best to explain why something doesn’t work, with tons of back references, or interviews, and contexts, and such. I might do some of that, but I’m mostly just writing this along the same time I continue to read it.
I’ve already done the first two issues, and if I can I’ll link them in the post somewhere.
Basically, this series gets about everything wrong about the returning Core Four for this reboot. They made Cassie the tomboy a “girly” thief, Conner the punky flirt a creepy emotionally numb stalker, Tim the insecure dork a super genius that blew up part of a freaking skyscraper, and Bart the teen with an attention span problem into an arrogant jerkwad loudmouth.
With the origins later given in the series, the boys are revealed to not reaally be the characters we knew at all in a more literal sense. This Conner is a clone of an alternate version of Jon, not Clark and Lex. This Tim Drake, is literally only Tim Drake in name only, as that’s the name this teen got in witness protection. And this Bart Allen, isn’t even related to Barry.
So these are versions of the characters that are them in literally name only, bar Cassie (sadly). Although, they’d later retconned Tim’s origin back (which doesn’t make sense). But what else can I compare them to but the originals?
A really common criticism of this series, and one that’s pretty dang valid in my opinion. Is just how unlikable everyone is– or at least the Core Four, because I feel like we can all be honest and say that most people just read this for the Core Four, and sometimes Bunker. (Like Bart’s condescending here. Like “I’m Kid Flash, girl.” Maybe I’m just reading it too 1940s, but it comes off as really dickish.)
I mean seriously, how many people do you know talk abut Skitter? The original characters that Lobdell came up with are really hit and miss for me, mostly miss. Because I find Skitter so forgettable, that even though I’ve read the first few issues of this series just for entertainment value, I still forget she exists. She could’ve been so much more interesting, but he just doesn’t give her much.
To me, a good character has a personality that you can notice, grab onto, and have lots of unique stories with, that simply work, not even because it causes a great drama, but just because the perspective the character will have in any situation depending on the circumstance will be interesting.
Which is one of the reasons why I find Tim an interesting character, because his perspective is one that’s very interactive with any given circumstances but will still work for me. An insecure, super hero fanboy, that’s doing his best to be brave, but is secretly scared, with the cleverness to do things, but the anxiety that he can’t. Which the circumstances they give him, like having to make sure he proves he should be Robin, having parents at home, not feeling like he’s good enough, constantly seeing others better them him. It’ll just make him an interesting perspective to read from that won’t get too repetitive in any way that interferes with the enjoyment, because there’s a lot of levels you can take his harsh feelings, or things to interact with, that it won’t always be predictable what’s going to happen with him, and you want to read to see more.
With this series and quite a bunch of other original characters made, they have soap opera writing. Which works with fleshed out characters like the iconic 80s incarnation of the Teen Titans, but when the new characters don’t have a well-formed personality that you can really grab onto and gain constant interest and intrigue from, you just have a lame duck.
When your main character’s traits are “I’m angsty and sad”. No one is going to be able to invest themselves with that. They need to be more third dimensional and genuine to make them a character you want to pick up each issue for.
This series even with the old characters fails at that, by making them into absolute butchered heaps of rotted rump rather than their full personalities.
At least the art is pretty creative early on in it’s second page, I will give it that.
Then there’s Bunker–
–who I really want to like, but just can’t find myself enjoying.
A lot of these characters I’m unfamiliar with I want to like. They’re minority characters with very interesting concepts, but writing so flat that it ruins any chance of paying attention to them. A common curse when it comes to POC and a bad writer like Lobdell.
But Bunker actually has a personality, but the reason why I can’t find myself attaching myself to him is because he feels like an uncomfortable stereotype character. An outdated one that you’d see in the 80s or 90s to either seem inclusive or use as a joke rather than a true deal character.
Bunker is a flamboyant, religious, fashion involved, gay, Latino. Something that feels like you’d really bet he wouldn’t be if he wasn’t gay or Latino, because it’s just all based in stereotypes. Like if the pages weren’t colored, and you didn’t have the context he was gay, you’d probably still guess what he’s supposed to be just because of how much they involve stereotypes with him.
However, despite the stereotypes, he is the one most people can remember from this series beyond the core four, because he at least has a personality, and they actually try to build up a unique mystery to him, that would make you want to continue to know them.
And there is something about his confidence and religious beliefs, and determination that does feel very genuine, and makes you actually like him despite the stereotypes.
You want to know what makes you able to tell he’s a better made character than the other relatively new, to straight up new characters? You can actually talk about him, and have a lot more to say about them then his backstory, two personality traits, and angst. Even if his personality seems limited at first, they still write it in a way that’s genuine enough that you can get more out of it, a lot like what I was describing with Tim earlier.
He still feels like a character that you could write a solo about, and with a good enough writer and personal life, would actually make for a very rereadable series, because you just enjoy seeing him on his journey, because it won’t always be the same exact things. He has loyal personality traits about him, but depending on his circumstances, it won’t be the same side of him you’re seeing, and it won’t feel contrived. He has potential to become a true third dimensional character, and not one that just feels like he looks like one, but isn’t really.
But that depends on where the writing goes with him– and I can’t remember where it goes. But take away the dated stereotypes and there’s actual good potential with Bunker. Making your character feel like another decade’s minority caricature is kind of a turn off when it comes to feeling comfortable reading them.
Which is why some don’t tend to like him.
There’s not a lot to say about this quick page of Cassie, besides the fact they make her come across as apathetic and nuts. She’s also mildly sexualized given it looks like she’s posing for a fashion shoot and not just closing a door, which feels pretty typical of the team that made this book.
And because of Lobdell’s bizarre writing and tone changes, I don’t know if this is supposed to be taken as serious or comedy, because of how abrupt it is, and how a fight broke out right after and we find out the old guy is Tim somehow convincing someone he isn’t like– 15? I think he’d be either 14 or 15, not because that’s how Lobdell intended him to be, because I believe in a now lost interview he said Tim was “probably” 16 or 17. However, they didn’t settle on Tim’s age till Damian was near thirteen, meaning Tim would’ve been either fourteen or fifteen here, depending if Damian was eleven as I remember, or ten at the start of the New 52.
And here’s some more out of character Tim, because New 52 is what you get when you skim through Red Robin without any context, and being edgy is still really popular with the teenage demographic at the time.
This is a Tim that blew up a building, is an incel towards Cassie, and is overall an arrogant prick.
How Lobdell thought anyone thought any of a good idea is beyond me, but I figure he’s just not self-aware enough to realize that he just made one of the most unlikable protagonists I’ve ever seen, and absolutely bastardized who was once a mega-fan-favorite.
Although, this is pretty cute and in-character. It’s something that definitely fits in with a classic Tim comic, but down let this make you think Lobdell knows how to write Tim, because he makes it really obvious all the time that he doesn’t really.
And that’s basically everything relevant that happens in this issue– not a lot when you actually read it, and not just me spouting off the proverbial mouth as I try my best to mentally process this freaking comic.
Conner doesn’t even show up, most likely because he was the only one with a solo, that Lobdell was also writing (you can probably guess accurately what the quality of that was too).
A lot of it is just more of the same, and it’s tedious, although it’s tedious nature is not so much on Lobdell, as he’s said in interviews before that it was editorial or a publisher (I can’t remember to be honest) that made him not have them previously know each other. So he had to work from that.
Which goes to show just how much DC knows how their characters and teams work, given the reason why Young Justice worked so well was because Tim, Conner, and Bart, already had stories where they duo’d up, and teamed up before they were even official. Which allowed them to have a preconceived friendship, they could build dynamics that were naturally built off of their unique personalities, which made everything feel natural and good to go when they did have an official team comic.
Here you have a Tim, that’s supposed to be very much a rookie of only one year, acting like he’s the greatest protégé talent ever, searching out for metahumans and coincidentally running into them, just to make some kind of story that would explain them being together for a team.
I’m not saying they have to redo the duo stuff again, because I’m pretty sure most readers already know their dynamics, and as for new readers, it doesn’t take a lot of time to say “We’re just good friends that like hanging out” does it? They have issue zeroes for each comic for a reason, they could’ve easily had a nice summary there if they wanted.
New 52′s obsession with trying to fit everything they can in, but have everyone still be relatively new, made everything a mess.
Like isn’t it weird that Superman only started being a super hero FOUR YEARS before Tim was? Doesn’t that sound entirely too squeezed in?
Then because they messed with the characters so much it works less for old readers as well. Like they have Tim, only a year in, acting like all the out of character elements of Red Robin, with an origin that’s a Bizarro styled mirror of his original one, with nothing that made him the popular character he used to be.
Same for the others.
New 52 is partially scary, because it shows just how little they know about what made them work.
I’m not against reboots in comics as a concept, they do need some modernization, and clean-ups every now and again, but you have to keep what works in there, or else the reboot will be a total failure. And paint-jobs and fan service like Rebirth aren’t gonna work either, when the heart of it all is still just so bad.
All this is a lot easier to say in hindsight, but DC Comics really has to work towards remembering their mistakes if they actually want to get better again. They’re doing a bit better at it, as forced and contrived as it can be sometimes. So they are getting somewhere.
But this is only the start of a Didio-less era. Looking like good things are coming, and little presents that truly make it seem true, is something that’s only going to last for a little bit. They have to still do the work, and learn what worked for their characters in the first place, and reremember who they all are.
Otherwise sales will just get worse again.
But I’m genuinely hoping they’ll at least begin to learn from mistakes. No one gets a win otherwise.
Oh, and he’s the entirety of the fight advertised on the cover. “Red Robin vs. Bunker”.
They stop fighting right after this.
It’s the comic book equivalent of clickbait if I’ve ever seen it in my entire life.
Summary: Knowing that something was wrong, Tim really should have said something to Kon instead of letting him enter the training stimulator. It looks like their communication still needs to be worked on after all.
“Well, that was easier than expected.” Tim grins as he walks
out of the stimulator. From where they had been watching behind the window, his
friends stare at him with deadpan expressions.
“Easy huh?” Cassie comments raising an eyebrow. “Alright Mr.
Tough Guy, next time we’ll notch it up two levels and we’ll see how easy
“Sounds great.” Tim smiles and walks over to the controls.
He starts changing and adapting them for Cassie’s turn. “Alright, Wonder Girl,
you’re up next. Ready when you are.” Cassie snorts and enters the training
stimulator and Tim moves to stand by the window where Kon and Bart were
awaiting their goes.