A Review from Stephen Clark
When I was a kid, after 9PM or so, the Disney channel would switch from cartoons and live action preteen programming over to airing old black and white TV series, feel good family sitcoms and a few older movies. My favorite among these would be the old black and white Zorro episodes. Because of that, when my grandma and I went to go see ‘The Rugrats Movie’ and they were sold out, 9 year old Stephen suggested we watch ‘The Mask of Zorro’ instead. We did and my Mom was none too happy about it.
This comic, similar to the movie then, Mom wouldn’t have approved of a 9 year old reading. But not for any of the reasons I’d have seen coming.
Camp and avoiding the generic.
On the cover of the comic, it touts the 100 year anniversary of the character Zorro. He’s a product of his time in storytelling style and the world that those stories will be presented in. While reading the comic, the dialogue was one of the first things that stuck out. It came off…formal? Initially, this felt like possibly bad writing but I quickly began reading it like the black and white serial episodes from my childhood. I enjoyed it for the campy formulaic story that I remembered.
That is, until it departed from that in a BIG way. A nine foot tall eldritch monster kind of way.
This isn’t a bad thing. We’ve seen a bit of re-framing and fun happen around a lot of classic properties like the Archie comic crossovers with the Predator a couple years back. The monster in this Zorro comic was a jarring change, to be certain, but wasn’t for the worse. Again, stories are a product of their time, and monsters and the casual treatment of gore are certainly one of the defining characteristics of media in the last couple decades.
Storytelling through tropes
One of the first characters we meet in the comic is Mathias, a man with long white/blonde hair. He and his half brother are the leaders of a band of criminals who clearly have a lot more going on with their past and their different parentage is pointed in such a way that we know it’ll be a focus going forward.
The trope of the possibly supernatural sibling who looks really different from the rest of their family is one that fits well into this new supernatural Zorro world for me and I’m curious to see where that goes.
Art and presentation
The interior art of the comic suffers a bit from same-face-different-outfit qualities but doesn’t detract from the storytelling. The colors stand out as one of the best portions of the art on the page often, though I do think they could better incorporate shading present in the line work in some specific instances.
What started as a read that I had to find the enjoyment in, surprised me and subverted my expectation of what a Zorro comic could be. For a first issue, they sow good seeds that are sure to pay off later.
The character of Zorro inserted into a story that the original creator would have never written and does so without being a bad thing. A hard feat to achieve!
Overall Score: C+
Positives: An interesting take on an old character that still maintains itself well in that universe.
Negatives: A turn that won’t be for everyone and art that, at times, took away from the portrayal of the story.
A review copy of this issue was provided by the publisher American Mythology Productions find out more about this series at www.americanmythology.net
Here is a celebration of one of the Robins, Tim Drake, who first appeared back in August 1989 in Batman #436. It was a quaint appearance and I imagine most fans didn’t even look twice at the panels because the story was Batman Year Three and the focus was on the Post Crisis origin of Dick Grayson. From those humble beginnings Tim Drake has persevered as a character, gained quite a fan base, and even been considered the best Robin. Let us take a dive into the story of Tim Drake.
As I mentioned his first appearance was in a flashback of Year Three and it was in a photograph that would be the last picture of the Flying Graysons. This story arc took place well after A Killing Joke and A Death in the Family so many of the Bat Family members were taken out of the field. The editorial of the time was worried about introducing another Robin since things went so tragically bad with Jason Todd. There was a need for Robin but just how do you get him to be likeable and accepted by the fan base? There was no chance that Dick Grayson would go back as he was widely accepted as Nightwing. Enter Marv Wolfman and George Perez.
These two gentlemen had done wonders for the New Teen Titans and had transformed Dick Grayson into Nightwing. Marv came over and wrote all of Year Three, which had beautiful covers by George, which would lead perfectly into the next story arc, A Lonely Place of Dying. This would be the story that gives us a reason to want Tim Drake as Robin; when Jason became Robin he was stealing tires off the Batmobile, not too heroic a moment. Tim was introduced as a mysterious character and was quite the detective already; he had remembered the Flying Graysons moves and saw Robin using those and from that deduced that Bruce Wayne must be Batman.
In the story, A Lonely Place of Dying, the issues zig-zagged back and forth from Batman and the New Teen Titans issues. Tim had convinced Dick that Batman need Robin, but also some help. Dick came around to it, but just couldn’t go back to being Robin yet he would still help Batman on the case. The case would pick the original Dynamic Duo against Two-Face; who would eventually trap both Batman and Nightwing, so who would save them? Robin would come to the rescue and prove that Robin was needed and Tim could rise to the challenge.
Tim becoming Robin made some major changes to the way the character was perceived. Tim would go on to change the costume bringing in some armor and a new design, computer and detective skills, along with martial arts ability since he had done some training. Tim sadly wasn’t able to avoid the curse that most vigilantes have…losing loved ones. Even before he became Robin he had lost his mother, Janet Drake, to the Obeah Man after she was poisoned in Detective Comics #621 and the story also led to his father, Jack Drake, being paralyzed.
Jack Drake would continue to be a guiding light and sometimes a troubling element in Tim’s life, but the bond of father and son was strong with the two. Years later there would be another story that would affect the DC Universe and Tim Drake himself, Identity Crisis. In Identity Crisis, Tim would be forced to listen in on his father’s emergency call to Oracle and how he had to defend himself from Captain Boomerang; these pages were very intense and it was a sad moment that Tim would find himself too late to stop. Jack did go on to remarry and this would give Tim a step mom in Dana Winters-Drake; sadly after Jack’s death she went in for treatment at a clinic in Bludhaven. Now we have been led to believe that she died there, but writer Fabian Nicieza says otherwise.
Tim has gone onto many other great comics in his time; having had his own successful Robin solo series, leading Young Justice, joining the Teen Titans, and eventually becoming Red Robin. As the Red Robin he did hold faith that Bruce Wayne was still alive and was proven correct with Bruce’s return; along with that he managed to stop Ra’s Al Ghul and earn his respect. Tim currently serves with Young Justice by Brian Michael Bendis and has a new costume and is called the Drake. Here are a couple of stories that I would recommend you check out. Also if you have any other stories you wish to share feel free to leave a relpy here or on our social media outlets as well. Always remember to GEEK OUT!
Batman Year Three: Batman #436-439
A Lonely Place of Dying: Batman #440-442, New Teen Titans #60-61
Identity Crisis #5-6
Red Robin #1-12