On the one hand, it’s nice that Scott Snyder didn’t write this particular special issue. On the other, this is the sort of issue put together in such a way to make me outright hate everything about it.
And I think it’s supposed to be funny.
Issue: Dark Nights: Death Metal Robin King #1, October 2020
Writers: Peter J. Tomasi and Tony Patrick
Artists: Daniel Sampere and Riley Rossmo
The Plot: The Robin King’s backstory and how he fell in with the Batman Who Laughs is revealed.
Commentary: I won’t pretend to know how other fans feel, but the Robin King reminds me quite a bit of Superboy-Prime, and Superboy-Prime was, for me, a very frustrating character, He would just show up and plow through any and every hero in his path, often without showing any real effort, making experienced and potent heroes look like chumps, and complaining and whining the whole time about how these heroes weren’t heroes or they were ruining everything and he didn’t mean to do it and all he wanted was his old world back. I could do without Superboy-Prime under most circumstances, and it does strike me as curious that over in the main Death Metal series that Superboy-Prime may be on the path to redemption.
That said, I do get the idea that Superboy-Prime is at least intended to be something like commentary on a certain sort of DC fan, the ones that don’t like how new comics are nothing like the old comics they used to read. The reader isn’t supposed to find Superboy-Prime to be cool, and I wouldn’t put it past Geoff Johns to create a character that’s a commentary on the readers. I mean, that’s the man who gave us Doomsday Clock, a book that seems to exist to comment on the very concept of DC continuity. So, yeah, I think Superboy-Prime at least sometimes is to be treated as something of a joke, and at least some of his kills were accidents when he didn’t know his own strength.
The Robin King…not so much. Everything about him might be a joke, but it’s a very dark joke, and it isn’t one to my taste. The Robin King is a juvenile Bruce Wayne, one who took the robin for his symbol because robins are the most numerous of all songbirds because they go around killing competition from other birds. As such, the Robin King has a utility belt that contains a way to kill each and every superhero on any Earth. And yeah, the issue shows him killing a number of heroes both on his world and the Prime Earth. If anything, I’ll give props to the book for showing some really interesting choices for the Robin King to murder. I mean, he takes down the Balloon Buster and the Enemy Ace on his world…a pair of World War I era characters who fought on opposing sides.
But really, watching some maniacal kid jump around and take down superheroes without even breaking a sweat, and even bringing out a trio of rings to punch the DC Trinity to death with (one kryptonite, one an anti-god metal, and one a pearl from a certain necklace), doesn’t really do much for me. At this point, I am so over all the Dark Multiverse Batmen being so impossible to beat. Even the real Batman has to actually work to save the day, and he’s not unstoppable. Let the good guys beat some of these clowns!
Well, that’s all I have to say about that. There’s a back-up story here involving the various Robins taking down another Dark Batman, and at least there the good guys win. But small murderous children aren’t really my thing.