Well, I'm not sure I know what all the fuss was about. Adam Beechen's Robin, premiering in Robin: Wanted is very solidly done, and after the first trade, probably the best written (or at least, the least objectionable) since Chuck Dixon. Of course, I get where the whole Batgirl-gone-crazy controversy may have put some people off, but in all, for what I can only consider to be a poor editorial idea, I think Beechen framed it quite well, following in line with what Andersen Gabrych began in Batgirl: Destruction's Daughter (see the Collected Editions review here).
Beechen's Tim Drake feels immediately more natural than the "hipster cool" voice with which the character was written by Jon Lewis, and without the jarring pacing and supernatural elements in Bill Willingham's run. In just the first two chapters, Tim gets framed for murder and must break in to -- and out of -- police headquarters. There's a fantastic, frenetic pace to the stories that feels youthful, while at the same time perfectly grounded in the overall Batman universe. Robin is depicted here as both a hero and a detective befitting both his time on the job and his status as leader of the Teen Titans, and it's refreshing to see that portrayal in his own title.
One can discern from various interviews (one at Comic Book Resources) that plans for the Batgirl character, Cassandra Cain, were neither entirely Andersen Gabrych's nor Adam Beechen's. I applauded Gabrych for making Batgirl's turn to madness emotionally gripping, at least. In Wanted, Beechen offers another plausible reason for Batgirl's turn to evil, the revelation of a sister she never knew she had, leading her to believe that her father Cain though of her as replaceable, and that Batman believes Robin replaceable, too. Beechen smartly gives weight to Batgirl's claims by making Robin momentarily doubt his relationship with Batman, even as he knows his fears are groundless. What follows is a preciously awkward scene between Batman and Robin that showed a markedly different Batman in DC Comic's post-Infinite Crisis era.
The final two chapters of the trade would be a classic heroes-misunderstand-and-then-team-up story, if not for the fact that the new Captain Boomerang's father murdered Tim Drake's. Beechen avoids melodrama here, and frames the story within perfect sidekick fare -- Robin and Boomerang go on a scavenger hunt not after villains, but after abandoned villain hideouts -- letting the conflict between the two heroes unfold naturally. They end not as friends, but with Robin offering Boomerang the grudging respect that the reader can see Boomerang deserves.
Robin is a character that, through his most recent incarnations, has built up a lot of angst, but Beechen instead portrays him as a mostly rational young adult. Beechen, frankly, brings a lot of common sense to Robin that feels like it's been missing. Unfortunately, Beechen's only sticking around for the next Robin trade paperback before handing the title off to another writer, but hopefully the tone he's set in this DC "One Year Later" trade paperback will stick around after he's gone.
[Contains full covers. "One Year Later" mentioned on back.]
Our One Year Later jaunt continues with JSA, Checkmate, and more. Any requests?