Review: Teen Titans Vol. 4: Robin No More trade paperback (DC Comics)


Robbie Thompson and Adam Glass' Teen Titans Vol. 4: Robin No More is another good one in this series. I’m sorry it’s coming to an end but I’m optimistic for Thompson’s post-Future State Suicide Squad and also that some of these Titans will appear in Tim Sheridan’s (also post-Future State) Teen Titans Academy.

Robin No More collects 10 issues, nine and an annual; it is long, so it’s not a fault necessarily that it feels long. I detect some repetition, however, which we might attribute to needing to wrap things up but having an excess of issues to fill for it (a better problem than the alternative). Still, Glass and Thompson’s “Titans gone bad” has been fascinating to watch all along and the final volume is no exception, especially given some great ambiguity as to what exactly does happen here.

On at least the first three covers of the new Teen Titans Academy series, I don’t see any of these Titans, which is a bummer, though I am optimistic that Crush and some of the other characters already seem to have a life after Future State.

[Review contains spoilers]

What we understand by the end of Robin No More is that Robin Damian Wayne has killed Brother Blood in order to continue his ill-conceived mission to spread fear in the hearts of criminals the way Batman supposedly never has. On one hand, among the book’s “big reveals” is that Robin committed the murder, after having led his fellow Titans through the investigation in order to show them the danger that Blood and others posed. On the other hand, notably Thompson does not show us the actual murder itself, nor even the body (short of a cover image) and that makes me skeptical.

[See the latest DC trade solicitations.]

Inasmuch as I applaud a Bat-character who’s not simply a cookie cutter of all the rest, that an actual Robin (and Batman’s biological son, to boot) has actually murdered a villain seems nigh unforgivable, not something that can just be swept under the rug. Further, I’m curious about the heavy lift it’ll take for now not-Robin Damian to be starring in his own Robin series in just a few short months, and without watering down Damian and making him wholly penitent either. To that end, the shortest route to tying it all up is that there’s more going on and that Damian didn’t kill Blood. At the same time Batman gives an impassioned speech here about loving his son and I’d hate for that to be fake and/or that Batman’s not a good enough detective to see through his son’s ruse.

To Thompson’s credit, he does make it all believable through the lens of this being tied to Alfred’s death in Batman: City of Bane. It’s proper that Damian’s suffering and it would have been unfortunate not to address it; though not stated explicitly, what we have here is a young teenager who saw a father figure murdered in front of him, and who might share in the blame even though it’s not his fault. That Damian, already on edge as is, should go a little nuts here is maybe the most believable thing. If nothing else, one direction upcoming Robin writer Joshua Williamson could go is to recognize that Damian was unique among members of the Bat-family in that he had two living parents and no trauma in his childhood (aside, of course, from being raised among the League of Assassins). Watching Alfred murdered negates both of those things and might again point to why Damian’s lapse could be more quickly forgiven.

Though not lacking in action by any means, the closing story offers a number of instances of the remaining Titans having heart-to-hearts, something that differentiated this series also in Glass' early issues. These Titans take as their mission now (at least pre-Titans Academy) to stop bad guys but in a “just” manner, making up for their harsher tactics under Damian earlier on. We’re informed of this mission a tad too much, the aforementioned repetitiveness, but at the same time it is legitimately the issue du jour the Titans are facing.

I’d be remiss without mentioning that in the initial “Djinn Wars” story, Glass and Thompson involve Jakeem Thunder, who knows of course a thing or two about genies. I’m pleased enough to see Jakeem to set aside the utter befuddlement of all of this, where Jakeem came from and what his history is and so on. One expects there might be some Justice Society material coming from DC relatively soon, but if not I’d be glad to see Jakeem in Teen Titans Academy too. His appearance was a nice surprise that happily wasn’t spoiled anywhere prior to this.

Impressively, Robin No More works with some fairly disparate art teams. Nightwing artist Javier Fernandez brings his nicely “sketchy” style and I’d be happy to see him again elsewhere; Fernandez reminds of this run’s initial artist, Bernard Chang. Eduardo Pansica does nice work in the annual and later on we see Jesus Merino; both of these artists draw in the DC house style but in a way that seems modern and appropriate for this book.



I recall being very skeptical of Adam Glass and Bernard Chang’s Titans run when it was first announced, with a couple new characters that seemed too faux cool and a Damian Wayne who looked weirdly aged up. Fortunately, those fears came to naught; what started after Justice League: No Justice and ended with Teen Titans Vol. 4: Robin No More is perhaps the best Titans run I’ve read in a while. Glass brought together old characters and fascinating new ones with echoes of classic Titans, and he treated these teen characters with a respect long lacking in Teen Titans books; their angst didn’t stem from melodrama or romantic entanglements (not too much), but rather the legitimate questions of good and evil, right and wrong that teen heroes might struggle with. I’m hopeful Tim Sheridan takes some cues from Glass and Robbie Thompson’s books, and that — if not selling gangbusters right now — this particular Titans run gets recognition for how good it was somewhere down the line.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Comments ( 2 )

  1. Some quibbles: Damian murdered Nobody at the start of Tomasi & Gleason’s brilliant Batman and Robin; Talia sort of has him, ah, murdered in Morrison’s Batman, Inc., which I would count as parental trauma.

    1. Yeah, I kind of thought someone would bring up Nobody. My thinking was, Nobody was self-defense-ish; I know, it's still Damian killing him when he didn't have to, but Brother Blood was (supposedly) hunting down and killing the guy apropos(ish) of nothing, whereas killing Nobody was at least an involved thing where Damian was involved.

      As for Talia, yes, I'd count that as "parental trauma" too, though I was thinking more in the line of Batman and all the preceding Robins having one or both parents killed (give or take a continuity).

      Batman and Robin Vol. 1: Born to Kill was brilliant!


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