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ROBIN: YEAR ONE (2001)

Writers: Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty, Artist: Javier Pulido

What Frank Miller did for Batman, Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty did for Robin.

Many readers of the Batman stories associate Dixon with Tim Drake, Robin No. 3, whom Dixon brought out from under the shadow of the Bat and made a unique character all on his own. Dixon gave his Robin a high profile neither Dick Grayson nor Jason Todd enjoyed during their days in the red-and-green pixie suit.

Dixon also helped Dick Grayson take center stage as Nightwing, making a key DC player out of a character often relegated to the background of other books.

But Dixon likewise did good service to Grayson in Robin: Year One, a book that redefined his early adventures as Batman's colorful, wisecracking sidekick. Robin is still new at the heroing business. Alfred still disapproves of Batman's young partner. Jim Gordon, too, questions Robin's youth and vows to bring Batman down if the boy is injured. And Batman himself is forced to confront that unrealized fear -- that the boy could be hurt, even killed, while assisting him.

Meanwhile, Robin is finding his own way, avoiding the grim path followed by his mentor. The product of an equally tragic past, Dick Grayson managed to bounce back and find joy in the world in a way rarely seen in Bruce Wayne. But here, too, we see the anguish a young person can suffer in the face of perceived failure and rejection.

Teen angst? Maybe a touch. But you can forgive Dick when you see his early exposures to the Mad Hatter, Blockbuster, Mr. Freeze and, in particular, Two-Face. See some of the early choices he's forced to make; witness his first exposure to death while in his heroic mode.

This is a great story that should appeal to all Batman and Robin fans. Robin: Year One shows a side of the first Robin that has never before been seen -- and you'd do well to take a look.