Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Brotherhood of the Fist Part 3: ROBIN #55

The deadly Monkey Fist cult has dispatched assassins all over the world to kill Green Arrow and basically anyone with a martial arts background.  Connor Hawke and Batman barely survived an encounter when an avalanche buried them in the mountains outside Gotham.  Former government agent Eddie Fyers related what he knew about the cult to Nightwing and Robin, and Bronze Tiger saved Black Canary from a Monkey attack.  The two are now working together.

Robin #55: "Brotherhood of the Fist Part 3: Monkey Fist" was written by Chuck Dixon, with art by Will Rosado, inks by Stan Woch, and colors by Adrienne Roy.  I can't read the signature of the cover artist, and it's not credited inside so it might be Rosado.  It looks nothing like the interior art, though.  The cover is awful.  Any comparisons I can think of feel like insults to Bobble-Head Dolls or whatever else.  I would look at this cover and never, ever, ever buy this comic except that it's part three of the crossover.

Anyway, Batman and Connor Hawke are stranded in the snow-covered wilderness.  At least, Connor thinks they're stranded.  Batman doesn't get stranded; he's always prepared, right?

How does Batman know the Monkey Fist is targeting every martial artist?  He's been incommunicado with all of the other characters that were attacked.

Far from Gotham, the Sensei of the Monkeys is dismayed that Eddie Fyers is killing so many of his warriors because Fyers uses guns.  So the Sensei hires someone with a gun--Deathstroke, the Terminator--to take out Fyers when he comes for the Sensei.

Later, back in Gotham, the titular hero of this comic, Robin, is on patrol with Connor Hawke, who has taken up with Batman's circle of crime fighters until the monkey business (couldn't help it) is sorted out.  Robin and Connor save a hostage from some street thugs, and then they discuss the damage the earthquake caused to the city, unaware that more Monkey cultists are following them.

Batman goes to see Oracle to find out what she's learned about the Monkey Fist.  She offers the data, but won't tell him where she's getting it from.

Right after Batman leaves, Oracle makes contact with her source--Black Canary.

Black Canary doesn't tell Oracle she's working with Bronze Tiger, but doesn't tell Ben who she was talking to either.  Keeping both of her worlds separate, perhaps?  Bronze Tiger recalls his adjacent connection to Oracle from his Suicide Squad days.

This little scene tickles me.  I accept and expect that Dinah is just playing the part of good intel operative and compartmentalizing her worlds.  Oracle and Bronze Tiger don't need to know of each other right now; this is a security measure for her.  On the other hand, there's a little part of me that wonders if--between the pages--something sexual was going on between Dinah and Ben during this little continent-jumping search for answers.  I've always thought that Canary and Tiger would make an interesting and exciting couple.  Maybe not in the long term, but they have enough in common that a romantic dalliance wouldn't be unexpected or unwanted.

Batman, Nightwing, and Connor meet with Eddie Fyers so Batman can tell the man to get the hell out of his city.  Before leaving, Fyers reveals something he knows about the organizational structure of the Monkeys.  There are different schools and disciplines, and different numbers of members based on how skilled and masterful the school is.  This explains why there is one Silver Monkey who is one of the deadliest fighters in the world, but the Emerald or Bronze Monkeys get mowed down effortlessly by the heroes.

Elsewhere in the city, the mysterious Paper Monkey declares her intentions to fight Connor Hawke in single combat to restore the honor of the Brotherhood.  She tells her underlings to keep Batman and his partners distracted, but insists that no one is to harm Robin else she will kill him.

Speaking of Robin--since this is supposed to be his book--he and Connor are out patrolling again, talking about learning to drive and things like that.  Connor asks Tim if Batman is his father.

Obsidian Monkeys are stalking Connor and Robin, but before they can attack, the Paper Monkey backs up her previous declaration.

Before killing the last of the Obsidians, Paper Monkey makes clear that she is not in Gotham at the behest of the Brotherhood's sensei.  She is here on her own with her own agenda.  Who is this woman?  Why does she have a personal beef against  Robin?  And what will happen when she faces Connor?  Maybe those answers will be revealed in Part 4 tomorrow!

Overall, this was another good issue, but not as strong as the previous two.  Will Rosado's art is too cartoonish for the heavy themes and seriousness of this story.  For all that this is an issue of Robin, Tim Drake only appears in like five and a half pages.  When he does appear, though, he offers some nice insight into Batman and how Batman respects Connor Hawke's ability even if he would never say it.

Two more major players were introduced in this issue: Deathstroke and Paper Monkey, whose identity will be revealed later for anyone who couldn't guess who she is.  But Deathstroke's inclusion feels more or less like an afterthought, and assigning him the role of bodyguard and waiting for a nobody like Eddie Fyers to show up looking for the Sensei feels beneath his character.  And I'm not even a Deathstroke fan.

I love the pairing of Black Canary and Bronze Tiger, but they only get two pages and not much to do in this issue.  I wish there was more of these two together in the future.

Come back tomorrow for Part 4 in Nightwing #23.

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