With Detective Comics #47 the Robin War event enters its third chapter. This issue, like Grayson #15 released simultaneously, is not so much a crossover as a cut out. Both books completely interrupted their ongoing stories to accommodate Robin War, which raises interesting questions about how the story fits into the greater continuity of the Batman Universe. However, whereas Grayson #15 was the work of regular Grayson scribe Tom King, Detective Comics brought in a guest author, further emphasizing the interruption caused by the crossover. Ray Fawkes, author of Detective Comics #47, is well-known to Batman readers for his work on Batman Eternal and Gotham by Midnight. Fawkes’ talent definitely runs in the direction of horror and the supernatural, and while florid magic makes no appearance in this issue, a certain eerie atmosphere perfectly appropriate to the Court of Owls suffuses the story.
One of the strangest, but most powerful, images opens the issue as we see the Robins, betrayed into the hands of the police by the machinations of Dick Grayson, held captive in a series of giant bird cages. This site well with neither Harvey Bullock nor Jim Gordon, who as the current corporate-controlled Batman serves as the face of the city’s anti-Robin enforcement regime. Readers of Robin War will not be surprised that the holding ararea, evidently a new facility, is decorated with large owl motifs. The Robin War is being staged by the Court of Owls, and Grayson has unknowingly delivered his allies directly into the Court’s hands.
Gordon sets out in disgust to conduct his own investigation, only to run into Dick Grayson. Their interaction is very disappointing, and constitutes the biggest flaw in Detective Comics #47. Gordon shows no surprise at all in finding Grayson alive. Granted, the entire plot point of Dick’s supposed death has been badly managed by the Batman Office. Granted also that we do not know where this occurs in the overall continuity, and a first meeting between Gordon and Grayson might have already happened. But the nonchalance is striking. More striking yet is the absence of any sense of comradeship between what should, logically, be two old friends. And comradeship and cooperation is something they will badly need as the Robins attempt a breakout only to be foiled by the arrival of the Court and its Talons, now ready to reveal themselves as the masters of this particular pantomime.
This issue moves ROBIN WAR forward a solid step. But the missed character opportunities with Grayson and Gordon constitute a stumble from which Fawkes has no time to recover. Generally solid art from Steve Pugh and Chris Sotomayor along with a strong overall sense of progress carry the issue over the bump, but we have definitely seen ROBIN WAR take its first less-than-successful installment. It is up to WE ARE ROBIN to put things back on track.