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Before I start this retro comic book review of Robin III #3, let me explain that the illustrator of the comic book, Tom Lyle, passed away last November over health-related reasons. Before dying, he had a surgery in October 2019 to remove a blood clot in his brain and subsequently fell into a coma. Apart from drawing comics, Tom Lyle was a professor of art at Georgia’s Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). For a look at Lyle’s expertise, watch the video from 2017 below.
When it comes to the comic book industry, Lyle started his career with AC Comics and Eclipse Comics back in the 1980s. In 1988, he worked on the art of Starman for DC Comics and went on to work on the company’s other properties and played a major role with the publishing of the three mini-series featuring Batman’s sidekick Robin (Tim Drake specifically).
After leaving DC Comics, he joined Marvel Comics as one of their illustrators on the Spider-Man monthly series. He quickly got involved in the Maximum Carnage crossover and made bigger waves with Spider-Man readers with the Clone Saga. Lyle is widely credited for designing the Scarlet Spider. With regards to his death, Marvel Comics published online a tribute for him.
Now that the short history lesson is over, let’s take a look back at Robin III #3 published by DC Comics in 1993 with a story by Chuck Dixon and art by Tom Lyle.
The story begins in school where Tim Drake/Robin gets confronted by his superior who noticed the bruises he got. As Tim tries to keep his secrets, the superior Ms. Hollingsworth knows that he was cared for by Bruce Wayne (Batman) while his father was in a coma. She also knows that he lives on a property bordering the estate of Wayne. She makes clear that he can speak openly to her and Tim simply denies that Bruce would never hit him. He states: “An upperclassman…a senior…I think…big kid.”
Eventually the meeting ended and Tim leaves struggling over thinking about the complications he is experiencing with his double life as a student and as a crime fighter. Since he cannot get involved with Batman and Alfred, he spends some time with Harold (who was so busy working on a machine) and eventually goes home. His father notices Tim’s bruises and states that he spends too much time at Wayne’s. This leaves Tim more conflicted within.
Elsewhere, a muscular man called Sir Edmund easily beats up his loyal followers in a bout of combat. His assistant Lynx arrives and informs him that their turf is in danger with the arrival of Russians with KGBeast involved.
In the evening, Robin meets the Huntress and start their next mission…
For a story set within the realm of Batman and, at the same time, does not have Batman at all, this Robin-centered comic book is well written and engaging. To say the least, showing Tim Drake struggling with his civilian life and crime-fighting life made Robin a literary symbol about the false maturity that youth in real life often experience. That false maturity is nicely portrayed with the superhero aesthetics and fantasy elements.
Quite predictably, Robin performs detective work and analyzes crime situations like Batman only this time, he gets involved with the Huntress (note: this mini-series carries the storyline title of “Cry of the Huntress”) to find out more answers and solve the crime problem. Being a product of the early 1990s, it is no surprise that the story has fictional portrayals about the Russians (with KGBeast leading the so-called invasion of the city) and even mentioning Afghans.
Apart from the storytelling, the art by Tom Lyle here remains good to look at. Each scene, whether is it a talking scene or an action scene, looks good and Lyle has a nice touch on drawing facial expressions. When it comes to the spectacle, Lyle really shows how good he is with drawing hard-hitting physical action. I should also state how smooth the sequencing of action is drawn by him.
To make things clear, Robin III #3 is the first-ever Tom Lyle-drawn comic book I ever bought and read. By today’s standards, the comic book is still fun to read and it is compelling enough to make readers interested to read more of the mini-series. However, if seeing more of Robin fighting crime by himself is your type of Robin story, then this may not be compelling for you.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Robin III #3, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition and the newsstand edition of the direct version costs $4 and $6 respectively. Meanwhile, the near-mint copy of the bagged edition and the unbagged edition of the deluxe version costs $4. To be clear, the deluxe version of Robin III #3 in bagged form comes with a moving cover, a second reversible cover and additional artwork.
Overall, Robin III #3 is recommended.
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