A Look Back at Robin III #3

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

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.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

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…

Quality

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Hard action with a smooth flow of sequence by Tom Lyle.

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.

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Hurting Robin on the head led to hard reactions.

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.

Conclusion

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Robin and the Huntress make an odd crime-fighting duo.

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.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Birds of Prey

As I mentioned before, I never read a single comic book about Birds of Prey. Apart from previously knowing Harley Quinn, Black Canary (from the 1980s specifically) and Huntress (from the 1990s), I had minimal knowledge of the DC Comics’ title as well as modest expectations entering the cinema yesterday to watch Birds of Prey: and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn which is the latest superhero production from Warner Bros.

Right now, I’m happy to share to you that the R-rated movie proved to be a fun-filled watch and is proof that the DC Comics Cinematic Universe is still moving forward (in terms of engagement, enjoyment and creativity) towards greatness.

Here is my movie review of Birds of Prey.

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Early Story

The story begins with a look into the past of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) moving forward until her breakup with the supervillain Joker (don’t expect to see Jared Leto’s image). Through narration and clever visuals, Harley is now living a new life. Along the way, there is a club within Gotham City bustling with life which Harley haves fun at and eventually she encounters the club owner Roman/Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) who is not what he seems. After getting drunk and becoming vulnerable to men with sinister intentions, Dinah/Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), who sings at the club, comes to her rescue. After recovering, Harley moves on to destroy a huge facility of Ace Chemicals which further sets events off…

Quality

While the screenplay by Christina Hodson (Bumblebee) lacked storytelling depth and character development, director Cathy Yan and her team still managed to craft a superhero film that was fun, action-packed and, surprisingly, not too reliant on computer-generated visual effects.

To make up for the lack of story depth, the movie relied mainly on the performances of the actors to bring their characters to life. Margot Robbie really excelled in playing Harley Quinn inside and out. While this latest cinematic portrayal does not have Harley insane, she’s still crazier than in Suicide Squad. Robbie’s act this time is more creative, more adulterated (which is the way the go), more daring with action and also more comedic. From this point on, I should say that Warner Bros. should rehire Robbie to play Harley Quinn in even more DC Comics movies.

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Here come the ladies: Renee Montoya, Huntress, Harley Quinn, Cassandra Cain and Black Canary.

Rosie Perez as Gotham City police officer Renee Montoya delivered a strong presence as the law enforcement element in the film and through her, we get to see the culture of the local police. Don’t expect her to have any links with police commissioner Gordon or Batman, though. Jurnee Smollet-Bell as the cinematic Black Canary is one of the stronger performers even though her version of the character is radically different from the one I read in the comic books long ago. Ella Jay Basco, an actress of Filipino and Korean heritage, as the orphan Cassandra Cain is clearly the movie’s representative (and attraction to) of the youth. Performance-wise, Basco delivered a nice performance even though her character (who in the comics is one of many who became Batgirl) lacks depth. Fortunately for us moviegoers, she is not the whiny teenager who annoy viewers and, more importantly, she delivered nicely in her part of the film’s plot. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is good as the cinematic Huntress. It’s too bad her on-screen presence is not long enough to be enjoyed, nor were moviegoers given better opportunities to know the Huntress better.

The most outstanding performance in the movie was delivered by Ewan McGregor as Black Mask. McGregor, who is a naturally artistic actor, is very colorful with his portrayal of a supervillain who, unlike many other such antagonists in other superhero movies, is charismatic, suave and yet cruel to the core. This cinematic Black Mask is not your generic action movie villain and, as such, hiring McGregor was one of the best moves made by Warner Bros. I honestly find McGregor a worthy adversary versus Margot Robbie when it comes to cinematic artistry.

When it comes to spectacle, Birds of Prey is heavily loaded with hard-hitting action plus some bloody shots that make it standout among the many superhero movies released in this current century. For one thing, the actresses themselves took an active part in doing action and the stunts they could pull of on their own (the harder stuff were understandably done by stunt doubles). Watching Harley Quinn beat up the bad guys with that large hammer, the baseball bat and other stuff were not only hard-hitting but also creative without ever looking choreographed. Black Canary’s high kicks were notable. Renee Montoya’s reliance on guns and hard action were symbolic throwbacks to the police movies of the past. Huntress meanwhile showed how deadly her small but powerful crossbow can be on-screen.

Late in the film is a certain long-take action sequence filled with the characters struggling with the bad guys simultaneously (without using computer-generated imagery) which was cleverly filmed with nice timing as the camera moved on very steadily. That sequence, even though short, is worth watching again and again. Oh yes, there are no shaky camera sequences shot!

The action scenes, in my opinion, came into play at the right time whenever I felt enough dialogue and exposition were made. This shows that the filmmakers pulled off the right moves with the pacing to ensure that people are kept entertained while still maintaining some storytelling sense which is quite an achievement since the film’s plot lacked depth. The stunts, meanwhile, are really nice to watch.

As for the brewing arguments and anticipation that Birds of Prey is a leftist and feminist piece of propaganda, I should say that such influences are more on the visual side than on the dialogue. Even though Ewan McGregor publicly said the movie is feminist, it’s not too strong. The feminism is more visible in images of the ladies fighting the bad guys who are varied with their looks – muscular, tall, big, beards, etc. The feminism is obvious with the ladies teaming up together and that is not surprising at all. Even though it has feminism elements, Birds of Prey is still pretty much a superhero movie on its own. You want a movie with stronger and more blatant feminism? Watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi instead. Maybe you want to try Elizabeth Banks’ failure Charlie’s Angels.

Conclusion

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With strong and creative performances plus loads of fun stuff that more than made up for the lack of story depth and character development, Birds of Prey is an enjoyable superhero movie that is worthy of being part of the current DC Comics Cinematic Universe. Without relying on fan service, this movie expands the current cinematic universe’ presentation of Gotham City and shows the other parts of it away from Batman.

Even if you have not read any Birds of Prey comics, this movie will still prove to be entertaining. Just don’t expect to see the more iconic DC Comics characters and don’t expect to see heavy amounts of computer-generated images on-screen. Birds of Prey is more grounded and for a production of roughly $100 million, the production values still look high.

Overall, Birds of Prey is highly recommended and I encourage you to watch it in the cinemas as soon as possible. And if you have the extra money, watch it on an IMAX screen as the film was optimized for the format.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

 

 

Birds of Prey Coming to Cinemas

As far as superhero movies go, 2020 is looking interesting as there is no new Avengers movie coming out this year. After the climax of last year’s Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios is gradually building up new anticipation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Black Widow. Sony Pictures has Bloodshot which is the first live-action film adaptation of any of Valiant’s comic book properties. Warner Bros. has the highly anticipated Wonder Woman 1984 set for June.

Before Wonder Woman 1984, Warner Bros. will start their 2020 superhero movie journey with Birds of Prey which will open in cinemas on February 5-6-7 in varied parts of the world. For your viewing pleasure, below are the movie poster and the first movie trailer.

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The movie poster.

Birds of Prey: and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is the next entry of the current DC Comics Cinematic Universe (which started in 2013 with Man of Steel) starring Margot Robbie reprising her role as Harley Quinn (started in 2016’s Suicide Squad), Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Jurnee Smollet-Bell as Dinah/Black Canary, Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain and Ewan McGregor as Black Mask. It is directed by Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs).

According to the movie’s page at IMDB.com and the above movie trailer, the movie is set some time after the events of Suicide Squad as Harley Quinn left Joker..…looking for a fresh start. This leads her to encountering Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya and they band together to save a young lady who has been targeted by Black Mask. This leads to a conflict between the ladies and Black Mask’s gang.

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The gang with Harley Quinn.

In the United States, the review and classification board MPAA rated Birds of Prey with an R (restricted) for strong violence and language throughout, and some sexual and drug material. If the movie trailers are any indication, this movie is looking like it will have some really intense action scenes and harder acts of violence.

In my honest opinion, crafting a superhero movie that is more intense, more adulterated and more expressive than the usual Hollywood superhero movie can work wonders for as long as the film’s presentation is nicely done and makes the best out of its fantasy concept.

In the case of Birds of Prey, the trailers suggest that Harley Quinn is more insane (than being crazy in the Suicide Squad movie) not only with her personality but also with the way she fights others. I’m expecting to hear Harley and Black Mask say F-words in the movie. While so far nothing has been shown in the previews, I’m anticipating that there will be scenes showing Huntress fire her arrows and kill gang members violently.

While it is R-rated, Birds of Prey is predicted to open with over $50 million in the American box office for the reasons that it is the only wide release for its opening weekend, all the exhibitors anticipated it and the movie has a strong anticipation with moviegoers below the age of 25.

Some of you may be wondering…what exactly are the Birds of Prey? Is that a popular comic book franchise? When did it start?

Historically, Birds of Prey started in the mid-1990s with the one-shot comic book Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey #1 written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Gary Frank. That comic book featured mainly Black Canary (specifically Dinah Lance) and Barbara Gordon. For your viewing pleasure, posted below are the front cover and two pages.

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The cover.
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This is Dinah/Black Canary.
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Hard-hitting action!

I never read any Birds of Prey comic book before. I’m not exactly a fan of Harley Quinn and her performer Margot Robbie. Still, because Birds of Prey is the latest DC Comics Cinematic Universe entry, I plan to watch it and review it here. Also it has been a long time since the highly talented Ewan McGregor had a memorable cinematic performance. I really find its concept intriguing. Warner Bros. and the filmmakers (Walter Hamada and Suicide Squad director credited as Executive Producers, plus Margot Robbie is a producer) are taking a huge risk to sell this $100 million production with an R-rating.

In closing this, here is the 2nd trailer.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com