Zero Hour Strikes! Shadow of the Bat #31 and Robin #10

In Zero Hour Strikes! Episode 7, Bass and Siskoid connect back to the Batman Family again (it’s the ’90s, what can we say) to cover Batman: Shadow of the Bat #31 and Robin #10, where temporal anomalies continue to hit Gotham City. Quite a lot of Robin talk, actually, since Tim Drake didn’t even exist back when the boys covered Invasion. Have a listen!

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Relevant images and further credits at: Zero Hour Strikes ep.7 Supplemental

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10 responses to “Zero Hour Strikes! Shadow of the Bat #31 and Robin #10

  1. Listening now, but a quick note: Goodwin was no doubt modeled on comic writer and then DC Editor Archie Goodwin, who was editing Legends of the Dark Knight among other titles, at the time. He had glasses and a bushy mustache, much like Jim Gordon!


  2. These are two of my favorite Zero Hour tie-ins as well, and I do think the Robin issue is probably my favorite over all.

    Shadow of the Bat started out as a “prestige” title for the winning Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle team, and a chance for them to take a slightly more mature, psychological approach to Batman and his world. But eventually the title was pulled into Knightfall and all of its follow-ups, Breyfogle left, and as you said, it became just another Batman title. I do like Bret Blevins art in general, and on this title in particular. It suited Grant’s quirky writing tendencies. He went on to storyboard some of the DCAU shows as well. “Fat” Alfred was about as obscure as Zero Hour callbacks got, and it made for a very fun issue.

    I loved this Robin series during all of Chuck Dixon’s run on the title. He didn’t create him, but he basically MADE the Tim Drake who became a fan favorite, and the first truly worthy successor to Dick Grayson. Dixon did a great job showing the similarities and differences between the two Robins, and I loved how Jason’s ghost hung over Tim’s head, especially when Dick commented on how reckless Tim was being, trying to measure up to his idol. Tom Grummet’s art is comic perfection. He’s one of the best, especially at drawing young people who actually look like kids and teens.

    I won’t use this post to rattle on about how I hate Damian. But man, I really do. The words “Robin” and “assassin” should never be mentioned together (unless you are talking about Rob Kelly and 900 phone numbers), so despite how well he’s been written here and there, the basic concept of the character is a huge turn-off to me. I guess I did rattle a little.

    Hawkman next time, huh? Poor Bass!!!


  3. Good show on issues I didn’t read.

    As for Dick Grayson, yes, he’s the greatest Robin. But he’s also the greatest Batman.

  4. Summer of ’89, Batmania gripping the nation, I bought <iDetective Comics #604 because of the bound-in mini-poster and the start of a 4-part story arc, “The Mud Pack.” I thought they were stupid, so I waited out the arc and tried again with #608, the first part of Anarky’s introduction. I liked that better, though I preferred the similar one & done Ann Nocenti had done a year or two earlier in Daredevil. I then proceeded to skip the rest of the Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle run, although I do think I read/skimmed friends’ copies of some issues along the way.

    I’ve never liked Alan Grant’s writing much, finding it both too dry and yet a tad to sardonic in his approach, as though he can’t quite take the material seriously without having the talent to be funny about it. I know there’s a lot of love for Norm Breyfogle around here, but to me he was usually too abstract for a guy who was at heart of the Neal Adams/Continuity school of art. I imagine for a lot of people, he bridges the more realistic artists with more impressionistic types like Tim Sale, but for me he’s more a half-measure between those disparate visions.

    But, you know, the ’90s. They polybagged Shadow of the Bat #1 with some goodies, and I got into the story of Batman getting institutionalized in Arkham while pursuing a Hannibal Lecter type. I liked it well enough to finish the arc, but not to carry on after. I was back again for Knightfall, but I was still having flashbacks to my disdain for Bret Blevins’ run on New Mutants. The tie-ins lasted all of three issues, and then I was out until KnightsEnd. Where I’d resented the tenuous connection of a Scarecrow story to the first event, the second was a much more tightly coordinated affair, at least. Zero Hour launched right after, so the gravitational pull of events kept me on Shadow for my longest sustained run with the book.

    In 1994, I was still ensconced in grim’n’gritty, and vetting DC Comics as a potential new neighborhood to settle into. A broadly comical Golden Age pastiche contrasted against the modern Dark Knight held no allure…

  5. So I was cheerfully listening to episode on my Google Mini … When you decided to explain how to “ok Google” the podcast, thus launching the assistant, creating your own entropy.
    Well done, very apropos for the podcast…

  6. Siskoid mentioned that the second Robin in the Bruce Timm DCAU was Tim Drake and that is very true. The character was definitely named Tim Drake. He was also given the Post Crisis Jason Todd’s origin and attitude, which took some getting used to. It’s valid, but I kind of wish we had been given a straight up Tim Drake adaptation. But this was not to be and there are more important things to be upset about.

    Shadow of the Bat was a title I followed for a very brief period of time and it was because of Zero Hour. I vividly remember getting the first issue when it came out in 1992 but I never followed up on it. After Zero Hour I kept up with it because I liked that it was presented as the more psychologically complex Batman title. BATMAN was more of a moody, gothic horror type book, thanks in large part to Kelley Jones’ art. DETECTIVE was the…detective book that featured more of the GCPD and dealing with the more street level villains. It gave me a variety of Batman stories to read until I dropped off after Contagion. By the time I came back briefly with Cataclysm, Shadow was, as Siskoid and Bass said, just another Batman book. It was replaced by Gotham Knights, which had some really good stories in it.

    I cannot say enough good things about Chuck Dixon’s ROBIN work. Marv Wolfman and Alan Grant may have created and developed the character, but Dixon defined him. This is in my Top Five of Zero Hour tie-ins and the Grummett artwork just makes me so happy as a fan. Tim is my favorite Robin. I’ll always love the sixties television series version and the Super Friends version of Dick as the character, but much like Siskoid, when I finally started reading the comics full time Dick was Nightwing. Tim was someone I followed from the moment of his creation and that is one of the reasons I hung in with him after entering my twenties and thirties. There was a point around 2005 that I felt creepy reading the Geoff Johns Teen Titans book because these were kids and I was an adult, but I had been following some of the characters for so long that I figured it was okay.

    Excellent episode, fellas. Thanks for being there in times of strife. It is much appreciated.

  7. Aww, my comments on Superman/Darkstars got cut for length/lack of merit/meaniness. No poetry this month. Cue ‘The Lonely Man’ as I walk away with my man-purse over my shoulder.

    Thanks to “Titans Hunt,” Tom Grummett became one of my favorite artists… until Ray Kryssing started inking him. The art on Robin was pleasant, but so simplified and rubber-balloony compared to Doug Hazelwood or G.O.A.T. Al Vey. I guess that’s why he worked so well over Bart Sears, and Grummett clearly simplified his style for Superboy as well, but it still felt like a mismatch. Anyway, I bought Robin #1 for the enhanced cover and ties to Knightfall, but my disappointment in the art and distancing from Knightquest saw me skip several issues. I was a fan of Phil Jimenez and Huntress, so I dropped back in for the Showcase crossover, which immediately preceded KnightsEnd, and continued followed the Shadow of the Bat trajectory.

    I dug Jim Starlin’s Jason Todd in “The Cult” and “A Death in Family,” but when he left it seemed to trigger my falling away from the Bat-titles (despite not actually being aware he’d left.) I dipped in for an issue each of Year Two and Year Three, but they didn’t hold me. I was aware of the new Robin from Comic Shop News and other murmurings, but I think all that was happening when I was newsstand dependent. My brother had a neighborhood shop, so I could check out his Direct Currents or whatever, but he generally shied away from DC. I missed most of Tim Drake’s early appearances and the first Robin mini, but I did buy the first part of a Robin-centric arc in Detective that Tom Lyle drew. I’d been exposed to Lyle through !mpact’s The Comet (okay, lil’ bro bought those para-DCs,) but what worked there fell flat elsewhere. I bet a lot of people wonder why he didn’t stick with Robin for the ongoing series, where I wonder if maybe he was the reason Drake got the Lobo treatment. Lyle expanded his fan base and maybe lined his royalty checks by moving to Marvel for Spider-Man, and I preferred him on a line I wasn’t reading.

    As I’ve often mentioned, I value distinction. Supreme can rip off Superman all he wants, so long as the ways that they differ remain clear. I dug how different the Batman and Robin dynamic became when you had to wonder whether Jason Todd was defenestrating teen rapists behind his scalloped backside. Each time I sampled the Tim Drake Robin, I came away thinking he was a good kid. Maybe a bit smarter, or at least more tech savy. Probably a better fighter, or at least on his way, thanks to being trained by Shiva (and not being a jobber for 40+ years.) Nowhere near the acrobat, not a jokester, too mild-mannered to muster the same degree of charisma. So… Terri Alden? He corrects weaknesses and maintains the basic structure of the property, but lacks that certain something that separates Chrissy from Cindy Snow.

    You touched on an important point about legacy. My comics “home” for most of my reading up until this point had been Marvel’s X-titles, but they lost their voice with Chris Claremont’s departure, and I didn’t have the heart to read a comic book adaptation of the cartoon’s adaptation of old Claremont plots. I followed the X-artists to Image, where every book was filled with vague allusions to a dense non-history derivative of Marvel and DC. Despite being sold as new, it came across as impenetrable as he “real” comic histories. Other universes also sold themselves as being able to get in on the ground floor, but with the bust, many never built a second story or basement. Even the ones that had more time and creativity to develop still had a narrower scope and reflected a more modest, less accomplished creative vision. What I soon grew to love about ’90s DC is that they had a long, diverse, true continuity (both fabricated and in terms of staff/talent) that was explicitly observed in their titles. DC felt more solid and progressive than other universe, still respecting their icons in a way Marvel were not while also investing in descendants worthy of mantles. That richness really drew me into a lived-in house of ideals– a new home for me as a reader.

  8. I was lucky to receive a copy of “Batman From the 30s to the 70s” when I was a kid, which includes this Alfred’s first appearance, so I was in on the gag. They nailed the character and showed just how out of place he was in 90s Batman’s world, and I enjoyed it quick a lot.

    Yes, I had that run of New Mutants, but my first encounter with Bret Blevins was earlier: The Bozz Chronicles, a mini-series from Marvel’s Epic Comics imprint. I really need to give that a reread. It has elements of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who.

    I’ve mentioned before my affection for Tim Drake. His computer savvy, martial arts training, sharing a first name, plus his debut right after I graduated college when my comic collecting was in full swing, of course I’m biased. But I don’t care. He’s smart, nerdy, shy, heroic, determined. Just the best Robin. Chuck Dixon gets all the credit for that. And Tom Grummett’s art. Love love love!

    Another great show, gentlemen!

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