Heroes & Villains: Robin Turns 80 And How To Help Local Comic Shops

Isolation is treating me well.

Everything is fine…just fine.

Here’s your comic recommendation for the week and I’m totally not waiting for my books to be delivered while wearing my Dark Knight Rises Bane mask.

Robin 80thRobin 80th Anniversary 100 Page Super Spectacular
Various (W/A)
DC Comics

Since I recently wrote about DC’s big ol’ Flash anniversary book I’m looking forward to taking a look at the Robin book this week. Up until Bat-mania hit in the summer of 1989 I was primarily Marvel-focused with my comic book reading. I had a few Batman, Superman, and Flash comics but Spider-Man was my ride or die.

My exposure to Robin was split between Burt Ward’s portrayal on the highly campy 60’s Batman show and Robin as he appeared in Super Friends. I recall Jason Todd’s death making the national news and I was only vaguely aware at the time that he had replaced Dick Grayson as Robin. The character’s death managed to dovetail nicely with my renewed interest in all things Batman and by the time the A Lonely Place of Dying storyline came along I was ready for a new Robin.

The third Robin, Tim Drake, is undoubtedly my favourite Robin to date. A lot of it had to do with him being a capable hero in his own right (being the complete opposite of Jason Todd didn’t hurt much, either) and seeming more like a partner to Batman than previous versions of the character had. Plus, the updated costume (with pants!) was an instant classic and modernized the character without losing anything. I was an avid reader of the Robin solo title during its initial run and I’m looking forward to seeing with this 100 Page Super Spectacular has in store for me.

The Current State Of Things

One of the pitfalls of writing a weekly column is that any jokes I dream up in the days between columns often get blasted on to Twitter before I can even commit them to the page. Maybe it speaks to the lowest common denominator nature of my humour but I had to scrap an entire list of “Comics From The 90’s You Can Wipe Your Ass With” because the joke got made almost immediately after I hit submit on last week’s piece.

I can’t lie…shit is fucked here. Traditionally, I don’t work “blue” since I have relatives that read this thing but I cannot express it in any other way. For a laugh, I drove about 30 miles away from the town I live in to a supermarket just to see how far the panic buying had gone. I anticipated I would be able to walk into the small town grocery store and pick up a few rolls of TP all while sharing a knowing chuckle with the cashier about how the big city folk were freaking out over nothing. Not the case.

At present, I was able to complete my weekly grocery shopping without any trouble. I normally shop very early on Sunday mornings which often means I’m the only customer in the 24-hour store up the road from where I live. However, this week there was a LOT of other people shopping at some time during the six A.M. hour and every single one of them had carts that were overflowing with groceries. They also shared the same glazed/panicked look in their eyes. Everyone was right on the edge of holding it together…and I get it.

Sure there’s been a ton of “dank” memes about hand washing, hoarding, and isolation and there’s a case to be made for them helping us collectively deal with this thing. I normally work out of my home and the office I work at has made it clear that we’re to continue doing so for the foreseeable future, the impact on my day-to-day is minimal.

My thoughts have turned to my friends that work in the service industry, a lot of non-essential businesses are being forced to close to stop the spread of the virus. What that means is, if you’re working in the service industry right now, you’re fucked. If you’re not working, you’re not getting paid and that’s a problem that’s only going to snowball.

It’s not my intention to be preachy or to even attempt to offer suggestions to “fix” the issue we’re all looking down the barrel of right now but I’m going to break it down for you the only way I know how: Comics.

Your local comic shop depends on you. The reality of their situation is that those new books that magically appear on Wednesday have to be paid for. I’m not sure how most stores work but I know that a lot of the stores I’ve frequented over the years get their shipment of new books on Tuesday and they’re C.O.D. That’s “cash on delivery” which means your shop has to fork over a check that is oftentimes in the thousands of dollars so you can read your books the next day.

Next, imagine what people staying away is going to do to them, Better yet, imagine you’re a customer with a dedicated pull-list and you haven’t been in to pick up your books in weeks…or months. Those are books your shop has bought and paid for just sitting and waiting for you to collect them. Somehow, your shop isn’t charging you interest on them.

Now, I’m not saying you should all go out en masse to your local shop, that would be a bad idea right now. Some shops have Facebook pages, Twitter handles, emails, or even a good old fashioned telephone. Find out if they’re open, find out if they’ll mail you your books if you’re not comfortable going out. Getting your weekly fix of comics can be a great distraction from everything else going on right now.

It’s essential that we watch out for each other these days because the people that should be watching out for us aren’t.

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