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Dark Crisis: Young Justice #5

Oct 19, 2022

I don't know how a writer manages to make you hate the heroes she's writing, but that's what has happened here. Each issue has only gotten progressively worse, and rather than show us a group of individuals trying to define a better future for themselves and the world, we've basically gotten a personal rant (I can't even say I feel like I'm getting lectured at because frankly there is nothing enlightening about anything she has written) and vent session from the writer. It feels cheap, and for the vast majority of fans, undeserved. Everyone can see the point she's been trying to make. She's been hammering it down over the readers since the beginning. Yes, there are pockets of fans like that in fandom (and this is in any fandom, not just DC) but to destroy an entire group of superheroes just to make a point everyone is aware of in the most obtuse sort of way does nothing for the story (and frankly there is no story here at all - 5 issues in and still no idea how this is honestly related to the main Dark Crisis story), the characters, or the fans. Couple this with artwork that seems to have had no real direction and only adds to the mess of the overall story. I don't know if the artist was merely working off a bad script - the writing in this series has been atrocious - but the whole comic comes off as disjointed. There's no flow to it, and its concepts are ill-formed, more vague shadows and hand-waving than anything concrete. Again, I suspect this has more to do with the writer and what was presented for the story and perhaps poor editorial oversight rather than the artist completely missing the mark. Seriously, though, shame on the editorial team for allowing this to progress the way it has. Fitzmartin could learn a thing or two about nuanced writing, and quite frankly, story writing in general, but she seems to lack the talent to understand such a concept. Bludgeoning her readers appears to be the only thing she knows how to do with her attempted stories. I have never disliked reading anything as I generally find some sort of merit in a work, but this series has been the most unenjoyable thing I've ever read. And it's heartbreaking because I was truly excited to see the YJ team come back (as well as Tim Drake), but I can't in good faith support anything this writer does anymore. It's honestly made me question the DC brand as a whole if this is the level of storytelling and characters they're reaching for.

Dark Crisis: Young Justice #6

Nov 16, 2022

I'd like to say I feel some level of relief that this series has now met its end, but in all honesty, I'm still left baffled by how such a story was ever allowed to proceed on the course that it did. I was hoping we would get some sort of explanation into why this was worth putting the Dark Crisis title on it, but the fact of that matter remains that this series has absolutely nothing to do with the current Dark Crisis plot. It has offered us nothing of value on that front. There is no reason this should have been put into this lineup. At best, this could have been a one-shot standalone that someone decided to throw out into the universe, but to say this brings anything to the overarching story we're getting with Dark Crisis would be a flat-out lie. Mickey's explanation for how he came to play in this is incredibly weak and reads as if they needed something to legitimize placing Dark Crisis on the covers at the last minute. You very well could have left out that bit of dialogue from him, and it wouldn't have made a damn difference to the YJ story or the main Dark Crisis one. Honestly, if Fitzmartin's aim was to show us just how unnecessary and easily discarded the YJ group is, this comic proved that point. Rather than making us feel how needed and vital this group could be, she ended up showing us the exact opposite. The whole main Dark Crisis storyline proceeded without them, and them being gone played no major role in what was happening outside of their own mini-series. And if that was, in fact, the whole point of this, then what a sad and shallow way to go about it. Fans were looking forward to this comic, to seeing this group get something fun again, to show us their relevance after having been forgotten for so long, and instead, were shown how they truly have no real place in this current DC universe. Fitzmartin proves that her story is exactly everything Mickey was complaining about, and yet it offered us no viable alternative, only the continued hammering home of how easily cast aside these characters continue to be. It's honestly impressive. In an attempt to defy and rage against the worst of the comic world (which in reality is a small but admittedly vocal part of the fandom) and rail against a time and issues that not only the characters themselves progressed past in other stories and most readers have as well, this story has only managed to uphold those very same values it decries. Again, the writing suffers from continuity issues, of being incredibly disjointed. At times, it seems to finally get its act together, best noted in the first 2-3 pages, but then quickly loses itself again to the same problems suffered in the previous issues. This time we get it mostly in this weirdly put stop-and-go format of the boys apologizing to Cassie. These moments felt oddly out of place, especially given the supposedly pressing nature of their fight not only against Mickey but also the fight happening in the main storyline, which they are now aware of. Like most of Fitzmartin's writing, instead of showing us why these boys should feel the remorse they did (because honestly, a lot of the previous work she is referencing doesn't support the degree to which their guilt weighs), we are simply told it. It comes off as disingenuine, as something said for the sake of someone else and not because it was needed at that moment in the comic. Tim's was by far the worst, in my opinion, as it was a weird aside when they were rushing to get back to the main fight, and it offered nothing of any real value other than to open the doors on his potential feelings for Conner (I'll circle back to this). I want to love all these characters, and instead, I feel like I've gotten a series in which apologies are being made by characters who aren't the ones who should be issuing them, where we've lost the voices of characters in favor of making blanket statements and poorly directed commentary, where characters have been forced to deprive themselves of their own inherent greatness just to prop up another character (because where did we see anyone other than Cassie as the target of all of this?). And I get that's maybe the issue, a character getting overshadowed by those around them, but instead of showing us how amazing this team is, we were shown how amazing one character is (seriously, Tim Drake who?) only to ultimately be shown how completely irrelevant they really are to the main plot. Kon, perhaps, had the most legitimate reason to apologize personally to Cassie. Though they also had previous progression beyond what seemed to be his main hangup here, and the way Cassie brushes off his apology seems to show it was probably unnecessary in the first place. If anything, it likely serves as a foil to what came with Tim, where the implication seems to be that he had feelings for Conner, and that was the only real reason he had gotten together with Cassie in the first place. Again, I think this suffered from being put at the wrong time and place and having too little build-up (again, a continued flaw with Fitzmartin's writing). In some respects, it can lend weight to Tim's bisexuality, and while this could be an understandable development, shoehorning it into a couple of panels in the last few pages of the last comic of a miniseries while we next see Tim six months later in a marina with Bernard was not the best way to approach this topic at all. It would have been better served as a conversation between Tim and Conner at a point when sufficient time could have been given to a conversation of that nature. But the fact that Tim and Conner don't even seem to interact in this particular issue only makes this a matter of 'things we don't really talk about' or 'these are things we talk around,' and it completely undermines what could have been a very powerful moment between two supposedly close friends. I honestly love Tim and Conner's friendship, and this could have been such a fantastic thing to see between them and a way to explore Tim's own confusion over his sexuality when he was younger and show us how we ended up with him where he is today. Instead, we got a half-assed apology that didn't even need to happen, an apology that was just as easily dismissed by Cassie. (Also, with him being bisexual, it would've been perfectly okay for him just to have some sort of attraction to Cassie and leave it at that.) And I don't even know why Bart felt the need to apologize. Especially when everything that was said in that particular conversation was a rehashed conversation from earlier in the series with him. Again, it just strips all the genuineness out of the things being said between these characters, and it makes me wonder how someone who claims to love these characters so much can get them so very wrong. At the end of it all, this series honestly leaves me feeling incredibly sad. Sad for the characters who didn't get the development and appreciation they should have, sad for the comic fans who genuinely love this group and DC comics, sad for the state of comic writing because I know there are better writers than Fitzmartin who could tell these stories. There was a lot of potential here, even in the idea of commenting on the current state of comics and the fandom, but it was so grossly mishandled that I'm left wondering why anyone would want to see this group of characters again, at least as written and handled by this creative team. There was a story here. It's not a new one, but it was one that could have been told, but all its effectiveness was shot and buried by poor writing, poor pacing, and characterization that seemed more intent on proving the writer's points than showing us character understanding, progression, and strength. You can make these points without losing your characters and your audience, but unfortunately, Fitzmartin shows herself incapable of managing this yet again. But, I sincerely hope we do get to see these characters again for who they truly are and everything they bring to the table as superheroes because they are so much better than what we got in this series.

Knight Terrors: Robin (2023) #1

Jul 13, 2023

Overall, it's not the worst story DC has put out recently, but it really failed to hit in the ways it could have had Porter stretched these nightmares in slightly different ways. All we get is a jaunt down the same paths we've seen with both of these characters with nothing new added to them to bring more clarity or even a different viewpoint to them. Tim, by far, walks away with the better story here, whereas Jason is truly dragged back to the grave. Perhaps Porter will show us something invigorating in the second issue, but given how this one has started, this comic appears to be splashing old things with Halloween colors. Disappointed, but not surprised.

Knight Terrors: Robin (2023) #2

Aug 11, 2023

Honestly, this was a poor conclusion to this short series and arguably worse than the first issue. I felt no real sense of alarm at all from what we got with these nightmares, and it made it even harder to take Jason and Tim's reactions and resolution seriously in the face of them. It really felt like Porter had no idea how to wrap this up, realized he was out of space to tell the story, and just hastily threw together some sort of Disney-ified ending about the true power of friendship that completely stripped the whole humanity from the story itself along with its two starring characters and their relationship. Even worse, the lesson pounded into us at the end was basically for Jason alone and not really for Tim, who ended up being the savior here. This was less a Jason *and* Tim story, and more of another story where Jason gets to prop up another character at the expense of his own characterization. It's been frustrating to watch this whole story play out, being as relatively unimaginative as it has been on most fronts. Not only does it feel like Porter has a rather superficial grasp of who Jason is (and while I'd say he does better with Tim, I'm still not about to say he wrote Tim well either but TDR is a low bar to be hopping over for the argument of better characterization), he brings us to this story's conclusion based upon this and makes for an ending that manages to be both unsatisfactory and hardly deserved. He could have created an opening for something here, a plot point to build on from this moment with these two and allowing for the work to be done in that relationship in whatever stories might follow, and instead, it felt like some trite after-school special getting its neatly packaged lesson of an ending. And this isn't even getting into the dialogue here that was just off to plain weird and cringe (if people are going to knock Fitzmartin for her "I am Robin" line in the last issue of TDR Porter shouldn't be getting a free pass here either on writing it as well - joke or not, if was just plain cringe writing), and felt unnatural at times, almost as if these characters should have been shadows of the nightmare selves they faced instead of the original personas conversing. Overall a disappointing end to what was an uninspired start.

Tim Drake: Robin (2022) #1

Sep 29, 2022

This was honestly heartbreakingly terrible. When it was announced that Tim Drake was getting his own series, I was so ecstatic, esp after it was announced he was bi. However, after seeing the current YJ run and following it up with this first issue, I can see now that your writer has no concept of how to develop a story or relationships between people. The dialogue continues to be stilted and manufactured rather than carrying any real trace of a casual conversation. A lot of it is stiff and instead of being relevant or poignant borders almost offensive at times, and I can’t tell if this writer simply has no idea on how to construct dialogue between different sets of people or if she’s honestly trying to offend and not in the way that gets you to think about what is being said. Even if that were the case, deliberate offense, there are times and places and ways to go about this in storytelling, and I find it hilarious that she calls upon someone like Twain in her writing without seeming to understand that concept. If there are points to be made, and she clearly writes as someone with an agenda and not an authentic story, then she has no idea how to convey them without destroying the story and the characters themselves in the process. She also seems to have no idea how to construct a detective tale, instead relying on old authors to the point there is nothing new added to the use of their stories as employed in Tim Drake’s and offering the reader poorly stitched together endings that end up being incredibly unsatisfying. Tim is supposed to be on par with Bruce as a detective, and it seems his intellect is a hard reach for the writer to convey. You do not have to be smarter than your characters, but in writing ones like Tim you need to build a story around them that makes it seem as though you are - you control every little aspect to lead your characters and your readers to discovery, and this writer displays an appalling immaturity on that front. This wasn’t even a trail of breadcrumbs but a graffitied line from one point to another with a convoluted resolution. And Tim living in the Marina in the worst boat? With stated crooked cops running the area? With some sort of eye on destroying the place to gentrify it? That’s not something to choose to lay low. You go mid-tier and nestle in with the status quo, not the outliers as those are the first to get blamed or checked. And when going after a place to “revitalize” it as an area, it’s the poorest (or perceived poorest) aspects who will be targeted first. Again, I have to question the writer’s ability to set up a credible story with the character she’s been given. Small choices matter when defining your characters and she seems to not care - that or she lacks the ability to consider it in her stories. Details matter. All the more so in a detective story as this is being peddled. 

 And this isn’t even talking about how upsetting her idea of representation is with Tim. I’m LGBTQ. I don’t want to see a fantastic character reduced to his sexuality. I want to see a fully-fleshed human in a wonderful story. I don’t want to feel like I’m being reduced to a trope or a token, and that is what has happened to Tim. Maybe the writer doesn’t intend this, but she seems to lack the ability to convey who Tim properly is given this new context. Nothing about his relationship reads genuine but rather carries only the idea of what someone thinks an LGBTQ relationship is. I almost burst into tears seeing this is what we ultimately ended up getting in Tim’s standalone, the last hope I held onto after reading her YJ series utterly shattered. We deserve better representation. You can care about rep all you want, but if your end product still reads as dishonest, then you’ve done nothing good for the people you are trying to ally with. We shouldn’t have to settle for this when there are so many wonderful creatives out there who understand how to make LGBTQ characters that resonate not just with the community but with a broader audience. Unfortunately, this writer is not one of them. She needs to drop her agendas and learn how to tell a genuine story that knows how to respect its characters and plots.

Tim Drake: Robin (2022) #2

Oct 26, 2022

Where do I even begin? Challenge for Fitzmartin: stop taking the plots of other detective comics and making it seem like you did anything with them. This is just lazy writing. The fact that I knew what story she would use next based on the preview talk of a stolen diamond and framing someone, given her previous history with other old detective stories, made this as lame as the previous issue. Nothing of value again was added to the use of this older story, and instead of seeming "cute" of the villain (because it sure isn't "smart"), it plays off as something amateur. It doesn't even come off as a villain teasing Tim, but yet again reads as someone who thinks she is writing something smarter than she really is, and in the process, ends up dumbing down her lead character. I'm once again wondering how the hell Tim is supposed to be the "smartest" Robin when he couldn't figure out the story right away, and yet, I could based upon the villain's previous use of a certain type of story and the immediate clues left in the broadcast. I thought he was a detective story fan? To not even see what the trend here was, and instead, spend more time wondering "oh is it this" or "is it that" comes off as a pointless waste of time for a set-up that was equally as pointless save for providing more angst fodder. There was an obvious thread here, and Tim couldn't figure it out. This is boring. I'm not at all in awe of Tim's detective skills, and I should be. And anyone with any sort of literary knowledge, or basic reading comprehension and a computer, could have figured out what the next detective story ripoff was going to be before Tim got there himself. And this isn't even getting into how much time Tim spends questioning his place in the world, to the tune of 'I have no family and no support, only Bernard and my detective skills' (which have already been shown as lackluster at best by the actual detective work happening here). How is Bernard the only person Tim feels he can rely on, that he wants to be with, who truly gets him when we have seen now not only Bruce being supportive of him but also, supposedly if one believes her YJ run, his old YJ friends? But somehow the only place he belongs on is a boat and with Bernard. This is a complete slap in the face to the Batfamily and his other friends. Fitzmartin makes it sound like Tim got kicked out because of who he was only to turn around and say he wanted to distance himself from Bruce while also saying Batman needs Robin. So, what is it here? (And I get Tim will get something new here for that, but also this comic is titled Tim Drake: Robin.) And how exactly did Tim "ruin" things with Steph? He broke up with her. She didn't dump him, and again, if we're to believe the Pride special stuff, Steph was ecstatic over Bernard (and no we're not getting into how badly written that was here). I fail to see how anything was ruined unless we are once again supposed to imagine a lot of drama that isn't being shown. Then, to make things worse, Tim admits the Wayne family has "a stalker" to try and convince Bernard to step back, but he shows absolutely no concern about letting the rest of the Batfam know about this breach. His identity has been compromised, and his first thought is whether he's a bad boyfriend to Bernard and not about the potential jeopardizing of every other superhero associated with him. Which is such a complete and utter contrast to what we've been seeing in Zdarsky's Batman. I don't know who this Tim Drake is. I honestly don't even know what story Fitzmartin is trying to tell here. Half of it seems to be creating drama for the sake of drama while elements of the same story and others, including ones she herself has written, directly contradict what Tim is battling over in his thoughts. I have wanted so badly to believe in having something good with a bisexual Tim, but the stuff Fitzmartin writes completely destroys my faith in getting to have that. I have never felt more like a token sell-point than in the way Tim continues to spend more time wondering about Bernard and his relationship than in the real problems surrounding him as a superhero. I wanted a good detective story. I wanted to see Tim Drake at his absolute best. Instead, I'm getting cheap angst and a detective who can't seem to solve his way out of a paper bag. Oh, and I'm not even touching on the "cliffhanger" ending, but really? That's who you want to demonize at the end of this? (Also, it's Larry, Curly, and Moe, not Curley.)

Tim Drake: Robin (2022) #3

Nov 23, 2022

Overall, this was still a badly written issue, but dropping the pursuit of various older detective stories and allowing some semblance of a plot to form was one of the better things about this particular one. That being said, still not a great time being had here. Fitzmartin's grasp on characterization remains threadbare at best. She has a few lines that seem to imply she has at least some passing knowledge of the relationships between the Robins, but the details once again are muddled to fit her writing scenarios and not who these characters actually are. And these issues don't come from the fake Robins themselves but from Tim's assessments of them. Now, I'm reading this as a storyline that follows up from Dark Crisis, so to insist that Dick Grayson is still desperately trying to get Bruce's approval rang really hollow to me, as he has definitely been starting his own thing in the current Nightwing series and has shown himself stepping up in the Dark Crisis story. Sure, there is always the shadow of Bruce over any in the Batfam, but to say Dick has some weakness because of this desire seemed off-note. And this isn't even touching on the fact that Tim believes Dick is all show and less fighting-and-thinking ability, thus making him easy to defeat, or the idea that he would be the best Robin to try and lose in the masts of ships. Dick, the circus boy, whom we have seen have fun with others using his acrobatic skills in high places and executing his abilities in astonishing ways that make him deadly in places others would easily trip up in. There are also issues with Tim's assessments of the other Robins. Look at Jason, pinning him solely as the aggressive Robin as yet another shallow interpretation of his character, and not just that but trying to equate that aggressiveness to protectiveness felt really wrong. I'm honestly getting tired of seeing this one-note in people's handling of Jason Todd, especially looking at who he was as Robin, what it meant to him, and who he has been, especially more currently, as Red Hood (for as little as we have gotten on that). I do think out of anyone, Tim would have a better assessment of Jason himself given how analytical Tim can be when it comes to those around him, and as pointed out in this very issue, how he seems to have plans to take them all down. Yet, the reasons for these weaknesses are really more examples of shoehorning to make Tim's internal monologue make sense rather than providing us with any real in-depth analysis on each of these Batfam members as would be more accurate to them. Again, this is a writing failure to really take into account Tim's detective abilities and show us how Batman-worthy they are (not saying Tim for Batman, but he's supposed to be on par with Bruce, right?). When it comes to Damian, Fitzmartin seems to vacillate back and forth between getting some of his characteristics right and then trashing them moments later. One minute he's Tim's precious baby brother, and then he's not violent or mean enough to be the real Damian. And Steph, to my understanding, while she was not as extensively trained as Dick, Jason, Tim, and Damian, still had some training under Bruce even if she experienced more with other Bat mentors and spent far less time under the Robin mantle. To say she had none either seems to imply this Steph has a different story arc none of us as readers are aware of here (which I can't discount given Fitzmartin has already shown a bad habit of running with things she has never fully explored or explained) or that Fitzmartin doesn't understand Steph's story to the extent one would have expected. That being said, Rossmo's art style definitely lends itself better to the villains in this story and their grotesqueness, but the pacing of some of the fight scenes didn't flow as well for me. Some went really well, some dropped the ball a bit. Not sure if this was because of the script or paneling choices in the end. You can definitely see where his style fits with the weird and strange, and I think it really worked in favor of what we saw with our bad guys, though there were several panels where I honestly could not tell we were dealing with Bernard and thought we had encountered another new character. If not for Tim's thoughts, I wouldn't have known in those initial panels. Now, the Bernard stuff. I honestly cannot, for any reason, fathom why Tim, as Robin, would have ever followed Bernard back to "his boyfriend's" boat. When he's actively being pursued by the police. Why would he risk being found on his boat, the one he uses as a civilian, and draw any potential attention toward it? This is one of my main problems with Tim Drake here - I've not known a dumber version of him, and this is not Tim's fault, but Meghan Fitzmartin's and her writing. Not only that, he takes off his entire costume and showers inside said boat while Bernard is still actively present (not together, mind you, but still on-premise). There was no need for him to do this. I get he's been fighting and is dirty and exhausted, but why again would Tim risk being found out? And then there's the fact that Bernard seems to have free access to Tim's boat, and yet Tim just leaves his Robin gear out in plain sight? How is this something he would do? When he frets and worries about even telling Bernard his true identity, yet the guy can get into his boat with no issue? It completely nullifies any real worry Tim has about being found out. Am I supposed to think this is some subconscious thing of Tim's, hoping Bernard just stumbles upon his identity and gets outed? Does Bernard already know because of all these mistakes Tim makes that we are now just playing witness to but Bernard is "too perfect" to say anything or maybe wants to play into the conspiracy of it all, and then we'll get some sort of plot twist or new thing thrown at us only for it to ring hollow yet again due to all this poor writing? Maybe it'll be more of that "true love angle" Fitzmartin seems to want to play where Bernard admits he always knew, but he loved Tim too much to say anything about it. At this point, I honestly don't care. I'm still in disbelief that Tim Drake is this openly stupid despite constantly being told by Tim himself how careful he's trying to be about not revealing who he is, how worried he is about being Robin, and what knowing that could mean for Bernard. Also, I'm pretty sure Darcy told Tim he had a "murder shed" in the first issue, so I don't get why Bernard talking about the "murder shack" boat came as such a shock to Tim when Darcy already played this joke with him. It feels like Fitzmartin forgot she already wrote that line because I can't see Tim forgetting something like that. He's supposed to be a good detective, right? As for Bernard's backstory bits we got here, I don't know if this is some sort of play to reconcile the Bernard we got way back in the day (you know, the one who thought Tim's stepmom was hot AF and was kinda skeevy?) with his own coming out issues, but I honestly wish we hadn't gotten it. I understand how important stories like that are, especially given the current political atmosphere, but I feel it takes away from Tim trying to find his own identity here. This maybe is something better addressed later on, when Tim seems a little more settled into himself, but perhaps this was an early push to add some depth to Bernard's otherwise bland characterization. Again, though, it's also a very common LGBTQ+ trope in a lot of stories (and yes, I also understand why), and part of me wishes we had seen something else as if the whole pain cult angst wasn't enough to deal with (and yes, I realize this was all tied together, but still makes me wish we weren't layering on the angst and pain with another love interest because there are so many other things you can do to make them interesting instead of what we're getting here). It honestly fell a little flat for me, but it may not for others in the community. While this was a more cohesive issue than her previous ones in this series, it still suffers from many of the same issues. Fitzmartin seems to lose track of her own story, the details of it at least, or is attempting to do callbacks that aren't very well executed in some instances. She also continues to show a very shallow understanding of the characters she has been given to work with, and I am once again left more baffled by Tim's lack of detective skills and situational awareness than impressed. His fight with the Robins was a cool concept, but again executed very poorly, and it seemed like the resolution to each fight was another bout of "convenient for the writing," but not in a way that made it believable. As with her former detective story tie-ins in the previous issues, the endings to Robin's problems here are unsatisfying at best, and instead of feeling like Tim is a fantastic detective or even some sort of badass fighter, I'm left feeling like I got a story hobbled together with loose ideas held together by duct tape for an explanation. She still spends far too much time telling us things than showing us, and when she does let the showing happen, it's so in-your-face or trope-ridden it's hard to feel anything genuine for these characters.

Tim Drake: Robin (2022) #4

Dec 29, 2022

Let me start by saying, having seen more comments about the matter, that Rossmo's art isn't the main issue here for me. While I do continue to agree that this style wasn't the best fit for a Tim Drake book, it's still a style that has its place in the industry. Part of the issue with the art, though, is that it gives us one sense of a story while the actual story itself provides another, and I feel that this disconnect remains. Again it begs the question — who is the target audience for this story? Is this supposed to be a YA-centric tale? A continuation of the Tim Drake we knew from before? If there is a specific audience in mind, then marketing has failed abysmally on this point (but I imagine they were hoping to capture that nostalgia crowd while also shooting for a brand new one), and I think that is, in part, why there is such a divisive, almost contentious air around this comic's reception. That being said, I don't think anyone at DC really knows who this story is for at this point. It feels a lot like they're fishing around for that audience and trying to see what lands and what doesn't, and in the process, it's hurting Tim Drake's reputation. But artwise, Loughridge continues to be fantastic on coloring, and starting with the last issue, Rossmo's art feels like has finally settled into itself for this story. (I don't know if this is a matter of "doing better work" on other comics or whether this is some stylistic adjustments made for this particular comic as some artists will shift their style, within their own style, to work with the setting/atmosphere a certain story is going for.) Rossmo, though, for me, is not the real problem with this comic. I can adjust to art style if the story is good, and the writing still remains horribly lackluster and disjointed, in my opinion. I'm beginning to wonder if the Tim Drake we are seeing here isn't being treated as some sort of blank slate. This idea of "Tim had no direction" and "Tim doesn't know who he is" rings very hollow when you read his previous runs. Within the first issue of Red Robin, I got a very clear idea of Tim and his emotional state, how he was reacting to the world and situations around him, and that told me we have a very defined person here, even if he is now trying to define himself outside of Robin. So, now I am questioning whether or not I'm supposed to be taking into account any of his previous history other than the fact that he once dated Steph and Cassie (take what you will of that based on her interpretation of that relationship for her Dark Crisis YJ run) and he became Robin. This current series almost seems as though it's taking a completely different direction, and asking previous readers (or new ones like me just discovering his old series) to forget who he had been so a new Tim Drake can be reconstructed as Fitzmartin believes he, as a character, should be, and not building on who he had already been. In this sense, it feels as if Fitzmartin is treating Tim as her own OC. Slapping a love of detective stories, saying "who am I if I'm not Robin," and giving him the costume does not Tim Drake make. He's a wonderfully nuanced character, and I'm just not seeing that here with him. Part of that being, as I've taken issue with before, is just how utterly stupid Tim seems here. You're talking about a guy who made plans for the plans he already had sometimes. There are things he picked up on from being with Batman. I do not understand why, when he knows he has this "stalker," he's leaving his windows clear open for anyone to look inside his boat, including while he is researching this case. (Or you know, for someone to snap pictures of him, because that was the drone there in that one shot, wasn't there?) You're telling me Tim knows this villain knows who he is, and he's just letting anyone and everyone peep into his boat? Also, why does he not have some sort of security system on this thing? The landlord just waltzed in. Villains break in. (Or maybe they waltzed in too!) He has done nothing to secure his place. Hell, why didn't he even have a tracker on Bernard if he was that concerned? Seems like something Tim might do and apologize later for if found out. Also, why not grill Bernard on "letting a superhero" onto his boat? Seems like a prime opportunity to bring home the fact that maybe you can't trust just anyone, Bernard, including vigilantes, even if they seem like the good guys, and maybe create some breathing room for his secret identity. Since that also seems to be a sticking point about keeping Bernard safe at this moment. I'm also not clear on why Bernard called out to him with "Superboy's biggest fan" when he easily could have just called him "Boy wonder" and gotten Tim's attention that way. We haven't even seen why Bernard would call Tim this unless I missed some sort of interaction with Tim Drake (as Tim Drake and not Robin), Bernard, and Superboy that would explain why Bernard feels getting Tim's attention with that was the best way to go about it. Also, again, how is Tim so distracted walking about the marina, with its rampant murders, and ends up caught off guard yet again by Bernard? These constant lapses in his judgment, given this escalating situation, only make Tim seem stupider than we all know he is. This also brings back home for me again how Fitzmartin tends to make assumptions about her own story by putting things that lack the context to hold them as she hasn't done to story work to bring the readers the understanding they need to place these little moments. You can certainly build up these little character idiosyncrasies, but they have to be placed well and eventually given context to uphold them. I do also think that instead of getting more insight into Bernard and building on his character, the scenes we got for him were only there to prop Tim up. Again, something that can be fine and well if Bernard were a better established character at this point, but right now, his only purpose in this comic seems to provide a counterpoint to Tim's old life rather than being someone who is just that important to Tim. We're once again told how important Bernard is and not really shown it. Even when saying he wants to protect Bernard, this is undermined by Tim then saying he can protect everyone almost immediately after. It diminished the importance of Bernard to me. Also, Tim's reaction to the kidnapping seemed to contain yet again little thought in interacting with this new villain (which would have been the prime place to put that internal monologue of Tim analytically dissecting this phone call and new voice!) and was far more reactionary than Tim Drake typically tends to be. Show us Tim saying one thing while breaking it all down in his head rapid fire! That would have been a great call back to his Red Robin series and how it worked there. I would also like to know how many times Bernard is going to get kidnapped because while this plot point is not new and is very often used and used again, it was literally the point of their introduction as a couple as we got to see it in his Pride/UL story. Which we basically just got. I know Fitzmartin herself said Bernard is there to be Tim's damsel-in-distress, but could we not? I did find the interactions with Steph very stilted, though, and not in that "we just broke up and are trying to figure our work relationship out now" sort of way. It was weirdly impersonal-personal. A few comments here and there that let you know Steph knows Tim better than an acquaintance but lacking any real warmth. Again, because we have so little to go on with these two since the breakup, you can argue this any number of ways as to why it plays out like that on the pages, but the one sticking point remains in that their situation was not handled well from the start. This was brought up back during the whole Pride event storyline, and it's showing itself again here. In conclusion, I still think this is a hot mess of a series. There are far too many discrepancies and contradictions in this story for me to suspend my belief reasonably. Comics do ask you to do that to varying degrees (hello, Batman #130), but Fitzmartin clearly struggles with voice here and doesn't seem to have a clear idea of who Tim Drake is herself, despite all her talk about it. Her writing is playing out far differently for me, and the more I see of previous Tim Drake stories, the clearer this is starting to become. It's unfortunate a character as amazing as Tim Drake is falling prey to this level of writing. He's truly great, worthy of standing there with any of his fellow Robins. As others here have said, I also highly recommend tuning into the Red Robin run if you haven't yet. But as far as this story goes, with this big new villain reveal, I'm not impressed. It's been a poor set-up all the way through, and this is beginning to feel more like a circus than a detective story with any weight behind it. (Apparently, my main review is way beyond the max here but you can read the whole thing over at

Tim Drake: Robin (2022) #5

Jan 25, 2023

Just when I thought Fitzmartin had finally left all those old detective stories alone, we're greeted with the most uninspired villain touting himself as worthy of comparison to the Joker. To be fair, this current version of Tim Drake is by no means giving Batman a run for his money at this rate either. Moriarty. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to take this seriously when nothing about this run has given us anything on par with Sherlock Holmes. This reads as a bad joke, one in which, yet again, Fitzmartin seems to think herself clever with it while once more burying any potential she had with this story in its failed detective aspects. Tim says he would have known about Bernard if he was the villain because the clues would have been right there for him. He supposedly knows Bernard that well. And yet, Tim, who is usually a few steps ahead (granted this doesn't mean he's always at the right place at the right time nor has it made him infallible), who is so quick to pick up on elements in his environments and how to make use of them, could not see what was glaringly obvious in his own boat and the marina he inhabits. He was utterly clueless until the very end. I would still like to know why James could just waltz onto Tim's boat. Does James actually own it, and like most apartment landlords, has the key and access to it 24/7 should he need it? Or does Tim own the boat and is simply renting out his space at the marina, which is usually the more common thing? I'm still baffled as to why Tim is running his Robin game out of this boat when so many people seem to wander in and out of it. It is in no way secure, and Tim has made absolutely no efforts to secure it either. Why didn't he have some sort of surveillance on the boat to know when it had been accessed? Sure, maybe I'd buy that if he's just renting the boat (but why would he ever rent something so utterly dilapidated then and impossible to secure?) and didn't want to tamper with it, but he'd tamper with hotel rooms so I don't see why a rented boat would make him less inclined for this. Again, this feels like something overlooked purely for the sake of making this plot point work instead of actually crafting a story that fit someone like Tim Drake and his approach. Especially if he knew about these drones watching him, knew anyone could be looking into his windows, see his gear which he seems to forget about, all his clues, which were meant for Robin and not Tim Drake, the civilian. If he wasn't already chasing James as a lead and setting him up, which clearly he wasn't, why didn't he take any security measures? Which again also makes me ask why he wasn't doing something to track Bernard if he was that concerned about this whole stalker thing and the murders at the marina. The way Fitzmartin writes Bernard the guy would forgive Tim for murder himself, so I don't see how Tim tracking him and apologizing later if found out wouldn't elicit the same response. It felt like a cheap set-up for Tim to angst over his "leaving" Bernard alone and "making it his fault." I get it, things like this happen, but the story doesn't lend itself well to this sort of melodrama, which seems better placed in the CW than what should be a comic of Tim Drake's caliber. Tim can be insecure. He does make miscalculations and mistakes. He is not infallible. However, this comes off more as a whiny teenager than someone who understands the stakes and has understood them for a good portion of his teen -college years (and what is Tim now because I swear he's supposed to be college-aged/early twenties even though so little of her writing between this comic and Dark Crisis:YJ reads like he is). It felt like watching a Tim Drake meltdown rolling into a temper tantrum with Dick, and instead of focusing and trying to solve anything, he's spending his time feeling sorry for himself and his inability to do anything while everyone around him does the work and tries to help. As others have pointed out, his reactions here feel like a complete regression of Tim's character instead of building on the work he did for himself as a character previously. It's painful to watch, and once more, I'm left wondering if this isn't Fitzmartin trying to build her idea of Tim Drake rather than utilizing the character most have known because it's starting to read a lot like someone rewinding a tape just to record over it. As for the "mystery" itself, we still have no idea how these creations (I'm assuming we're dealing with some sort of golem/homunculus given the clay and salts and alchemy here) are being made other than the clues given that Moriarty is into alchemy on some level at least. Again, why didn't Tim notice any of this before when he clearly had broken disc material to study from his previous encounters, or is there something about these discs that just POOF! once broken, leaving absolutely no trace of them for Tim to work with? It is still never explained how these things have been both intangible and tangible, sometimes to the tune of they can damage things, implying they are physical, and yet no one can hit them, and other times to the song of they're completely corporeal and Tim can climb into their guts. Speaking of, was there no residue at all on Tim for him to study from his Robin uniform to give him some sort of clue about their nature? He makes this claim of them being salt, was there nothing at all from any of his previous fights to take traces from? And Tim is aware that acid isn't the only thing that dissolves salt, right? He fell into water. Salts can be dissolved/transformed by any number of things, acidic or basic, including water, but depending on the composition of each component and the environment, you might make some unintended/volatile side products, which makes me question him just throwing any random acidic thing on these salt-based creatures. What sort of salt was used? Table salt? If so, why not utilize all the water around you to break them up? And what happened to just breaking the discs since that also seemed to work so well? I still struggle to understand how Tim seems so utterly stupid here. I mean the boy pukes on a shark monster, and I'm assuming he had to have eaten recently because if you have nothing on your stomach you will not puke up any sort of potent volume, certainly not the degree to which you'd need to dissolve a shark. So, did he take a midnight snack break with Dick out there? Most of the contents from your stomach should be passed into the rest of your gut within two hours, so again, where did all that come from if Tim has been searching all this time? Otherwise, he should have been dry heaving at best with that. (And to imply that Batman taught him how to puke on command seems. . .honestly, most people know how to make themselves puke, it's not some super secret Bat thing. Unless that's Tim referring to Bruce teaching him to think on his feet, in which case, I think Bruce may have some very serious questions about this whole fight. Also I'd just like to state that I'm not a fan of how Fitzmartin has thrown the Batfam under the bus before with Tim's comments and then contradicts them with things like this later on. One minute they're an inconvenience to who he wants to be and then the next they're vital parts of his history that he loves/respects. Yes, these things can co-exist but she writes it in such a jarring way it's like she has no idea at all who her version of Tim Drake actually is.) Don't even ask me how he escaped his quartering incident because it makes no sense. If these things were that easy to escape from then why were all our heroes having such issues with them across their various incarnations? And Moriarty. Given how Tim is being written, as quite frankly the dumbest iteration of Tim Drake out there, then, yeah, this villain fits him. That his sole purpose is to be a villain simply because being a goon wasn't enough, and yet having no actual aspirations for his villainy other than to be a villain is quite frankly idiotic. He's got no drive. Just another villain who wants to exist because a hero exists, and it honestly gives absolutely no stakes to the greater world for Tim Drake. Especially given who Moriarty was in the original work and how he went about things and why. There doesn't seem to be some big agenda here, just someone who wants to make Tim's life miserable (and maybe that's the point, someone to make Tim's self-indulgent angst valid), but if that's not the shoddiest bit of villainy there is. Not even a personal connection here to really play on. I mean at least Taylor's Heartless villain had a better build-up and story behind it. And the original Moriarty is so far above this sort of play it's almost painful to watch Fitzmartin use his name in this. The man would be rolling in his grave seeing someone take his name and yet act like this. Everything in this story reads as a caricature honestly. From Tim himself to this new villain of ours. Finally, Bernard certainly lives up to Fitzmartin's explanation that he's there to be a damsel in distress. It's borderline insulting at this point. (Don't think it escaped me either that we got both Tim and Bernard "bound and gagged" in this issue as well, all things she claimed spoke to their clear unspoken attraction back in their previous run together.) I'm tired of the typical damsel in distress plots. Bernard's already played it out once before, and now we have it again. Is this honestly all he's good for? To show us how incapable Tim Drake is as a detective and how all of Bernard's worth amounts to his ability to be kidnapped and rescued? Do we really need another "princess in the dragon's tower?" Because there's nothing new or genuine being told here with it. It's cliche. It's tired. And no, it's not "reclaiming" or "subverting" anything here. It's just poor storytelling.

Tim Drake: Robin (2022) #6

Mar 2, 2023

I still hold to the idea that Fitzmartin never had any intention of honoring the concept and legacy of Tim Drake but instead seems to have taken this as her cue to write whatever fantasy ideas she has of him. This isn't about "trying to live up to the images of other people." When given a character like this, it's about making them the best version of who you can while still honoring the roots set down. You may not follow every single branch that stemmed from their initial creation, but there still remains that steady trunk of who they are as a character, and she seems intent on cutting that down as well. The most glaring problem with this issue, as many others have already pointed out, is the idea that Tim wanted to be Batman. That he felt himself being set up for taking over the mantle, that his role as Robin was to one day step into Batman's role. He has stated on so many occasions that this is not something he has ever wanted, even if at times, he has donned the cowl. But Tim's whole point, one could argue, was to be the Robin who wanted to be Robin. It wasn't about being a cool sidekick and then taking on the name of Batman when it was time. Tim saw who Batman was without a Robin, what the loss of Jason was doing to Bruce, and he understood the real role of Robin. He approached Bruce with that very notion. It was not Bruce being unable to be Batman without a Robin, but what Batman was becoming without one. Bruce was still more than capable of acting as Batman, but the legacy of Batman, what he represented was in jeopardy, and Tim understood this. At least, this has been my understanding of their dynamic. And this is also why Tim has held a certain fear of becoming Batman. Because he knows himself and he understands what being Batman might do to him, who he might become, and that is not something he wants for himself. He's always had a level of calculated "fearlessness" when pushed, and it's partly why the role of Batman has registered as something he does not want for himself. Which makes this whole notion of Tim not understanding himself in this series something of a joke. Yes, he has insecurities, but he also has some very clear ideas of himself and, most importantly, things he does not want, including the role of Batman and why. This tells us Tim has had some sense of himself, that he hasn't been completely lost. So, I find this idea that Tim has no clue who he is and that he's only finding himself with the marina and Bernard really reductive. Sure, he might not have it all together and still find himself plagued by uncertainty, but to act like he has had no sense of who he is as a person is rather insulting. The real issue with him may actually be in coming to terms with some of this, and a big part of that has been (despite kind of being answered already in a previous series) what becomes of him after Robin. Not knowing yourself and coming to terms with what you want and how that fits into the world can be two very separate things. But that probably requires a level of subtlety and understanding Fitzmartin seems incapable of managing. That has probably been the biggest plague of this series. Fitzmartin's ideas remain all over the place. Take Moriarty. First, he wants Tim to be his ideal nemesis, then he talks about Tim joining him, which implies that rather than Tim taking him on as his main villain, they're working together to create this farce of an idea of them being better than Batman and Joker. Work with me or die. The level of villainy marriage proposals here was absolutely absurd in its execution. Again, nothing was really added to this story and this potential relationship between villain and hero. Rather, Fitzmartin continues to rely on tropes that she doesn't bother to dress up at all, and so they continue to fall flat in their execution. She hasn't given us any background to build upon as to why Moriarty is so set on having his Joker moment. What's his motivation here? Is it simply to be the next Joker? He's clearly not doing a great job of that. Is he supposed to be the next A-tier villain of the Batman world? Because he reads like a D-list one at best. Is the idea then that we haven't seen him at his worst, given the notion Tim threw out there about how he didn't do anything more than play with alchemic creations? Am I excited to see him again? No. Moriarty suffers from the same thing the marina itself suffers, that Bernard suffers, that Darcy suffers. Absolutely no build-up, no backstory, nothing at all to make a reader understand why we should care about any of this. He, along with all the others, made convenient plot devices for a plot that wasn't fully fleshed out. The whole final battle is just a repeat of the one Tim had with the fake Robins. There was nothing new there. Into the marina water you go, Moriarty. I still don't know how he got tangled in all that rope. He clearly falls on top of and slightly in front of it, untangled, in one panel, and then Tim kicks the anchor off, and suddenly the rope is twisted all around him. Not how kicking an anchor would go aside from the one hand shown pushed into a loop based upon his previous positioning. Maybe I missed something there, but I've looked at those panels multiple times and none of it makes sense. I suspect it's the writing not making clear what was going on. It looks like there was a missing scene here or a failure to understand how that mechanic might work and what would be needed to execute it properly. Again, it seems more of a moment where Fitzmartin probably thought it would be cool and didn't care about the reality of writing it. I was also bothered by the idea that Moriarty put out there that the role of Robin has been keeping Tim down. It again reminds me of a lot of the other backhanded comments made throughout this series as far as Tim's past goes and this idea of having to put down his previous life in order to prop up his new one. Tim has loved being Robin. I do agree about him finding his next role like Dick and Jason have done, but to imply that Robin is somehow detrimental to him felt like a cheap shot, especially given the history of why he chose to take on that role. He's accomplished a lot as Robin, which led to other things for him, all of which it seems Fitzmartin is ignoring here. Maybe a smaller complaint in this issue, and only one I have, but that moment grated on me a bit. She also contradicts her own idea of Tim in this issue, where she tells us on one page he's felt like nothing has been in control in his life, and then follows it a little later by saying he wants to be less structured and less careful about things. He talks about the deaths he couldn't prevent, which is juxtaposed by the one he could with Bernard at the last second. Again, this idea of using his past to support the "idealness" of his current life. It fell flat. The way everything here is written to show that what he has now is the best for him while ignoring all the good he's had in his life with the Batfam just registers as a really sad and hollow attempt to make us care about this current situation when in reality the absolute failure of the writing and story itself to convey that is what's truly at fault. But instead of addressing those issues, we're constantly being told over and over that this life is Tim's best life without any of the story actually supporting it. But part of who Tim is as a character is his ability to calculate and weigh the situation and the outcomes. It's what makes him a great detective (which again he clearly has not been in this story so far when you have a villain basically hand-feeding him the answers to the problems - which also makes this idea of Tim being "unable" to say no to the puzzle really hilarious). This reminded me once more of how Fitzmartin seems to be telling us her intent to change his character to who she thinks he should be rather than working with who he is and all that makes him great. Bernard also remains incredibly flat as a character despite a little more page time here. The way Tim used "my Bernard" on that first page felt really weird and strangely possessive to me when we still have no idea why he cares so much about this guy. He's never acted like this before with him, and now suddenly, here we are with this "my" thing and then he's still not even sure they're actually boyfriends until they declare it in the last scene. It felt forced and out of place. And by the time I got to that last scene, instead of finding it cute, I found myself rolling my eyes at it all. I still don't understand how Bernard got chosen as the main love interest here given his actual history in Tim's life, but Fitzmartin has given me nothing to want to overlook that part and embrace the Bernard we have right now. And the same thing goes for the marina (and these people just lost their supposed landlord - which no one seems to question since it doesn't seem like anyone knew James was our big baddie here - so what's going to happen now with that when you've got this supposed gentrification plot waiting to happen?) and all the people in it. And then you have Detective Williams just showing up to a major fight and having no backup at the start, just him and Darcy (and yes, I know Fitzmartin has painted EVERY other cop here aside from Detective Willams as the worst of the worst but still, protocols and civilian protection have to amount to something I would think). You don't even see these supposed other cops, only a bunch of civilians cheering Tim on, which again keeps painting this picture of how it's Tim's ideal life and setting, and it's just him against this outside world, asking us to ignore everything good that had happened to Tim before he knew Bernard and the marina. I honestly don't find a single thing about this setup intriguing anymore.

Tim Drake: Robin (2022) #7

Mar 29, 2023

I realize this was supposed to be some sort of feel-good backstory for these two boys. We got to see more of Bernard and where he comes from. We got to see a cute little date scene despite the villainy hijinks. But when you look back as to how we got here, there's so little foundation that it still felt really flat to me. It's been incredibly frustrating to read, to see the lack of work put into this story, and yet to have these moments that are supposed to draw you in as a reader and the expectation that we are to give accolades for it. We're sitting before a magician, not knowing how the trick works, but tada! look and be amazed at what just happened. And that works for a magic show because we like the wonder, we like the element of the unknown there, but it doesn't work when you build a story and expect investment from the reader. Instead, everyone is looking for the next trick. It's dissatisfying, all the more so when you know what Tim is capable of as a superhero, as a human being, and he's been reduced to the "always-online bisexual." His whole point in this issue was to prop up Bernard, and it came at the expense of him as a capable superhero. We watched him fumble and stumble, making mistakes he never should have made, and yet he did, all to push Bernard's story forward instead of letting Bernard be a natural part of his. DC should have ended this title after the last issue and spared Tim the further deconstruction of his character.

Tim Drake: Robin (2022) #8

Apr 26, 2023

So, yes, the art is better, and the plot proved a little more linear, with fewer distractions, but the writing still leaves a whole hell of a lot to be desired. Fitzmartin continues to struggle with understanding who Tim is, with showing genuine character interactions, and the continued failures here render me completely underwhelmed with this new arc. I still don't feel much for the characters, even with all the angst we got here and that cliffhanger we ended on. Honestly, it's a tired plot with the whole amnesiac "killer" sporting blood they can't explain on their body. The only remotely interesting thing about it was her falling from the sky (and somehow not breaking or fracturing a single thing or receiving a concussion or any other sort of bodily injury - how far did she fall from that only her shadow was noticed and nothing else?). I know this thing is limping toward its end, but honestly, DC should have called this at issue #6 and saved everyone the further damage and pain.

Tim Drake: Robin (2022) #9

May 25, 2023

The way this story arc has been written, it's clearly aiming for these emotional hits and getting people to react to these moments. The story and its characters have taken a distant second. In Fitzmartin's attempt to create a constant run of angst and drama, it seems she's forgotten what you actually need to make any of those plot beats resonate: defined characters with readers invested in them and a plot that builds upon itself to those big moments. She instead leaps from one point to another. Again that sense of "and then this happened, and this happened, and this happened..." plagues this issue. So much of this series, in general, could have benefited from an editor looking at the various scenes and asking what purpose they served to the overall plot, and could there not have been a better way to convey those things. At this point, Tim's incompetency is the only thing really pushing this story forward, which is just sad for one of the best detectives in the DC universe. If you can't write a story without obliterating your characters to tell it, you either need a new set of characters personally crafted for the telling (original characters) or another writer. This series only works if you dismantle who Tim Drake is and dress up another character in his likeness.

Tim Drake: Robin (2022) #10

Jun 30, 2023

Here we are, the final issue. To start, yes, the ending felt rushed. However, I don't think that's something anyone on the team can be blamed for given the way this was abruptly canceled mid-arc. In that situation, you do what you can to create some sort of ending place, which means there are a lot of loose strings left unattended to. Could this have benefitted from a few extra pages at the bare minimum to achieve a better stick on the landing? Yes, but that's unlikely something this team was given. I do think the art suffered a little more in this issue compared to the previous ones. Not quite as up to par with what I've seen from Cizmesija, both in this series and in the Azrael series. That may also be the result of a shift in the story due to its ending and any potential rush to finish things for it. Overall, though, I still enjoy Cizmesija's work, and I thought the coloring continued to be fantastic in this. The writing, however, remains the weakest part of this series. This idea of Tim being "all woe is me" is something that was almost comical in its statement because this whole series has been nothing but Tim lamenting his various lots in life, in many cases in direct contradiction to previous interactions and thoughts he has had within the series itself. He doesn't even seem to be consistent in his own self-pity at this point. As I look back on this series, what I see is an attempt to craft another avenue for Tim using similar plot beats to Red Robin but failing spectacularly to deliver the depth and progression that series had already achieved. I don't think there's anything wrong in taking that approach, in looking for a new way forward for a character who has truly needed to move into new territory for himself, but you need to deliver on that front, especially if you are walking down already trodden paths. TDR has failed issue after issue to show us anything worth following.

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