When we last left Tim Drake, he and his new compatriot Clyde Rawlins have had to lay low on the outskirts of Paris while looking into the plans of the Ghost Dragons and their master – King Snake.
Robin (1991) #3
Written by Chuck Dixon
Penciled by Tom Lyle
Inks by Bob Smith
Lettered by Tim Harkins
Colors by Adrianne Roy
Edited by Denny O’Neil and Dan Raspler
We open with Lady Shiva introducing herself and, inside, gives the identity of King Snake, and lets Tim know that she also knows Batman. She also tells Robin what she knows of King Snake’s plans and Tim does some digging. Krieger, the scientist whose lab King Snake was looking for, was a chemist for the Nazis who had a lab near Auxille, which was never found. Tim figures it was set up in a Maginot Line bunker near there, and they set out immediately.
On the way, Clyde & Tim discuss Lady Shiva and Krieger, while Shiva listens in on a bug that she planted in their car. Krieger apparently specialties from chemical weapons to biological weapons in order to avoid “violating the Geneva convention” – counting him as someone who preferred to follow the letter of the law instead of the spirit.
They arrive to see the Ghost Dragons with a Truck near an entrance to the tunnels. Lady Shiva vanishes, while Tim & Clyde sneak in another entrance. once inside, they run into some of the Ghost Dragons, before Robin is captured and brought before Lynx, while Clyde splits off in a running firefight. Lynx shows her true colors and taunts Robin. However, all of the gunfire and explosions from earlier have awakened the other residents of these tunnels – a swarm of bats – allowing Robin to make his escape in a clear Batman: Year One reference.
Robin chases after Lynx, only for Clyde to open fire on them, forcing Robin to break off to keep him from killing somebody. Robin and Clyde give chase in a motorcycle with a sidecar. Robin uses a sling to stun one of the guys, but the motorcycle ends up being disabled. Clyde’s busted rib puts him out of action, while Robin lands safely and is able to pursue.
Robin makes it to the airstrip just in time to see the plane with its cargo leave, and to see that while Shiva’s Porsche is totaled, she stopped one of the crates from being loaded on the plane, killing a considerable number of Ghost Dragons in the process.
Meanwhile, in Spain, King Snake is buying a medieval water clock of massive proportions. Well, “buying” is a generous term – Dorrance is a man who follows the “silver or lead” school of negotiations. In his car, he takes a call from Lynx with an update – she’s on the way with the cargo. However, she lies about having killed Rawlins and Robin and does not mention Lady Shiva at all.
Back in France, Shiva informs Rawlins and Robin that the cargo is headed for Hong Kong, so they catch a Concorde. Rawlins and Tim fly in coach, while Lady Shiva books all of First Class. During the fight, Tim uses some files he swiped from the American Medical Association and the label of the canister to find what Dorrance was after – the Bubonic Plague.
So, the reveal at the end of this volume is one of those things that probably sounded creepy as hell at the time, but some internet searching makes it… less so. At the time this issue came out – widespread application of antibiotics in response to outbreaks could drop mortality from 40-60% to 1-15%, and the samples in those containers – if still viable – would not have developed anti-biotic resistance.
Even if this was a Nazi-Engineered super-version of the disease, they still likely would have not been engineering for anti-biotic resistance, since mass production of penicillin was probably relatively new.
That aside, this was a good issue – I like that we got the Robin/Lynx thing out of the way. Also, fitting in a Batman: Year One callback was a nice touch.