Before becoming Batman’s sidekick, the young Robin was Dick Grayson, an acrobat part of a family circus act called ‘The Flying Graysons’. Michael Moreci, Sas Milledge and Phil Hester re-imagine Dick’s circus life as a teenager in the graphic novel ‘The Lost Carnival’. DC fans will have to assume this story is set in a completely different universe, since Robin loses his parents when he just eight in the Batman comics, but here he is well into his late teens and quite angst-y about life.
While I was expecting lavish colorful comic panels, the artwork has a limited palette, but still managed to enthrall me. The book feels like a slow-motion vintage reel, set in a lost time, before the existence of invasive technology took over our lives. The story unfortunately wasn’t arresting at all. It’s a rushed muddled romance about how Dick Grayson falls in love with a mysterious girl who works for a rival traveling company called ‘The Lost Carnival’ that’s eating away the earnings of the circus Grayson’s family performs for.
So, there’s the age-old ‘star-crossed lovers’ trope – two kids from rival groups falling for each other, just as quickly and ridiculously as Romeo & Juliet. Grayson’s best-friend however finds out there’s more to ‘The Lost Carnival’ than meets the eye and trouble soon starts to brew between the two camps. Honestly, if it weren’t for the artwork, it would’ve been extremely difficult to keep my interest up in the story. Everything is too random, too cliched and even though it wasn’t predictable as such, it wasn’t enjoyable. It feels like the creators were a little lost about what to do with this tale or lacked the time and space to do better.
Anybody picking this up for a gritty dark Robin origin story is probably going to be disappointed. The story is far too different from life in Gotham, mixing fantasy, black-magic and what not. It would be best to treat it as a standalone comic that’s got nothing to do with the Batverse.
It’s a 3/5 from me.