By Chris Yost (writer), Ramon Bachs (artist), Art Thibert (inker), Guy Major (colorist)
Some Thoughts Before the Review: As a former Marvel-head, I’m just getting into the modern Batman mythos. I started at the Battle for the Cowl and thought the new Red Robin series would also be a great place to take a deeper plunge.
The Story: Tim Drake (now Tim Wayne) continues his search for Bruce Wayne whom everyone else believes is dead. To do this, he’s turned his back on his old life and friends because no one shares his faith. He does this also because he knows that to find Bruce, he’ll have to use methods that aren’t exactly above the board. He wants nothing he does in his quest to reflect on the new Batman and Robin. So the story goes on as Drake is jumped by a dangerous trio of assassins. The action is also interrupted by a series of flashbacks and flash forwards. By the end of the issue, Red Robin concludes that one other person believes Wayne is alive, but it turns out this news is about as welcome as realizing the devil is batting after you.
What’s Good: Tim Drake is a compelling character who can certainly carry a story, as he proved in the long-lived Robin series and his work with the Teen Titans. But there’s something more here. Drake has lost a father figure and he is seized with a fervency of mission that is gripping for any reader. We’re edging onto obsessive, but because we can understand so much of what Drake lost (we all lost Batman), we can buy into that kind of intensity. Every reader loves a hero who is alone, disbelieved and on the run.
Part of the charm of this book is also watching Drake grow up in the continuing DCU reaction, created by Batman’s death. I caught the last few issues of Robin just before the Battle for the Cowl started and there’s a difference between that Robin and this Red Robin. While Dick Grayson is growing into big shoes and young Damian is growing into smaller shoes, Drake is just plain growing up. It’s a bit like what Grayson went through when he became Nightwing. There’s no easy path to adulthood for him. It is a coming of age story and we get to see Drake at the ground floor of his transformation. Nowhere is this better seen then in the fight between Red Robin and the assassins. He’s on his own. Any slip and he’s dead, and on top of that pressure, he’s using new fighting styles, a new voice and new equipment. We get to watch him worry about whether he’s going to pull off this grown-up, fatherless identity.
What’s Not So Good: His former life reaches out to him many times in this issue. However, I don’t think that Yost has done a good enough job yet of justifying to us why Tim needs to do this quest for Bruce Wayne on his own. Tim has surely built up enough credibility that even if people don’t believe Bruce Wayne lives, they would accompany Drake out of loyalty (like Green Arrow and Green Lantern).
Conclusion: A solid read, well worth following. I’ll be back for more Red Robin.