When you’ve been out of the country for a few months, hoping to find yourself and clues to the disappearance of your adopted father, your return to your hometown better be monumental. Red Robin (YUM) is back, and he’s ready to bring Tim’s Justice to those that prey on the weak.
Previously in Red Robin: Convinced that his adopted father is still alive somewhere, Tim Drake donned the mask of Red Robin (YUM) to scour the planet looking for clues to Bruce Wayne’s disappearance. Along the way he met killers, lovely ladies, and was smart enough to destroy Ra’s Al Ghul’s League of Assassins. With his global work accomplished, and knowing full well that Bruce is lost in time, Tim is back in Gotham and looking for direction in life.
THE GREATEST BATMAN OF THEM ALL
This issue kicks off in the only way it could; with Red Robin, Robin, and Batman – three brothers from other mothers, taking flight across the rooftops of the city they have vowed to protect. There’s something special about this sequence that says a lot more on a human level than anything spelled out in the narrator boxes that adorn the the pages.
I got heavily into comics at the same time Jason Todd was being shown the bloody exit. So in a sense, I’ve followed and have been a fan of Tim Drake since his first appearance in 1989. Through the various writers, company wide events, and Bat-crossover after Bat-crossover, readers who have been following the character for as long have seen him grow to a very capable detective and someone who could probably be the greatest Batman of them all.
Red Robin’s return to Gotham does leave him with a bit of a problem; that of where to live, what to do, and more importantly, who to do it with. Yes, that is actually one of Tim’s big dilemmas. While Dick is off messing around with the JLA, and Damian continues to be Damian, Tim takes it upon himself to hunt down and bring in all of Batman’s rogues that are still at large, including The Joker. Perhaps Nicieza should have a chat with Grant Morrison about that, as I think the two writers really need to have a chat about where Tim fits into the whole Bat family at this point. Tim really works as a stand alone hero at this point, but when he’s in Gotham, he seems to be the awkward stepchild that no one wants to talk about. And that is a real shame.
While readers are allowed into Tim’s inner thoughts, they aren’t given every little detail, especially when it comes to Red Robin taking down Lynx in an attempt to restore order to the Gotham gangs that looks to erupt once again before the year is out. I like the big reveal that Lynx has been working as an undercover agent for the Hong Kong Police Force, and I like it even better that Tim doesn’t really give a crap about international investigations and instead throws her in jail to send a message to all the villains of Gotham.
If anything, this issue has convinced me that it should have been Tim Drake under the cowl as Batman. He’s a strong character, has developed well over the years, and proves time and time again he can solve a problem faster than other heroes we’ve seen. However, considering his display of force has sent a message that Red Robin is not to be trifled with, I like what Favian Nicieza is doing in this opening chapter of Dick’s return to Gotham City.
Riding along side Nicieza’s fine story is the art by Marcus To. It is so easy for artists to fall back on stock human forms, making all heroes look alike in a big panel spread. However, To took the time to not only define each character and their build, but he went so far as to even show that they rely on different equipment to get the job done, as evidenced in the two page splash that features the team swinging across the city with their grappling gear.
The art continues to build from there, as page after page is full of detail that not only makes Gotham City look big and full of life, but also the smaller locations. When Red Robin uses his high-tech gear to spy on Lynx in the back room kitchen meeting, the room is full of detail that lets the reader know where the even it taking place, and he even goes so far as to dirty the location up, so it doesn’t look like it was created just for this one scene – it actually looks like it has been a working environment for years.
Coming from the film and video world, I usually pay close attention to screen space and visual continuity from panel to panel, and during the big fight between the foes, To takes the time to show the action line being crossed. It’s this attention to detail that earns a lot of point with me as a reader and visual creator.
BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT
Since the series’ beginning, there have been a few plot elements, and storylines that were a tad out there, and more than likely a bit over the top. However, Red Robin #13 puts Tim back in his element, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Whether he teams with another hero, or remains a stand alone crime fighter with guest appearances by Dick and Damian, this issue gave new life to this series. It’s a great jumping on point for any new reader, and I’m giving it 4.5 out of 5 Stars.