Being a masked crime fighter has its advantages; your anonymity makes you somewhat terrifying, while protecting those closest to you. On the other hand, once your secret is out, the criminal element can pass and share that information faster than a wild rumor that Bruce Willis is in the next Batman movie. For Tim Drake Wayne, the return to Gotham has not only given him a new mission, it’s given those who want to reveal secret identities a renewed reason to break the big story.
RED ROBIN #15
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Marcus To
Inks: Ray McCarthy
Colors: Guy Major
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover: To, McCarthy, and Brian Buccellato
Editor: Mike Marts and Sean Ryan
Publisher: DC Comics
Previously in Red Robin: Robin has a plan – take out all his enemies before they can take down him. It’s a big plan, but one that he has put a lot of time, effort, and energy into. He can’t let anything go wrong, or let anyone stand in his way if he hope to succeed. If he has to take down Damian, no problem, but when reporter Vicky Vale starts snooping around, the Wayne paranoia begins to show.
Tim Drake or Tim Wayne
Regardless of what Matthew may say, Tim Drake was adopted by Bruce Wayne several years ago, and legally his name is Tim Wayne. Nicieza takes that confusion among readers and fans, and plays around with it quite a bit in this issue, jumping back and forth from Wayne, to Drake, and back again, before clearing up any lingering confusion – his name is legally Tim Wayne, but when he looks in the mirror, he’s always Tim Drake. As fun as the banter may be, the bigger problem is that of his Red Robin secret identity. With more non-heroes figuring out what he does for fun, Tim needs to give everyone a swerve worthy of the Silver Age.
Back in the long, long ago, whenever Lois Lane came close to discovering Superman’s secret identity, he would always figure out a way for Clark Kent and Superman to be in the same location at the same time. It’s a gimmick that has worked for nearly every superhero throughout time, and Tim wants to employ the same tactic. Knowing that an assassin is targeting Tim, he plans an elaborate press conference to out the two police officers that have been giving him grief these last couple of months. He knows the assassin Scarab won’t pass up the opportunity to take a shot, and he knows Vicky Vale won’t pass up a chance to cover the Wayne family.
The plan works perfectly, with Tim getting shot in the gut, while Red Robin captures Scarab in the process. What readers learn behind the scenes is that former Teen Titan M’gann M’orzz was in on the big switch-a-roo, and Tim is willing to play up the serious spine injury gag for the next year to really throw Vale off the trail.
While other writers are literally bringing back the Silver Age in their books, Nicieza takes a trope of the period and works it into his tale, without the need to turn the universe back 50 years. At the same time, he does introduce a story twist that will force him and other writers to work creatively to keep Tim in leg bracers for the next 12 months, or three issues, depending on what Batman editors decide to allow.
BLOODY VIOLENT ART
As an “all ages” book, Red Robin contains about as much violence as one might see in a Tarantino film. Fortunately, Tim getting a through and through to the gut, and the shocking way Red Robin brings down the Scarab are handled tastefully by Marcus To.
To is also able to create large crowds of people and scenery while keeping vanishing points and rendering correct. I also like that To spends some time giving everyone a unique outfit to wear. I’ve grown weary of characters all wearing the same cut suit with a different color, or the same style of pants on every single character. To takes the time to give everyone a unique look, and ensures that the outfit doesn’t change from panel to panel, shows he’s willing to spend the extra time to make the universe seem real.
BOTTOM LINE: WORTH IT
There is nothing out right outstanding or unique in this story – it’s a bridge story that further develops Tim’s personality and planning techniques, while giving readers a chance to figure out how he is going to pull off the big con. The writing and art are solid for the third chapter stretch, and is worth checking out. Red Robin #15 is one of the better Bat Family books out there, earning 3 out of 5 Stars.