High Five! Comics

Red Robin: The Comic (Not the Restaurant)

Posted on: August 20, 2009

Looking through my comic collection, I see that I somehow wound up owning the end of every Robin’s career as the sidekick. I’ve got The New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, where Dick Grayson decides that he’s a little old to be running around rocking underoos and becomes Nightwing. I’ve got Batman: A Death in the Family where readers decided to kill off Jason Todd forever and ever and nevermind. And now, I’ve got Red Robin #1-3.

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Now that Bruce Wayne is busy getting his skull licked by the Black Hand in Blackest Night (ew) and Battle for the Cowl is over, Dick Grayson has surprised absolutely nobody by taking over the role of Batman. First order of business? Taking the Robin uniform off of Tim Drake (who wants to be known as “Tim Wayne” from here on out) and putting it on Damian (who refuses to call Tim anything but simply “Drake”). Obviously, this is the kind of snivelling brattery that might make the now former sidekick cranky. So Tim has a little pissy fit, slaps Damian (dude, Damian almost killed you in Batman and Son and all you can do is bitchslap him?), knocks over some shit around Wayne Manor, then comes to the conclusion that Bruce Wayne ain’t dead. Revelation!

Tim decides to find Bruce, taking up the tarnished mantle of Red Robin, a persona already used by both Jason Todd (in Countdown to Final Crisis) and Ulysses Armstrong (formerly known as both the General and the shitty version of Anarky). Along the way, Tim is both helped and hindered by a bizarre assortment of characters including friends Cassie Sandsmark and Stephanie Brown (in what may be her last appearance in her Spoiler persona [It’s her second to last. Maybe. -M]), and enemies; the Wild Huntsman (who hasn’t been seen in, like, fifteen years or something and I’m pretty sure is dead), and finally, fucking Ra’s al Ghul.

One of my favorite things about this book is Chris Yost’s decision to use Tim Drake’s thoughts as the entire framing narrative. But there’s no Green Arrow preachiness, here. Instead, you get captions involving everything from the inane (when he blocks a punch by a Spanish guy with robot fire hands, the caption reads “Manos de fuego?”) to Tim judging his own actions immediately after he does them (“Stupid, catching that punch”). You’re along for the ride in Tim Drake’s head, which makes the entire story that much more relate-able.

I’m also digging the art of Ramon Bachs (most famous for some Front Line Marvel work and, holy shit, Dark Horse made a Shrek book?). His drawing of the Wild Huntsman in issue three had me rolling. I don’t know if it was supposed to be funny or not, but in a story with a much lighter tone than pretty much everything else going on in the DCU right now, I found it totally absurd in the best way possible. Unfortunately, Bach only has the gig until issue five. Oh well!

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Anyway, this book is awesome enough that I broke my wait-for-the-trade rule. Totally worth getting into if you’re into the Batman: Reborn story line. If you’re gonna drink with this book, knock back some Arrogant Bastard ale since most of the characters in Red Robin seem to be, well, arrogant bastards.

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