It's Good to be Back
I collected the first two issues of this book. I managed to borrow #3-5 from a friend, but I simply couldn't afford to keep collecting the book. But a while ago, one of the books on my pull list was cancelled, and I've been debating what book I should replace it with. There was Invincible Iron Man, Captain America, one of the Avengers books, or many other choices. But I've enjoyed Fabian's writing in the past. And from what I've seen of To's art, the phrase 'OMG' springs to mind. So I decided to go for Red Robin.
I think I made the right choice.
I collect two other Batbooks, 'Batman' and 'Batman & Robin', and this issue alone was much better than those two. For starters, the art. The main Batman book has jumped around with the art, going from Bagley (who was good, but not really well suited to Batman, imo), to Daniel (who was also good, but kinda weak at times due to writing the book as well) to now Florea (who I'm just personally not a fan of, but that could be the inks/colours). Batman and Robin has jumped around even more, since it changes artists every three issues or so, and I have to say... None of the artists on B&R have been particularly amazing. I'd say the best out of the bunch was Tan, but even he had his flaws (like his awful rendition of Jason, for example). The writing on the main Batman book has been very hit and miss lately. Tony stuffed way too many characters into his Black Mask arc and #699 honestly just baffled me. And while Grant Morrison is good, I'm already getting bored of all this 'clues from the past' stuff in B&R. Get to the point, Grant.
Enough about those books. Onto Red Robin. The art in this book is superb. I'd say, out of the comics I picked up this month, RR has the best art of the bunch. That includes Ig Guara's Pet Avengers (and I LOVE his art), Renato Guedes' Batman/Superman Annual #4 and even Chris Bachalo on Spider-man (and Chris Bachalo is one of my favourite Spidey artists). But let's not just put all that down to Marcus To. His pencils are incredible, but praise where it's due, so are the colours. Guy Major did a great job here, the tone of the colours setting the tone for each scene. And the inkers, Ray McCarthy and Mark McKenna (quite a coincidence they both have McSurnames, hehe) were pretty much perfect. Oh, and the new costume is a vast improvement on the old one. I'm glad they added the spikes on the gloves and gave him a proper belt. And I think I'm probably the only person on the Vine who actually LIKES the Red Robin costume...
The writing was excellent, I expect nothing less from Fabian. What's really great is that the Tim Drake here doesn't seem dramatically different from the Tim I read in the first issue. Sure, he has a different mission, but you can tell it's the same character. The banter between Tim and Damian was fun, which is good, because I really like Damian. And I love that he's becoming the irritating little brother of the Batfamily. That's one of my favourite aspects of this Batman Reborn universe, that the Bat-family really do feel like a family. Brothers and sisters, working together despite their dysfunctionality, while the eldest brother (Dick) tries to take Dad's place.
I really like Tim Drake, as you can probably tell by my avatar. And I'm glad to see that he's still a great and unique character even in the Red Robin suit. While he's clearly not as graceful and efficient a fighter as Dick, his intelligence and planning set him apart. And here, Tim has a master plan. Sure, we don't know what the plan is, but the fun is in finding out, right? The dialogue and monologues throughout the book was great. Grant Morrison does a good job with the Bat-banter, but he fails miserably whenever he has Batman call Alfred "Alfie". For that reason, Fabian is the new king of Bat-banter.
There were only a couple of pages I didn't particularly like, but that's probably because I haven't kept up with the series. I can't, for the life of me, figure out a situation where it makes sense for Tam to tell Vicki Vale she is engaged to Tim. It's just a little confusing. The Waynegagement thing has me baffled, but at least Lucius Fox was there to awesome it up a little.
So, overall, the writing was great, the art was great, the dialogue was great, the fight scene was great, the story has me interested and aside from my confusing about Tim/Tam, I loved this issue. I'm looking forwards to the next one!