On a Boat
This issue actually has a really cool cover, it's just a bit misleading. It's got a very somber and dejected Red Robin, while the Red Robin we have in this issue is probably the least like that since the New 52 began. However, the whole day and night, light and dark motif behind him, with Raven and Dr. Light with arms outstretched, is damn beautiful, and actually a good representation of the story arc being set into motion. Also interesting to note the 'In the Wake of Death of the Family" banner across the top, I once again have to wonder why Nightwing's cover didn't get one.
It's kind of interesting how this is 'in the wake of Death of the Family,' and yet it's the prologue to a new arc. But like the last issue, this one's way too all over the place. I feel like it wasn't such a great idea to dive into the new arc with a teenage metahuman suffering at the hands of a scientist/doctor who specializes in helping out teen metahumans. It seems unrelated but it SCREAMS Harvest. And being unrelated makes it feel like the villains are going to overlap already. And then there's another scene that establishes no direct tie to anything, just a man killing people instantly with some kind of glowing brain thing. With all the connected ties here, this one sticks out like a sore thumb, not appearing to have any relation to any other plot points. There's another scene with Miguel's family that appears only connected by Miguel but not any of the currently important plot points. It's also incredibly confusing.
Eddy Barrows' artwork has been kind of hit or miss on Nightwing, and while there's plenty of great looking scenes in this issue, overall there's a lot of awkward panels. Miguel especially looks completely different than before, and most of the heavily shadowed scenes look really messed up. Raven looks AMAZING from the side, but pretty terrible head on. Her redesign definitely intrigues me, especially with her still stuck in her father's control. It's different, but so badass.
A BIG story is building in the pages of Teen Titans, a war between Raven and Dr. Light, or perhaps a team-up? Either way, these two forces seem to be the epitome of their elements, and their elements being light and darkness creates the implications of a story on an epic scale. This issue being a prologue to that story is apt, because we're only teased about these two forces, while the Teen Titans themselves begin a whole newfound status quo.
A lot of this issue is built upon great character interaction. The team's been in constant hectic situations, this is the first time they've really been able to settle into a calm and just bee teenagers. Red Robin's initial scene has a lot of awkwardness and confusion, but as he bonds with the rest of the team things get really heartwarming. Although I have to say, did everyone just forget about Skitter? She hasn't even been mentioned in months. As the issue continues, Tim goes beyond his new openness, and actually turns into a bit of total asshole. Not an insulting and angry asshole, but a womanizing dick. It really messed with the perception of the entire team I'd had up to this point. But the end of the issue explains everything, and makes the writing stronger, that I noticed the problem, started to hate the character, and then got an explanation. It might also explain his odd actions in this week's Fury of Firestorm.
The only thing about the final page reveal is that.... it appears to be a repeat of Return of the Joker. It's even the same person, Tim Drake appears to be possessed by The Joker. At least Joker's not dead in his normal body, but clearly he planted some kind of mind control or seed in Red Robin or SOMETHING. It's really nice to see just how big an effect Death of the Family had on the Batman Family, and it really establishes Joker as an absolute GENIUS mastermind of manipulation and misdirection.
In Conclusion: 3.5/5
As much as I love the smoother character interaction and the right hook of the plot twist at the end, this issue just didn't come together well. The artwork was off, and the story is massively overstuffed. But the good parts were pretty much all in the main narrative, and the main narrative was pretty good. I'm hesitant about the direction this plot twist will take the series in, but it could easily avoid that.