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They Aren’t Kids Anymore

April 21, 2010

     Batgirl #8 and Red Robin #10 continue the story of Red Robin’s return to Gotham City and his meeting with his former girlfriend, Stephanie Brown, the current Batgirl.  He finds her in the Batcave, and they spar verbally until Leslie Thompkins’ clinic computer is hacked.  Oracle has an interesting date with a cop, and after investigating the clinic, Red Robin and Batgirl end up going to a party to keep an eye on Leslie.  This is Tim Drake’s first public appearance in Gotham City in a while, so that causes a stir.  Oracle tries to figure out why all the cellphones and the internet aren’t working, and Tim and Stephanie take out the assassins sent after Leslie.  Supergirl gives an assist by destroying the satellite that was blocking communication, and just as Tim and Stephanie start having a moment together on the rooftops, Pru shows up.  Pru states that the League of Assassins has been ordered to kill various people surrounding Tim, and her target is Stephanie.  After she pulls out a gun, Stephanie kicks the crap out of her, even though Pru had no intention of hurting her and had only come to help.  Ra’s al Ghul orders some of his top assassins to target Tim, and Vicky Vale pesters Alfred Pennyworth about Tim.  Hush disguised as Bruce Wayne meets Ra’s, who has beaten up Katana.  Stephanie still helps Tim, despite her reservations, and the trio travel to a Wayne Enterprises building, falling into Ra’s trap.  Tam Fox goes looking for Tim, and Ra’s tells Hush to give him everything Bruce Wayne owns.  And when Tam arrives at Wayne Manor and bumps into Vicki, the two of them are targeted by a sniper…

     Red Robin still has all the same problems it has had from day one.  Now, Batgirl is a whole other thing, and I can’t possibly get entirely into that, considering the fact that I only bought the one issue for the crossover.  Personally, I don’t like that Cassandra Cain got replaced by a character who should still be dead, but again, that’s something else.  The whole Batgirl issue is a tad overwritten, like Bryan Q. Miller is still trying to sell Stephanie as Batgirl as a valid concept by the eighth issue.  That’s not normally a good sign.  Plus, I don’t like that the way Tim and Stephanie meet in the Batcave in this book doesn’t match up how they met in Red Robin #9.  It’s sloppy.  Chris Yost still writes Red Robin somewhat interestingly.  The plot is fundamentally interesting, and Pru is a cool character.  Personally, I found Batgirl beating up Pru more powerful than anything Miller did in Batgirl proper.  But rather than overwrite, Yost typically underwrites.  His core concepts and writing skills are better than Miller’s, but nothing is as exciting as it really should be.  Plus, why do all these uber-assassins have to look so… lame?  Talent Caldwell’s art is fine, even if the two-panel fight scene in Leslie’s clinic has Tim looking like he’s flexing rather than that he just punched someone.  The artists at the back of the book, Yvel Guichet and John Stanisci, are just flat out ugly.  And in at least one panel, Stephanie’s irises are missing.  Marcus To’s work is still solid if not terribly exciting, a perfect match for Yost’s mediocre script.  The news that Fabian Nicieza will be taking over the book soon is rather heartening, considering that Nicieza has at least worked on Tim before, if only for a short while.  Let’s hope he can save this series from stagnation.

Plot: 6.7      Art: 6.2      Dialogue: 6.0      Overall: 6.5

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