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Checkmate

June 20, 2010

Red Robin #12 is the final confrontation between Tim Drake and Ra’s al Ghul, and it starts with Ra’s thinking that everything’s in the bag.  However, when none of his operatives respond over the radio, Tim arrives.  He lets Ra’s listen to his own radio, through which Superboy, Kid Flash, Manhunter, Batgirl, Huntress, Man-Bat, Wonder Girl, and Batman and Robin all report in that all of the targets are safe.  Tim points out that he’s not Bruce Wayne/Batman because he has friends, and he also says that during his brief time with the League of Assassins, he found all of Ra’s holdings in Gotham City so he knew where Ra’s would be.  In anger, Ra’s attacks Tim.  Tim acknowledges that he could very well die fighting Ra’s, and Ra’s does smack him around pretty badly.  However, after having his shoulder dislocated, Tim informs Ra’s that he’s stalling so that Lucius Fox could, as per Bruce Wayne’s backup plan, file paperwork to make Tim the controlling shareholder of Wayne Enterprises.  So now Hush can’t sign anything over, and Ra’s plan has failed.  Calling Tim “detective” for the first time, Ra’s kicks Tim right out of the window of the building.  Tim thinks it’s all over, but Dick swings in to save him in the nick of time.  He later wakes up in the Batcave, with Dick, Damian, Batgirl, and Alfred Pennyworth standing over him.  Then, Batgirl wonders if there wasn’t something that Tim forgot to tell her, and Damian hands Tim the newspaper telling Vicki Vale’s story about Tim and Tam Fox being engaged.  And Tim wonders how long he was out for.  Later, Tim heads out in a redesigned Red Robin outfit (thanks to Alfred), past punishing himself and ready to live again.  Elsewhere, Ra’s talks to his mysterious woman and says that Tim will be perfect for producing a worthy heir.  Then, the issue ends with a flashback of Tim recognizing the face of Mordecai Wayne in his portrait and realizing that Bruce is alive.

Well, Tim certainly has come full circle in this last year.  He went from being completely solitary, voluntarily isolated, to being back in Gotham City and surrounded by friends.  And not only that, he’s now being acknowledged by Ra’s as Bruce’s equal.  We all know that Bruce has said that Tim may surpass him as a detective, so it’s nice to see that mentioned in some way.  Unfortunately, this issue still lacks the palpable tension, the excitement of what will happen on the next page, that better comic books always have.  Chris Yost crafted a good story over this past  year, and it’s really helped Tim get over all his problems.  But he never really made it any better.  He didn’t really dig into Tim’s psyche, and he didn’t write anything that truly got you.  That’s why the book was at absolute best just good.  And that’s what this issue is.  Just good.  And often mediocre.  I am curious to see who that mysterious woman is.  Based on the lighting and her skin color as compared to Ra’s, while taking into account the shadows the fire is making, my best guess is Tam Fox.  I know that’s a long shot, but it looks pretty clearly like her, considering her red lipstick and her purple robes (Tam is always wearing purple).  Plus, it’s a good, unlikely choice, and it makes sense, considering her rather sudden entry into Tim’s life.  That revelation would certainly make up for her random addition to the cast, even if you wouldn’t expect Lucius Fox’s daughter to be evil.  Marcus To’s pencils are still sadly mediocre.  They’re technically sound, but like Chris Yost’s writing, they lack any true dynamism or excitement.  While Yost is leaving, to be replaced by Fabian Nicieza, Marcus To is here for a while.  I can live with To being the artist, as I think he has some room to grow.  But I’m happy that Nicieza, a far more storied and tried writer, will be taking over.  He’s written some spectacular comic books in the past, and hopefully, he can lift this book out of mediocrity into excitement.  Obviously, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and staying on at least for a little while longer.  Let’s just hope he lives up to my expectations.

Plot: 7.9      Art: 7.8      Dialogue: 8.0      Overall: 7.7

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