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An Inconvenient Ruse

August 27, 2010

Fabian Nicieza continues his return to the life of Tim Drake with Red Robin #15.  It begins in the present day, with Tim visiting Captain Boomerang in Iron Heights Penitentiary.  And Tim has leg braces and crutches.  Flashback, and Tim was checking out Vicki Vale’s apartment to see what she knows about the Wayne family secret.  Seems she’s pieced a lot together, if largely by guesswork.  Tim talks with Dick Grayson and Alfred Pennyworth about a plan to get Vicki off the trail, but they realize that it will have to be something drastic.  Tim visits Batgirl, from whom he gets information about Scarab, who was hired by corrupt police officers Marcus Wise and Roman Cavallo to kill Tim (not Red Robin).  Tim stalks Scarab, who seems to be a powerful member of some Egyptian/Middle Eastern crime community, but he doesn’t get anywhere with fingerprints.  Tim explains certain parts of his plan to Tiffany and Tam Fox, though it’s not clear how much they know.  He has a meeting with Commissioner Jim Gordon and the assistant D.A. about the news conference, and Scarab gets ready for the kill.  During the actual conference, Tim is on the podium, and Red Robin is watching Scarab.  Oh yes, and there’s someone watching Red Robin.  Just as Scarab gets ready for the kill at a crucial part of Tim’s speech, Red Robin hits her weapon with a boomerang.  Tim gets shot in a nonlethal place, and Robin takes out Scarab with an electromagnetic pulse, the equipment for which he set up earlier.  Tim gets rushed to the hospital and seen by Dr. Leslie Thompkins.  Then we find out that “Tim” was really Miss Martian, shapeshifting, and Tam and Dr. Thompkins were in on it.  A few days later, the real Tim comes out, wearing the braces and crutches.  All to throw Vicki off.  And then he reveals the corruption in the police department.  Elsewhere, Anarky wants to get revenge on his old nemesis…

Well, this issue is about the same as the last ones.  The main plot is decently interesting.  Tim is really going after the corruption in Gotham City, and he’s really trying to help gangs and youth with his Neon Knights program.  Too bad we haven’t actually seen the program yet.  And he’s doing a good job with his hit list.  He’s also still really smart, just as we always knew.  His plan with the crutches, Scarab, and Miss Martian was really smart, even if it’s going to be spectacularly hard for him to keep up.  But this series continues to lack that special something, that extra bit of genius that other writers bring to other series that make those series rise above and beyond.  I’m not chomping at the bit to find out what happens next in the life of Tim Drake, and that’s a problem.  I kind of wish he were just back in Teen Titans already, so someone else (J.T. Krul very soon) had a chance to write him.  Nicieza is doing his best, but in a way, this is symptomatic of lots of solo series of characters who were at some point prominently featured in a team book.  They end up being less interesting on their own.  That’s not to say that Tim Drake is boring, but he’s being written less interestingly.  Marcus To’s work is the same as usual, but I’m finally getting tired of how lithe he draws everyone.  Tim Drake is supposed to be tough, and you can’t be able to punch and kick that much if you have that little muscle.  I know Tim’s not exactly the beefiest character in DC Comics, but he should be more… substantial.  Anyway, this is probably the number one series to go on my pull list should something better come along.  And with Grant Morrison returning to Batman with Batman Inc., I think this will be going very soon.

Plot: 8.2      Art: 7.4      Dialogue: 8.4      Overall: 7.7

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