I’m going to get this part out of the way right now: I like Christopher Yost’s basic idea for “Red Robin.” It makes sense when you think about it; if Dick Grayson is now Batman, and Damian Wayne is Robin, where does that leave Tim Drake? (Or, rather, “Tim Wayne.”) Having another vigilante running around Gotham City could get old quickly, so Yost is taking Red Robin out into the rest of the world. And you know, it’s got real potential. Most of the planet never shows up in DC Universe comics (and the less said about the year all their annuals introduced international heroes, the better), and having Tim go through unfamiliar territory could be a lot of fun.
The problem is, I found myself underwhelmed by “Red Robin” #1 the further I got into the issue. The opening scene in Madrid isn’t bad, as Tim tries to save a girl from kidnappers. It’s an action sequence to kick things off, that exciting little burst of energy to propel the rest of the issue forward. As soon as it ends, though, we get far too much of Tim moping. Between it, a pretty bad scene involving Damian Wayne (for a character with such a distinctive and snide voice, Yost completely misses the characterization on him), and Tim’s plan of finding the missing Bruce Wayne involving walking around foreign cities with a photograph and asking people for help… well, things aren’t looking so good.
The idea of Tim abroad, like I said earlier, is a good one. But when you consider that this issue alone jumps from Madrid to Paris, it feels like it might as well be from Richmond, Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina. The cities themselves are little more than names, here, with lots of exploding cars to fill their streets. It feels like a real opportunity is being lost here, and I’m getting a little worried about Fabian Nicieza’s entertaining run on “Robin” being replaced with this new “Red Robin” title.
Ramon Bachs’ art, like Yost’s script, is variable in terms of quality. The opening scene has Bachs at his best; moody art with nice rounded features that reminds me a bit of older art from Darick Robertson or Rodney Ramos. Unfortunately, Bachs’ depiction of Tim walking around in sunglasses makes him look like an extra from “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off,” and the less said about sulky Tim expressions in the Batcave, the better. On the plus side, Bachs can draw cityscapes quite well, and should the comic ever slow down long enough to try and get the feel for one of its foreign locations, I think Bachs is absolutely the man for the job.
“Red Robin” #1 is showing potential, but so far it hasn’t quite lived up to it. I’m willing to give Yost and Bachs a little more time, but they need to start playing to their strengths quickly. The Batman family of titles has been through some rough times, and unfortunately a new title can sometimes be used as a jumping-off point. Here’s hoping future installments bring back the entertaining character we used to know.