“Red Robin” #19 is a fairly generic superhero comic book. There’s some action, some character interaction, some decent art, and that’s fine. What’s lacking is a sense that any of it adds up to anything meaningful. Tim and his allies face some complications and challenges, none that seem too difficult or harrowing, and, then, they succeed in accomplishing a victory that surely affects the world in some way, though damned if I can see how. It’s light, fluffy, and utterly inessential. Not just in the ‘ties into what’s going on elsewhere in the DCU’ way, but in the ‘did anything actually affect the characters in the comic in any lasting way?’ Not really.
Within that somewhat framework, though, Nicieza and To do produce some entertaining scenes. With Tim and some of his friends and allies mentally trapped within the Ãœnternet, the villains’ version of the internet as seen in “Futurama,” they need to figure a way out while somehow preventing Mikalek from maintaining his control over it. Since it’s virtual, anyone in the Ãœnternet appears as they see themselves. Tim, for example, wears a Red Robin costume that’s a mix between the Alex Ross design he normally wears, Dick’s Nightwing costume, and his own Robin costume. It’s actually a better look for the character, one that allows him to maintain his youthful appearance and show more continuity with his past. Hopefully, someone at DC thinks the same and it becomes his regular outfit.
The ultimate goal of Tim and company’s quest is so vague that even success isn’t entirely clear by the end. The journey has some entertaining parts, like a version of the Joker dressed in a bloody Robin costume and a ‘J’ sewn over the ‘R’ patch on the chest, or Mikalek having a statue of himself erected in the Ãœnternet Metropolis that looks more like Darkseid than him. But, by the end, Tim and his friends just kind of wake up, Mikalek is perturbed and that’s it. If something of import was accomplished, it wasn’t communicated in such a way. The entertaining scenes never cohere in an engaging whole.
Marcus To makes a great first impression on the opening pages with clean, open cartooning. The opening spread’s perspective is a little off and it’s a little too busy in the background, but his foreground figures are drawn quite well. The way he shades Red Robin differently from the security avatars in the Ãœnternet and the Silver Age Batman and Robin distinguishes them visually well, while still making them all look like they belong in the same world. His work depicting Tamara Fox as a three-year old is his best in the issue. Then again, an angry three-year old is always funny to see and he nails the look. As I said earlier, I really like his redesign of the Red Robin costume and would love to see it become the permanent costume Tim wears (which would make sense since that’s how he sees himself…).
“Red Robin” #19 is an entertaining comic when looked at on a scene-by-scene basis, though some scenes are weighed down with exposition. As a whole comic, it never feels consequential. Part of that seems to be the plot, and the rest is execution. If this plot is supposed to matter, it should come across as such. Still, if you like light, action-based superhero comics with a little bit of silly fun thrown in, this makes for a good read.