Tim Drake continues his quest to prove that Bruce Wayne is still alive despite every shred of evidence and sanity pointing in the opposite direction and, to top it all off, he’s working with Ra’s al Ghul to do so. In some ways, “Red Robin” is a study in the ways that the superhero lifestyle and the dangers that come with it can change a person, an interesting idea and one that gets very little attention when, really, the events superheroes live through would have drastic effects on their personalities. Where this book goes wrong is that Tim’s change involves becoming rather boring in his search for Bruce.
“Red Robin” #4 is a tedious read as the story alternates between Tim’s confrontation with Dick upon his decision to leave Gotham and the present where he’s in Iraq, searching for some evidence that Bruce isn’t dead. The scene between Tim and Dick centers around that tired cliche that superheroes with a disagreement have to fight while talking things out. There’s no reason for the two to actually fight other than to show that Tim is super serious and adult and I don’t know what else. Maybe if the intensity of the conversation reached a height where anger would boil over to violence it would read better, but it doesn’t.
Tim’s search in the present has one or two bright spots like him not knowing how to operate on an international scale, dealing with police and the military in foreign nations. The idea that living and working in Gotham his whole life has sheltered him somewhat is an interesting one worth pursuing. While some may not like his alliance with Ra’s al Ghul here, Yost depicts it well with Tim questioning the decision numerous times and doing everything he can to distance himself from that union while also taking advantage of it. The conflict that he has over working with al Ghul is presented strongly.
Ramon Bachs’ art is straight forward and easy to understand, but overuses thick, dark lines that resemble art that’s been enlarged from a smaller size. Along with Guy Major’s digital inks and colors, the look of the book is an odd mixture of garish, rough lines and bland, simple colors. Bachs’ art also makes anyone not wearing a mask look much younger than they seem to be, which works for Tim who actually looks like the teenager that he is. Except when he puts on his Red Robin costume and suddenly grows a square jaw line and physical frame that he doesn’t appear to have when out of costume. It’s quite the transformation that he undergoes. On a pure reading level, no one is going to be confused by the art, but, make no mistake, it’s ugly and amateurish throughout.
“Red Robin” #4 concludes the opening story arc of Tim’s search for proof that Bruce Wayne is somehow still alive for no reason other than he thinks it must be so. In other hands, the concept could be executed in a manner that explores the effects of death and the huge events that superheroes, even the urban vigilante types, must deal with on a day-to-day basis, but, here, it’s tedious and presented poorly.