Comic Book Review: Red Robin #5

Out of all of the Batman: Reborn titles Red Robin has been the weak link amongst the group. Chris Yost has yet to provide a good read on this title. His writing has been very amateur with his Tim Drake being a shell of his former self. Still, I have hope Yost can turn this title around and finally provide a good read on this title. Let see if Yost can deliver with Red Robin #5.

Creative Team
Writer: Chris Yost
Artist: Ramon Bach
Inker/Colorist: Guy Major

Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: The issue begins 19 years in the past where a little girl named Victoria is being chased by three drunk guys through the forest of Brazil. Victoria falls into a pit becoming surrounded by a 300 Brazilian Wandering Spiders. All the spiders bite Victoria as all she can do is scream.

In the present Tamera Fox is in Baghdad, Iraq asking someone if he has seen Tim Drake but he says he hasn’t. She asks him if Alvin Draper mean anything to him. He says that is the art thief to Tam’s surprise.

Later, Tam arrives to a heavily secure hotel. As she enters her hotel room she is shocked to find a bloody and unconscious Red Robin and Pru on her bed. As she nears Red Robin’s body he grabs her hand. The League of Assassins then enters the room and takes Red Robin, Pru, and Tam with them. As this is going on Tim thinks to himself that Tam was suppose to be the sheltered one in the Fox family but that is over now.

Tim wakes up on some stone table tries to get up but sees that he is surrounded by a bunch ninja in front of him and a Lazarus Pit. He thinks that he has been resurrected.

Flashing back to 19 years ago Tim continues to narrate of what happened in the Brazilian forest. The guys that were chasing Victoria earlier are now sitting around a fire drinking some bears when they see Victoria coming out of the forest. The guys approach her and we see Victoria skin is torn up. One of the guys tries to touch her but when he does he starts foaming at the mouth and drops dead in front of her. She then grabs the other two men and kills them. Tim finishes narrating the scene by saying the girl became something other than human.

Back in the present Tim freaks out thinking that he has been revived by the Lazarus Pit and starts fighting the League of Assassin members, who don’t fight back. As he fights them the new White Ghost comes into the room demanding Tim to stop attack them. Tim says White Ghost is dead and if he expects him not to do something after they brought him back from the dead. White Ghost says they did not bring him back using the Lazarus Pit, only healed his wounds. Tim looks at his stomach to see he has opened up his wounds, much to his embarrassment.

Tim asks White Ghost were Pru is. White Ghost responds by saying that Pru is recovering after losing her larynx and that Tim also lost his spleen. He then asks Tim what happened to them.

Tim flashes back to what happened 19 hours ago in the desert of Iraq. As Red Robin he lies unconscious thinking how if Bruce was in his position he would have used some sort of Zen position to heal. He sees Pru lying on the ground barely alive and bleeding from her throat. He wraps Pru’s throat using his cape to stop the bleeding and uses their car to make it back to a near buy Wayne Industries facility. They make it to the hotel room that Tam found them in earlier in the issue.

Back in the present Tim tells White Ghost that they were attacked by someone called the Widower. Tim says he and Pru barely survived while the Widower killed Z and Owen. Tim asks White Ghost who are the Council of Spiders. White Ghost says he will answer Tim’s questions later but Tim should first look after their guest. Tim turns around and sees Tam.

Shifting back to 19 years ago we see Victoria walking back into the city and going into her home. When she enters her house she sees her mother on the floor crying. When her mom runs toward her and touches her shoulder she starts foaming at the mouth and dies on the ground. All Victoria does is stand there and smirk at what happened.

In the Cradle Tim and Tam talk about what has happened. Tam is freaking out saying all she had to do was find Bruce Wayne’s son. Tim tries to calm her down but Tam asks him if his costume is some sort of ninja thing.

Before Tim can answer a League of Assassins member enters the room telling Tim his presence is requested. Tam tells Tim it’s okay and he can go do his killer ninja thing.

In the meeting Tim thinks how he feels like he is a business meeting for killers. Next to White Ghost stands someone called The Expediter who is Ra’s version of Oracle. The Expediter explains that the Council of Spiders have been going around killing members of the League of Assassins. White Ghost says that this action by the Council is a declaration of war against the League.

Tim speaks up saying he thinks this isn’t war but sport. White Ghost has Tim explain his reasoning. Tim says he thinks the Council is killing League members for fun. White Ghost says that their orders are still the same and puts Tim in charge of the League in their war against the Council.Tim thinks how this is his life now and what Bruce would do. Tim then thinks that Bruce isn’t there and agrees to lead the League in the war.
Later that night Tim and Tam have a meeting in a room with Tam is still in shock with what is going on. Tim tells Tam that the Ra’s is the most powerful and dangerous men in the world and he plans on taking Ra’s and the League of Assassins down from the inside out. End of issue.

The Good: Red Robin #5 was another disappointing issue in this young series. Still Chris Yost did show some signs of improvement in this issue.

One of the things that Yost has been nailing in this title so far is the thinking process Tim Drake goes through when trying to figure things out, whether it is in a case or in a choice he has to make. Unlike Bruce and, to a similar extent, Dick Tim isn’t able to make quick on the fly decisions. Even though Tim has shown himself to be an excellent strategist for Tim he is a detective through and through. For him he needs to take time to figure things out and goes through a long thinking process to make a decision as shown by the large amount of inner monologue he had in this issue.

While many people understandably compare Tim to Bruce I have always thought that Tim’s development since he first appeared has made him more like a Question-like character. Tim has never been thought of as one of the best hand to hand fighters in the DCU like Bruce and Dick. While he is very good he is much more of a detective in line with the Question (Vic Sage), though not as paranoid. In this issue, and series thus far, I believe this to be truer as we see more of Tim’s paranoid side while going through the situation.

And I like that Yost is showing this difference between Tim and the rest of the Batfamily specifically Bruce. Even with how Tim and Bruce treat injuries is different. It was a small jab with Tim saying that if Bruce was in his position with what the Widower did to him he would have gone into some Zen like state to heal himself. But for Tim all he wanted to do was survive the whole thing by reaching civilization before he bleed to death.

Also while Yost clumsily builds up what looks like the leader of the Council of Spiders I will admit he did an effective job building this new organization to be a threat to the League of Assassins. The girl who in the present should be around her mid- to late-twenties looks like an interesting character. I am interested to learn how her powers have developed and see more of the members of the Council of Spiders.

The Bad: The problem with Red Robin #5 is the same problem all the previous issues in this young series has faced: lack of focus. The way Yost is telling Tim’s journey to find Bruce has been very sloppy close to being amateur. As soon as a scene gets mildly interesting he cuts to some sort of flashback or flashfoward which takes any momentum built up and throws it out the window. Yost just doesn’t seem to have a handle of his own story with all the shifting between time.

While I am interested in learning more about the Council of Spiders and their leader, Victoria, I just don’t get why he had to spread the origin of the character throughout the issue. The Victoria origin was so spread out that I don’t understand what it had to do with the story or why we were cutting to 19 years ago over and over again when it doesn’t relate to Tim’s situation. Her origin story could have easily been told in either the first three or four pages of the issue or been told as a back-up to this issue. But the way Yost told the her origin story was very unfocused and did not make sense in the context of the story since it is Tim narrating the origin from some point in the future after the meeting that takes place in this issue.

With this first story arc over Yost needs to stop using these flashbacks and flashfowards as it is clear that he does not know how to use them properly. All these shifting through time are only getting in the way of the story instead of adding. Yost has already overused these shifts in time so much that it is hard not to roll your eyes when ever Yost does this during the story. And at some point Mike Marts, the Batman editor, needs to step in and tell Yost this because it is just not being properly utilized.

The other big problem that goes along with the lack of focus the writing is showing is that I still don’t know why the hell Tim believes Bruce is alive. The only clue we have gotten so far is the Batsymbol drawn in some cave. And while we all know as readers that Bruce drew the Batsymbol back in Final Crisis I don’t understand how Yost can have Tim come to the conclusion that Bruce is alive through this. For all we know that isn’t even the cave that Bruce drew the Batsymbol and it could just be some kids who drew it in the cave.

Yost needs to show more to Tim’s sudden feeling that Bruce is alive than this. So far Tim is just being shown to be as crazy as everyone around him are saying and that he does need some help to get deal with Bruce’s “death.” Tim is a detective afterall and I would expect a detective at the caliber that Tim is at that he would need more than just some cave drawing that isn’t even verified to be an actual clue other than Tim believing it is.

Also with this issue it seems that Yost has changed the mission statement of this series from being Tim’s search for Bruce to taking down the League of Assassins and Council of Spiders from the inside out. For the past four issues Tim has believed that Ra’s is the only one that can help him find Bruce and he does not care what he has to do to accomplish that mission. But now we see Tim wanting to take down the two organizations when that isn’t what he wanted to do originally.

It does not help that for the past few years the League of Assassins have lost all of the prestige they once had. The League of Assassins has been a shell of their former selves as they don’t even show up in the radar as a threat to the world like they once did. So Tim’s mission to take them down from the inside isn’t that big of a storyline. It actually feels very minor and a story that does not have much legs since the League aren’t the same they used to be.

Ramon Bach’s artwork continues to be very inconsistent. His artwork as a whole during this first arc has felt like it has been rushed it doesn’t even look like Bach spends much time with each issue. Tim when not wearing the Red Robin cowl looks like he hasn’t even reached puberty while when he is Red Robin he looks like a completely different character physically as he grows a foot or two.

Overall: Red Robin #5 was another disappointing read. There is absolutely no plot progression to the storyline of Tim search for Bruce in this issue or the previous four issues. Unless you are a fan of Tim Drake I do not recommend picking this issue up.

1 thought on “Comic Book Review: Red Robin #5

  1. Kevin, excellent review. I agree with your main points. I want to love Red Robin because I like Tim as a character, but Yost has not delivered with this series. Did you read Adventure Comics #3 this week with Connor and Tim? Johns did in just one issue what Yost has failed to do in 5. He gave us a reason for why Tim has chosen to be Red Robin and gave the reader a sense of context for why Tim believes and fights so hard for Bruce to be alive.

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