Review: Red Robin #17 By Fabian Nicieza

Red Robin #17

Written by Fabian Nicieza

Art by Marcus To
Man, how did DC not tap Fabian to write for their Bat books years ago? I mean, first he was a natural fit for Robin, and now Red Robin. His one shots have been almost¬†completely¬†golden, and hell, Azrael wasn’t even so bad. It’s like, this is where he was meant to be. Writing for the Bat-offices, and more specifically, writing Tim Drake. And Tim deserves it, I mean, it’s not that he’s been misused, but….well, he kinda has been. Dixon wrote him for the better part of a decade and can be considered the definitive writer of Tim Drake, but after he left Tim just sort of…lingered. I mean, Bill Willingham wrote him for a while and made the book about magic and secret armies and magical secret armies. Then Beechan came on board, and while I didn’t read it, I’ve not heard too many favorable things. Then Dixon came back, and I came back, and while it was fun, it took Fabian coming on board to really get my interest. We did the Bat shuffle, Chris Yost did a year writing Tim, but now we’re on Fab’s fifth issue since taking back the writing reigns, and you know what? It’s good.

How good? Well, the book opens up with the return of Cassandra Cain, and she’s kicking bad guy ass in a brand new costume. For those who don’t know, the former Batgirl had not been seen since the first issue of the current Batgirl book, but she had been mentioned as recently as the Road Home one shots last month. Here we find out that she’s been in Hong Kong fighting the underworld, and while she is no longer wearing the Bat on her chest, she’s stayed true to the mission and been finding herself in the process. While it’s only a short appearance it succeeds in…..making me want more. Any chance Fabian can write a Cassandra Cain miniseries?

The point of the issue though, is Tim’s investigating of the mysterious new Lynx, whom he apprehended a few issues ago but claimed to be an undercover police officer from Hong Kong. Hence going there to see Cassandra, which also continues the push of his Neon Knights organization. On top of just revisiting this woman who could either be friend or foe, Tim makes a….questionable judgement call in assisting her in regaining her freedom, and with one page Tim has himself his own personal Catwoman. Only with a ridiculous mask.

That’s one thing I like about this issue, actually, the building of a supporting cast. On top of Lynx in her Catwoman role, Fabian also brings back one of Tim Drake’s best friends in Ives, a character who has been in and out of the Robin title since Dixon created him in the early to mid 90’s. The best friend that exists for the sake of the Tim Drake identity, who doesn’t know about the double life. Honestly, the kind of character any teen hero needs in their supporting arsenal, the kind of character who helps keep them ‘human’, as it were. It lets us remember that the character isn’t always in costume, even when sometimes it seems that way, and for a Bat character it’s especially helpful as it is far too easy for those characters to begin to focus entirely on their costumed lives, I mean, look at Bruce.

Marcus To is a great fit for this book. I’m not sure how to describe it exactly, but it feels right. The action is clear, the characters all have their own unique looks, ages are defined. To be honest, he’s one of the better artists I’ve seen tackle Tim Drake in the past five or six years. DC is fortunate to have him on this title, and he’s really starting to carve the book out as his own.

The greatest success of this issue is in how everything is juggled through the issue, as while there’s no story arc being built on, and by all definitions, this issue is a filler, it at no point feels like it. It’s an epilogue that opens up the doors to the future, as opposed to closing off the ones of the past story arc. If anything, it’s one of the better single issue stories that I’ve seen out of Tim Drake in a long while. Oh, and Bruce shows up too, something about there being something they’re over due for.

Overall?

8/10

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