Review: Red Robin #18

Published on December 13th, 2010

With Batman Incorporated, Bruce Wayne is hopping around the entireglobe training new Batmen.  Not to be outdone, Red Robin #18 sends Tim Drake all the way to mother Russia. Red Robin #18 is written by Fabian Nicieza with Marcus To on pencils.  Nicieza and To have been on this book for quite a while now and they really have a firm grasp on the character.  They’ve shown Drake grow up quite a bit and really become his own person in the Bat-family.

red-robin-cover

The last issue brought the “Hit List” story arc to a fairly open end and issue #18 begins “The Rabbit Hole” arc.  Tim has traveled to Russia with his business partner (and Red Robin confidant) Tam Fox.  Their cover is a meeting with a Russian businessman named Viktor Mikalek to ask for a grant to open a Moscow chapter for their youth outreach program, The Neon Knights, which helps youths get out of gangs and start helping their community.  In reality, Red Robin and his friend Lonnie Machin (formerly Anarky, now a catatonic super hacker) plan on hacking the supervillain communications grid known as the Unternet.  They also believe that Mikalek is somehow involved, so while Tim and Tam (adorable, huh?) give their presentation, Lonnie hacks Mikalek’s system.

During the presentation an attacker named Promise busts into the office with guns blazing.  She claims that Mikalek is guilty of some crime and she’s there to make him pay.  Her plan is stopped by Red Star, a Russian teen superhero and ally of Red Robin, but Promise gets away.  During the commotion Tim managed to plant a tracer on Promise, so that night he suits up and goes after her.  Red Robin finds Promise in an abandoned coal warehouse…in the shower.  After a brief fight in which Promise is 100% naked, Red Robin explains that he just wants to talk about her attack on Mikalek.  She tells him that Mikalek’s uranium mines hurt her brother and destroyed her home.

During their conversation, Red Star busts in demanding that Red Robin hand over Promise.  Red Robin tries to convince Red Star that Promise has reasonable grievances with Mikalek and that he is corrupt, to which Red Star admits he is fully aware of.  He allows Mikalek to carry on his illegal dealings because he contributes to the greater Russian good.  Red Robin tries to get away from Red Star and lead him away from Promise, ending up inside Red Star’s airship where Red Robin finds an armory full of missiles.  The book ends with Red Robin, Tam and Promise all knocked unconscious thanks to the ear peaces they were sharing after Lonnie began hacking the Unternet.

As always, Nicieza and To’s work on Red Robin is fantastic.  The story is very tight, the writing is natural and Nicieza does a great job of showing Tim’s inexperience as a solo hero while simultaneously making him a badass.  Plus, it’s really cool to watch Tim turning into his own man.

To’s art really suits this book well.  It’s a lighter, slightly cartoony style but he still manages to make it dark enough to fit in with the other Bat books.  That said, it’s still clearly it’s own animal and very different from the rest of the Bat-family.

If you’re not reading Red Robin, issue #18 is a great place to start.  Hit up the Red Robin Wikipedia page, get caught up and start supporting this book monthly!

Ian Candish
Ian@ComicImpact.com