Review: Red Robin #14

Published on July 12th, 2010

Tim Drake has been busy since he got back to Gotham City.  First he had to fend off the League of Assassins, protect pretty much everyone he knows from the League, prevent Ra’s Al Ghul from obtaining the entire Wayne estate and then got his ass royally kicked by Ra’s. Now Red Robin is creating a “hit list” of villains to bring down.  The list is prioritized so that by taking one person down it will lead to the next.

Lately Tim has been living in Wayne Tower with Dick, Damian and Alfred but he wants to get on his own and he has plenty of reason to because Red Robin #14 opens up with Damian hacking into Tim’s computer to get a closer look at the hit list.  Before it cuts away Damian finds something in the list that infuriates him which isn’t touched on again until the end.

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The rest of the book focuses on Red Robin working on the list.  At this point he’s chasing down a South American assassin in Gotham named Brutale who looks like a rag doll from Hell.  After bringing him down Red Robin chases Brutale’s female partner who Tim has never seen before.  In the process someone knocks a billboard off a roof and cuts Red Robin off and the female assassin gets away.  They don’t show who this person is but they do show their silhouette.  This person has a cape and it looks like they’re wearing a hood…Damian?  Not sure what they’re hinting at.

The book then shifts to Red Robin dealing with a pair of crooked GCPD detectives.  After Bruce Wayne “died” Tim and these detectives got the youth gangs in Gotham to sign a peace treaty and work as community activists for the Wayne Foundation. Last issue Red Robin found out that these detectives were working with another gang to take all the territory of the gangs that signed the treaty.  Tim holds a press conference the next day in which he, Tiffany and Tam Fox, Lucius Fox’s daughters, reveal the corrupt detectives without giving their names.  The press conference moves to questions about the announcement of Tim and Tam’s engagement which Tam told Vicki Vale previously as a lie to cover for Tim’s secret identity.  After the press conference Vale reveals to Tim that she knows about his, Bruce and Dick’s “scandalous nightlife” and threatens that the media circus that she created around the engagement is an example of what she could do with that information if she wanted.  Tim makes a mental note to add Vale to “the list.”

Finally, with Batman away on Justice League business, Red Robin and Damian head out that night on the trail of Brutale’s partner from earlier.  In the process Damian cuts the line that Red Robin is swinging on and starts a knock down drag out fight.  Tim barely manages to catch the assassin as she’s running away and then he decides he needs to kick Damian’s ass so that Damian really thinks twice next time he decides to attack Tim.  In the middle of the fight Batman shows up and screams at them for acting this way, especially in the location they’re in. Tim realizes that they’re in Crime Alley in front of the abandoned theater where the Waynes were murdered.

Back at the Bat Bunker it turns out that what Damian learned in the beginning was that in addition to the hit list of villains Tim also had a list of heroes to have contingency plans for in case they go rogue…which included Damian.  Damian was furious because he felt that he should be trusted but Tim clearly doesn’t.  It’s funny because after the revelation Damian looks really dejected, like he was the last one picked in PE.  It’s nice to see him act like a kid for once.  The book ends with the two corrupt cops hiring Scarab to kill Tim Drake in retaliation for exposing them which was exactly why Tim decided to muscle them in the first place because Scarab is next on his list.

I’m a big fan of what they’ve done with Red Robin.  It’s been really well done from the beginning and kept in the spirit of a Batman book without getting into the weirdness that some of the other Batman books have lately.  Marcus To’s artwork is excellent for this.  He manages to make Red Robin look like a young person but not a little kid.  A lot of his characters look alike but otherwise it’s all really great art.  My only complaint about the Hit List story arc is that it’s using a lot of history from other books (like the corrupt cops and the gang treaty) that feels really obscure to me having been away from Batman books for a while.  Otherwise it’s really cool to see Tim growing up and becoming his own badass hero.  Plus it’s awesome to see someone finally putting Damian in his place. Hopefully we’ll see a cool Red Robin DC Direct statue sometime soon? Hook me up guys!

Ian Candish
Ian@ComicImpact.com