When the red, red Robin comes bob-bob-bobbin' along . . .
Oh dear, I just can't see this book without that lovely old song ringing through my head. And that new logo, as chirpy as a cute ickle wed wobbin deserves!
Ooh, goodness me though, that's a very grim fellow underneath it, on Francis Manapul's striking cover. That's the all-new, all-miserable Tim Drake . . . sorry, Wayne. Having been adopted awhile back, he's using Bruce's surname more often now his new dad has died. He has that new superhero name too, Red Robin.
Why, we wonder, would Tim take the name and costume used in recent times by the vile Jason Todd? Writer Chris Yost gives us a reason - now he's Grim Tim, he doesn't want to blacken the oh-so-shiny Batman brand. So he won't be Robin, he'll be, er Red Robin. Yeah, that'll fool 'em!
So here's Red Robin polluting the great capitals of Yoorp on his dinky not-a-batbike, foiling local crimes as he pursues his great plan to, hmm, I'm not actually sure what that is yet. We do know that he's convinced Bruce is alive, which would be pretty reasonable in a superhero universe but for the fact that Batman was seen to be vaporised by Darkseid's Omega Farce.
It turns out Tim didn't leave Gotham in an amicable manner, but in a snit due to Dick's accepting of Damian al-Ghul/Head Wayne, Snot of the Demon, as Tim's replacement. Dick, bless him, hadn't asked Tim if he wished to be replaced. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dick Grayson, true heir to the emotional sensitivity of Bruce Wayne.
And Tim, heir to the Darknight Detective, too dim to realise that if you're not shooting people, you don't need a bandoleer.
The story doesn't make a great deal of sense to me, but I don't hold that against Yost - the current Batman Family Shuffle is editorially driven. It wasn't his idea to have Tim darken, that's been coming for some time. No, the lemonade Yost makes here is likely as good as anyone could produce. I'm just not sure I want to buy it.
I liked Tim as he was, the smart, optimistic teen who recognised that an effective Batman needs a bright Robin. Not necessarily a Holy Punster, Batman, but someone to mellow the melancholy. But here he's embraced the gloom and I'm not sure I can be bothered with him.
If I am back next month, Ramon Bachs will be a big factor. His storytelling is good, he captures emotion well, knows how to whip up mood and draws a mean Red Robin (well, if he's going to be mean, he may as well look the part). And Bachs can even make Europe look convincing (Google tells me he's from Barcelona). Who knows, if Tim gets to London it may even be portrayed without thatched cottages.
Finally, a little note on ad placement: DC, if you're going to break a Batman Family story between pages 1 and 2 in order to place a spread, don't do that with a blooming great Batman Family house ad - it's bloody confusing.