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‘Red Robin: The Grail’ – A TPB Review


Red Robin - The GrailThis, my friends, is good comic book writing.

Taking place in the aftermath of Final Crisis and the ensuing Battle for the Cowl, Red Robin bursts onto the scene journeying far to seek the one thing that can give him absolution.  It is appropriate that this arc is called The Grail. Like a wandering knight holding onto the hope of something he has never seen, Tim Drake is on a mission to prove that Bruce Wayne is still alive.  His faith is definitely tested, and Drake’s continuous internal monologue lets you know that it does waver from time to time, but he is relentless, even when it requires compromising his morals.

Beneath it all is a man obsessed with finding Bruce Wayne.  He cannot accept that Bruce has passed, despite the evidence and despite his friends trying to help him understand.  Donning the costume of Red Robin, he distances himself from both Gotham City and the rules that Batman always lived by.  Yet, he is constantly struggling with this separation, jet-setting around the civilized world tracking a hunch and fighting crime along the way.  The fact that he dons a different costume (one you DC historians will no doubt recognize) to avoid stigmatizing the Bat mantle shows that he is still sensitive to his moral code, or at least to Batman’s.  His quest has just one little hiccup: The League of Assassins and Ra’s Al Ghul, who has taken an unhealthy interest.

The dynamic between Tim Drake and Ra’s Al Ghul is brief and good, but not nearly as entertaining as the one between Tim Drake and himself.  Through all 5 issues, I felt both sympathetic and judgmental of him, and all the time I was entertained.  Chris Yost is terrific at telling tales both internally and from the outside.  He is supported by a great team. (Ramon Bachs does angles and action so well, and a nod should be given to the colorist, Guy Major, whose work is nonpareil in setting tone and location.)

Interspersed throughout are flashbacks to just after Battle for the Cowl, which gives 
us the back story on why Tim Drake is no longer in Gotham, along with a few interludes setting up the next arc in this series, Collision. All of this could be distracting, but in this presentation 
it is seamless and works to ramp up the suspense and the drama of our hero and the story to come.  Though the action is secondary to his greater quest, it never comes off as superfluous. Red Robin is a dynamic character at war with the world and himself, and his internal monologue does a great job of tying it all together.

The Grail left me wanting more in all the right ways.  Questions are left unanswered, unlikely alliances are formed, and the reader is left wondering, just how far is Drake willing to go?  He spends the entire Grail arc both comparing to and distancing himself from Batman.  And
, each time you can’t help but feel the disappointment in his tone.  As if he tried the mantle on for size and found it wasn’t quite the right fit, but he still wants to impress his father, even after his father is gone.  It’s not an uncommon story, but Tim seems so torn between doing the right thing and doing his own thing that it never comes off as hackneyed.  It is urgent and raw, and I, for one, am hooked. 



Sam Vieira, Fanbase Press Guest Contributor



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