Detective Comics #965 (DC Comics)
A Lonely Place of Living.
That’s the name of this story arc. It’s a play on A Lonely Place of Dying, the tale that introduced us to Tim Drake as Robin, and though the art can be a little iffy in places the writing is spot on: a kid figures out that Dick Grayson and Jason Todd were Robin, so Bruce Wayne must be Batman. He’s proven to be a genius and has noted the Bat is acting crazier than usual – he gets Dick involved in trying to help Bruce, but Dick is firmly Nightwing at this point and Bruce needs a Robin. It’s awesome stuff, full of psychology and pathos and some excellent Joker / Two-Face villainy, and it’s an easy recommendation.
And then all of that was tossed aside in the nu52. “Tim Drake” was no longer his real name, but the name he was given as a part of the Witness Protection Program after hacking the Penguin (and the government moved him to Gotham because nothing made any sense at all in the nu52). That Tim was never a Robin, adopting Red Robin from the get-go because he thought that would pay homage to Jason without stepping on any toes – and the name Red Robin wasn’t going to trigger any guilt or anger in Bruce, not with the name graphically illustrating a certain crowbar-related incident.
The real reason for Red Robin was that black and red are cooooooooool colors that are also exxxxxxxxxxrtreme and they match the nineties aesthetic that makes so much of the nu52 unreadable.
But this? This feels like the last vestiges of the nu52 are being washed away. Tim Drake is back, and his reason for becoming Red Robin is because he’d moved on and become a hero in his own right, having helped Bruce come to terms with Jason’s brutal death.
Of course, things aren’t so cut-and-dry.
In an earlier part of James Tynion IV and Christopher Sebela’s run on this title, Tim sacrificed himself for Gotham. Everyone thinks he’s dead, but in truth he was taken by people good enough to fool Batman. He’s been stuck wherever he is, information about his captors and their reasons doled out slowly. We don’t know what’s about to happen but James has been laying an ever-increasing complexity in this tale, one that raises the stakes with every arc and makes every previous arc better in retrospect.
What’s even more impressive is how good those story arcs are to begin with. Carmen Carnero and Ulises Arreola are a large part of that, bringing light to Gotham and the world while keeping the Bat in shadows, working a variety of inks and vibrancies to a title that is all the stronger for it. We don’t mention letterers much these days, but Sal Cipriano’s work on this title has been exquisite and has given immediately recognizable textures to the voices of Gotham. It’s a heady mix of darkness and light, silent sounds and voices that seep off the page, mingled with strong story-telling and interesting characters.
It is very much everything you could want from a Batman comic, and you should read it.