Published May 5, 2010
Written by Christopher Yost
Pencils by Marcus To
Ink by Ray McCarthy
Colors by Guy Major
Letters by Sal Cipriano
Story Title: "Collision - The Conclusion"
Verdict: 5 bats out of 5
Red Robin at last comes face to face with Ra's Al Ghul, as the League of Assassins descends on Batman's associates. All the plots of the last year come to a head, and the smoke clears to reveal that Tim Drake-Wayne is simply awesome.
Ra's Al Ghul is not one of Batman's most high-profile villains, despite the increase in his popularity after Batman Begins. He's not as unique as Two-Face or as menacing as the Joker. However, there is still something very intimidating about a man who controls a worldwide network of ninja assassins and theoretically lives forever. (Why isn't he used more? Not that Liam Neeson wasn't amazing in the movie, but the movie version of Ra's Al Ghul was too much of a well-intentioned terrorist and not enough of an immortal ninja, and then he got killed off.) He's also one of the few villains to know Batman's true identity consistently, with no convenient bouts of amnesia to stop him from targeting Bruce Wayne as much as the Dark Knight.
Ra's Al Ghul has been swearing revenge against former Robin Tim Drake-Wayne since Tim blew up the League of Assassins in Red Robin #8. In this issue, readers finally get to witness Al Ghul's attempt at revenge, and Tim's plan to stop it. When the fans anticipate something for so long, it can be difficult for the actual event to live up to their expectations.
It was AWESOME.
Tim's actions in this issue remind anyone who might have forgotten that he is the boy who deduced the identities of Batman and Robin when he was nine years old. He doesn't go blindly into the fight; he develops a strategy and contacts his allies, sending his friends from the Teen Titans to stop the League of Assassins from killing Bruce Wayne's loved ones. This leads to the greatest two pages in the entire issue, as Superboy, Kid Flash, Manhunter, Batgirl, Huntress, Man-Bat, Wonder Girl, and Robin call in to report that they have defeated every one of the assassins.
Robin, Ra's Al Ghul's assassin-trained grandson, has this to say:
He gets bonus points for using the proper plural form of "ninja." Also, note that Marcus To belongs to the very short list of artists who can draw Damian Wayne well.
With the first step of Al Ghul's plan foiled, the villain takes a more direct approach: epic swordfight. This scene shows the character traits that make Tim a worthy member of the Batfamily: he is determined, honorable, and--above all--self-sacrificing. Tim risks everything, even his own life, to stop Ra's Al Ghul from hurting Bruce Wayne's legacy. Christopher Yost understands the true essence of Tim's identity as a superhero and his role as Batman's protege. Ra's Al Ghul shows his own admiration of Tim's abilities when he calls Tim "detective," a moniker he normally reserves for Bruce Wayne. The final pages of the comic further emphasize Tim's role as Bruce Wayne's successor, as Ra's Al Ghul reveals to the audience that these events have been a test of Tim's worth--a test much like those that Al Ghul had previously devised for Bruce Wayne.
Artists of Gotham City Sirens, take note: THIS is how you draw attractive women. The girls in Red Robin have a variety of body shapes, and the art makes them look good in skintight costumes without being exploitative. (The same goes for the men, actually. Tim spends a lot of time with a ripped costume, or lacking a shirt, without it feeling gratuitous.) Marcus To is one of the most consistently good pencillers working with the Batman family. His excellent grasp of anatomy extends to everything from quiet moments in the Batcave to the desperate fight between Red Robin and Ra's Al Ghul.
As a bonus, have a clip of Ra's Al Ghul swordfighting with Bruce Wayne, from the Warner Brothers' official YouTube Channel: