The Insider and Red Robin: The NEW Dynamic Duo!
The Good: I love the concept of The White Casebook.
I absolutely love seeing The Council of Spiders again. Gotta be one of my favorite new villain groups.
The action is all seriously awesome.
Everything in The Insider's plan is seriously awesome. Especially his meeting with SIlk.
Actually Silk in general. I assumed before that The Council of Spiders was just those 8 people. Now they're a whole huge network? Awesome. AND there's some giant huge assassination CHAMPIONSHIP? WITH VARIOUS JOBS WORTH MORE POINT. HELL YES. I think they must have had a huge membership drive because their old plan suited their small group, but this whole thing suits their new bigger extended group.
Everyone has some hidden agenda to being in this allegiance. Bruce, Tim, and Pru. And it all makes so much sense.
I like how Bruce and Tim's inner monologue's tend to mirror each other, it's a very neat touch.
It's really interesting the way it leads right into The Road Home: Outsiders without leaving anything hanging for Tim or forcing you to read this to read Outsiders.
What happens with Vicki Vale when she tries to intimidate Alfred? HA. HA. You do not screw with a former S.A.S. agent. You also don't try to screw with the Goddam Batman('s butler).
There's a nice little reference to Red Robin's Hit List going on.
The Bad: While it really does feel like an issue of Red Robin, unlike Road Home: Batgirl, this one feels out of place after the last issue. It's a fairly big derailment from The Hit List to swing right back into The Council of Spiders. While I admit I was missing them a bit and looking forward to seeing them again, it still sticks out a bit.
I absolutely LOVED Ramon Bachs' art in the first 5 issues of Red Robin, just as much in the first 9 issues of Azrael, and even more on the Two-Face Co-Feature in Streets of Gotham. However here, it just doesn't look good. Maybe it's one of the colorers or inkers or something (I haven't bothered to check the credits to see if they match up) or if Bachs was sick or something, but his art just didn't look nearly as good as usual here. With one exception, everything was great in the scene with Silk.
It is a bit tied down by Road Home. It seems to function heavily as a sequel to Road Home: Batman and Robin (Although I dunno since my LCS didn't receive the shipment of it but I felt a little like I was missing something.) and leads right into Outsiders (And leaving a different cliffhanger for The Road Home: Ra's Al Ghul). The Insider's part in this issue looks like something much bigger that won't be resolved until later in Road Home. Also just the fact that this is more of a side story is a bit of a double edged sword. It seems like we won't get much resolution on this until after The Hit List or further down it at least.
Seriously? You have a connecting cover image to span 8 issues and you come up with this? Each character in some fairly normal pose with a bunch of bats and some watercolor in the background? HUGE WASTE OF CONNECTING COVER IMAGE.
In Conclusion: 4/5
Overall, this issue is seriously awesome. Since apparently Red Robin already had his tearful reunion (In Batman and Robin or Return of Bruce Wayne #6? Screw you delays.) the focus can aim much more on Bruce's analysis of Red Robin and the bigger picture with The Council of Spiders. The action here is pretty top notch, and there's a lot of various plot strings in here that all relate. The result is pretty much exactly what I'd expect from an issue of Red Robin, and that's pretty sweet.