I have little to no interest in Jason Todd, Red Hood or not. However, trapping Jason Todd in the Batmobile on a rescue mission with Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne will quickly pique my interest. It’s not groundbreakingly insightful or anything, but it can be great fun to see characters with this kind of history interact, and Winick makes the most of it in this issue of “Batman and Robin.”
In this issue Todd, Grayson, and Wayne (Damian) work together to rescue Todd’s friend and partner, Scarlet, from kidnappers. Not much happens, action wise, beyond the basics of the rescue, and Todd bizarrely being stripped bare, but the interactions between the three former Robins are worth the price of admission alone. Seeing Todd reasonably outwit Grayson and Wayne, mostly because he’s willing to go to a place they’re not willing to, is interesting and smart. It’s particularly intriguing in that it draws a nice parallel about where Damian himself may one day land, with two very different paths of Bruce Wayne’s sons/protégé’s laid out clearly before him: the perfect son that is Dick Grayson, or the fallen son that is Jason Todd. Good stuff.
Winick is a writer I run hot and cold on. Recently, it's been quite cold. But he handles our three Robins beautifully here, playing them off one another expertly and capturing their voices with seeming ease. There’s not much else to do in the story plot wise, and Winick was smart to focus on what any comic fan worth his or her salt wants to see – i.e. the Robins fighting with one another, but ultimately working together to save the day, kind of.
I didn't think Greg Tocchini’s style would be a good fit for a Batman story, but I really enjoyed it here. Everything is very slick and pretty (maybe a bit too much), but Tocchini makes good use of his space and does great work with character expressions in scenes where it’s critical. From faces (and faceless masks) down to body language, Tocchini ssssssssssnails his pages and gives us exactly what we need as readers to get the most from these three former Robins forced to work together. Tocchini’s art adds to what Winick does, making the character relationships and interactions even more powerful. Andy Smith’s pages, though capable, unfortunately suffer in comparison. They suffer in part just because they’re in stark contrast from Tocchini’s, only make up the last four pages of the book, and so feel somewhat tacked on. Tocchini’s heroes, though plenty muscled, look like stick figures next to Smith’s characters’ bulging biceps. One panel in particular makes Dick look as if he’s swallowed a thousand water balloons. It’s a shame that Tocchini didn’t get to finish the issue as it would have felt a lot more cohesive with consistent art.
“Batman and Robin” has not been a must read for me since Quitely left, though I hung on devotedly for a while, but there was some fun and interesting stuff going on in this issue. Perhaps more importantly, it was a look at Jason Todd that made me see the potential for him as a truly interesting and layered pseudo bad-guy.