Man, I'm a lot happier three issues into this series than I thought that I would be.
First, Seeley continues to do a great job with characterization, particularly with Jason. In fact, I find myself longing for DC to realize that he writes the best Jason possibly ever and finally putting an end of Lobdell's control over the character. Jason is all aggressive charm and wit here, from complaining that he's not in touch with music because he's too busy "getting into wacky adventures" to grudgingly acknowledging that he owed Cassandra $500 for breaking up a pool game that he was losing. Also, let's not forget him telling Helena, when he's introduced to her over Dick's comm-link, "I hear you're hot." Of course he does. We finally have our Jason back, people.
But, it isn't just the individual characterizations that make this series great; it's the way that Seeley really makes the interactions between the characters sing. My favorite moment in comics this year may very well be Dick and Jason sitting at the bar, with Jason drinking a beer while Dick explains how this job went wrong. Seeley has show Jason fully embracing Dick as his big brother, even commenting to that effect (with a caveat) in this issue. When Dick has to keep him from fighting Cassandra again, Jason whines at him ("She attacked me, Grayson!") just like a little brother would. The two of them at the bar just cements to this brotherly dynamic. But, it's made all the better by Tim having to remind them that Harper is slowly bleeding into unconsciousness while they enjoy "happy hour." It's just...brilliant. This scene just really distills their three personalities and relationship perfectly. It's not just the guys, either. I loved Harper debating whether she should follow Cassandra's signal to go with her deeper into the Batcave, acknowledging the possible ire of the "beefy, undoubtedly short-tempered Robin boys." Like I said, I really could just watch this entire crew play charades at a housewarming party for 52 issues and be happy.
But, the plot also continues to get interesting. First, I thought Dick's assessment that Cassandra was having a "conversation" with them by "attacking" them was brilliant. Since she's not capable of speech, this "conversation" was the only way that she could verify that they are who they say they are. Meanwhile, we learn that Poppy has gone MIA after she ate the nanites that Spyral implants in their agents to track them. Helena is suitably disturbed, and her investigation into "Mother" leads to a 25-year-old reference in Agent Zero's journals about her claim that she can "build a human being for whatever needs arise." Dick asks what sort of person would need designer human beings, and Jason insightfully (maybe too insightfully) comments, "Maybe someone who could use a loyal child soldier or three?" Thus Bruce's connection with Mother gets all the more interesting. It also gets more lethal: the last nanite on Poppy's person crawled inside her cell phone and revealed that her calls were all going into the Beacon Tower, where Gotham was throwing a "re-welcome" gala for Bruce. Cue the guests suddenly speaking into phones saying, "Yes, Mother," and Bruce getting led into a kitchen full of axe-wielding guests!
Again, I'm intrigued where we're going here. Snyder and Tynion seem to want us to believe that Bruce may have had some sort of relationship with Mother that impacts what we know about the Robins, and the interesting part is that it might actually be true. They're definitely hinting that the answer is going to surprise us. That said, though, even the interesting plot pales in comparison to the joy of seeing the boys and girls all interacting together, without Bruce's presence changing the dynamics. God, I hope this series manages to stay this good for as long as possible.
**** (four of five stars)