So far Jason Todd's Robin period has mostly been quirky and showed his worthiness of the mantle. The only time he's gotten mad so far has been after finding out the truth Batman hid about his fathers' murder. Things now take a much darker turn as the series has yet another writer although this one will be the one that changes Jason's fate. Starlin takes over writing duties getting rid of the lightheartedness for much grimmer stories and a desire to remove the newest boy wonder from the series. This story sets the tone for things to come--oh and no Jason in this issue.
OLDER SPOILERS AHEAD
Gordon and Batman have discuss a serial killer at the latest crime scene where we learn his M.O. Brutally tearing women in their 20s up then tossing their bodies in the dumpster. Batman soon leaves to see to a fire and finds a heroic woman nearly falling to her death trying to save a child. This woman is a social worker named Kate that Batman takes a liking to due to her spunk and heroism. (Ironically the same virtues Jason Todd has, Starlin.) Bruce gets to know her in his civilian ID before he hears about a woman being taken by a man in the van. Thinking it might be the dumpster killer he goes to look for the van but can't find it in time. They find the woman in the dumpster and of course it's Kate. Going on a rather extreme hunch Batman looks for a drug dealer as he believes he's the killer. Despite not fitting the profile and not able to get anything to suggest he is Batman believes he's on the right track. He's wrong as nothing fits and there's proof that he didn't do it. Which means this issue didn't have a solution.
Overall: I think the only good work of Starlin I've read was Batman the Cult which wasn't without its problems. Subtlety isn't often found as the ideas he's trying to get across are usually beaten over your head. This is fairy obvious with his stance on Jason Todd but here? Kate is presented as an important person that's so heroic I almost expected her to be a superhero in disguise. If not for Batmans' ominous narroration and saying she's the same age as the last murdered woman most would assume it too. Her impact on Bruce is squeezed into a few panels after their first meeting to attempt to give this weight. There's also a sense of victim blaming which is also familiar with Starlin. Bruce laments if only she had common sense and how naive she was. Not nearly as bad as other victim blaming we'll see but very distracting nonetheless.
It also occurs to me that Starlin has a lot of tropes about women being victims during his run which I find very disturbing. The most memorable one that impacts Jason will occur just before DITF. The way these women are portrayed just doesn't sit right with me and I'm not just referring to the violence against them. There seems to be two extremes I've seen so far: the naive victim or the "villain" that has little to no depth. Iconically the purpose of the former--to give the hero(es) something to brood over--changes depending on who it affects. More on that later in this run. Sure there are other women but at present I can't think of any that stood out. I suppose we'll go over that too.
I was kind of amused in past issues to see how competent Jason was and how Bruce messed up so much. The difference is that those issues were half serious and half silly (well maybe not 413.) This was all serious with Bruce being a moron when it came to being a detective. His whole reason for assuming some drug dealer was the killer is because his nickname is Cutter which is close to cut up? Were we supposed to think he was being desperate? It came off extremely sloppy and incredible stupid. Even when he admits everything is saying Cutter isn't the guy he still believes he is. No other reason is given. If this story continues and he is the killer this part still won't make sense as Batman has no real motive for this guy.
Questions Raised?: It occurred to me when Batman mentioned the bad neiborhood that Gotham is mainly made up of bad neiborhoods. What sections aren't full of crime?