Damian has had quite the journey so far in Robin. He’s joined a death tournament, died, come back to life, attended a beach party, been thrown off a cliff, and last month had some quality time with his grandfather, Ra’s al Ghul. This month he’s set to face yet another challenge: convincing his predecessor Robins to let him stick around and continue to fight in the tournament. Will he manage it, or be hauled back to Gotham?
This series continues to be a total delight. I never know what to expect, even with solicits, since each issue is just so wonderfully unique, and yet all tied into the same story. This one is no different, when the solicit dropped indicating that a pretty hefty chunk of the Batfamily –Dick, Jason, Tim, and Stephanie to be exact– would be showing up I was delighted, a reunion at last! Beyond that, I had no idea what to expect. One of the fun things about this series is that it keeps me guessing. Would there be a fight? A chase? A heated argument? None of the above?
Well turns out it is a chase of sorts.
The Robins –and for brevity’s sake I’ll just be referring to Dick, Jason, Tim, and Stephanie as the Robins unless I pull out one specifically– have been brought up to speed by a message sent to Jason from Ravager, and arrived to try and talk Damian out of continuing in the tournament and just come home already. Sensitive to the fact that he’s still not happy with Bruce, they purposefully came without him hoping that they could talk sense into him that way. Damian, is having none of it, but agrees to go home if any of them can catch him, and a chase ensues.
A large chunk of this issue is focused on this chase. During it, we get to see the Robins through Damian’s eyes as he both taunts them and shares some sentimental thoughts on each of them all the while keeping them from catching him. It’s a great mix of him being his genuine 14 year old brat self and showing us a softer side in how he respects each of them.
While this whole section was fun and funny and I like that we got glimpses into Damian’s thoughts on the group, I want more. It feels too short to really give a strong glimpse of his relationship with everyone. Especially characters like, Stephanie. By the end of her time as Batgirl under Brian Q. Miller Damian and Stephanie had a pretty strong relationship and in this era of Everything Is Canon that Infinite Frontier has brought in I was hoping to see that touched on. Still, there’s only so much space in an issue, and I’m not mad about Williamson’s choice to put more emphasis on a different relationship. I do hope we get to see more interactions between Damian and everyone else later on down the line though.
It’s Dick and Damian that Williamson chose to give a hefty chunk of the text to, and I can’t complain. Out of all his relationships in comics, I’d say that Damian’s with Dick has been the most influential, strong, and lasting. This section is incredibly sweet and full of heart and honestly almost everything I could have wanted from an exchange between them. It touches on their past and present relationship and how important each is to the other, while also showing a strong trust between them, and it’s just my favorite thing about the issue. Williamson does a great job touching on everything I love about this duo, and not just reaffirming their relationship, but building off it as well. I have missed these two together so much, and it was wonderful to see them reunited.
Gleb Melnikov makes their entire exchange just gorgeous. You can feel the emotion coming off the page as Dick and Damian talk, everything from how proud Dick is of Damian to how heartbroken Damian still is over Alfred. My favorite moment is a stunning panel that mirrors Frank Quitely’s iconic shot of the two of them working as a team in Morrison’s Batman and Robin #1. It just perfectly highlights how close they are with each other, and the history behind them.
Additionally this book is just gorgeous. Every page, from the Bats jumping around on rooftops, Damian dancing out of the way to keep Jason from catching him, and especially the more emotional beats later on are amazing to look at. It feels like the whole art team really poured their hearts into this issue. The art is beautiful, the colors balance it out well and bring the city to life, and the letters add all the perfect extra touches to each page.
While the chase is going on, the tournament plot continues forward with Rose at the helm. I love her indignation at Respawn for killing her, and the way the rules are now shifting and changing to matches instead of free-for-all fighting. I also love her continued concern over Damian. Did I come to Robin expecting to see Rose take on a big sister role, no. Am I loving that it is happening? 100% yes.
I have a minor quibble with this issue. There’s quite a bit of confusion among fans about who Robin is exactly. In fact, I see people asking for clarification almost daily at this point. Both Damian and Tim are being written as Robin right now, but so far it hasn’t been clearly stated that they both are indeed Robin at the same time. This issue would have been an excellent place to clearly state that fact, however it’s not mentioned at all. Damian doesn’t even have anything to say about Tim being Robin, no witty banter or snide remark. It’s totally ignored. Which I find kind of odd. Damian declares he’s Robin, but I still think it’s time for a clear statement somewhere in Batman comics about the Robins. Especially after Damian’s rather tumultuous exit from Robin in the Teen Titans Annual, us not really getting a reason why he’s Robin again in this, and Tim’s very quiet off panel return to the mantle in Young Justice. Yes, it can be inferred, but it would be nice to have it said so that people could direct confused fans to something concrete. Robin’s a big role, and to have two at the same time is pretty cool, just like having multiple Batgirls at the same time is cool. I’d just like it better if DC was being more clear about it.
The issue wraps up with a promise that the tournament will properly start next issue, and with a bit of a plot surprise from Mother Soul regarding some of the secrets of the island. I cannot wait to see how the actual tournament plays out, and some of the fights we’ll get to see from here on. While I’ve loved each issue so far, it really feels like things will pick up the pace from here on.
- Dick and Damian are your favorite Dynamic Duo
- Books featuring the family together are your cup of tea
- You too love Damian simultaneously being The Worst and The Best little brother
I feel like I say this every week, but if you haven’t started reading Robin yet, why not? The book has been nothing but fun with every issue released, and Williamson’s grasp on Damian as a character only gets better with each issue. This one feels like a real love letter to the character, his relationships, and the other Robins even in as short a time as a single issue. It’s fun, funny, and full of heart, please do yourself a favor and pick it up.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.