After reuniting with Talia in the last issue Robin dives straight into Shadow War this month. Damian continues his search for Deathstroke, answers as to why Ra’s was killed, and learns more than he expected to.
I’ll be honest, I found this issue a little hard to review since it’s less an issue of Robin itself and more an issue of Shadow War. While some books can still be read on their own during an event, this one really really requires event reading to follow the plot. Because of that I’ll tell you here and now, if you’re not keeping up with the event this issue is not really for you. It opens up right after the events of Deathstroke Inc. #8 and generally follows the trend of the event by following a variety of characters, with the focus turned closer to Damian since it’s his book.
The book opens up with Batman searching for both Deathstroke and Robin, and reminding readers that we are indeed in an event. It then moves into the meat of the narrative, where Robin and Ravager face off against Deathstroke and Respawn. The main goals here seem to be focused on revealing the fact that Respawn is a half sibling of Damian engineered by Ra’s, letting Robin learn that Deathstroke didn’t actually kill Ra’s, and reuniting Batman and Robin as a team. It’s a lot to fit into a single issue and for me, it packs in so much it’s hard to find a little bit of breathing room in the story.
There’s some aspects of this I really liked, especially Damian’s excitement at having another sibling. He’s had a number of clones appear through his existence and in general seemed to think well of them, but I was still curious to see how he’d react to Respawn’s existence. Even if he’s not a clone, he’s still deeply tied to Damian. So it’s nice to get some kind of reaction. However, we don’t get a lot of time spent with this realization, or see an actual conversation between Respawn and Damian. They do fight, and Respawn airs some of his grievances, but even that feels a little rushed. Respawn is a fairly new character, and his voice still feels very shaky, especially during this event. He vaults between hating Damian and softening on him, then hating him again. I don’t mind this so much since it feels natural for him to be conflicted, but I do wish the story would slow a little bit to give us time with him, and between him and Damian. However the event itself is moving fast, and because of it, the issue rushes through pretty much everything it’s doing.
That rush to get through information and keep the plot moving is a serious weakness here, especially when you consider how well Williamson usually does emotional character beats. Normally, it feels like they’re given time or the proper weight they deserve, but here they’re pushed past. Both Respawn’s revelation and Damian reuniting with Batman are events that should have more time given to them. Respawn because of the implications of having a half sibling and Batman because of the metric ton of unresolved issues between them. Especially after the disastrous reunion they had at the start of this whole event. Instead, Respawn and Damian end up fighting, and the reunion with Batman is played off with a joke about letting Damian drive. I get that the event needs to keep moving, but it’s also frustrating to see these moments brushed off.
The art is consistent through the whole issue, and one of the elements I really enjoyed about it. Especially Roger Cruz’s pencils as they work well to keep the action moving. And there’s a lot of action to be had as the book is full of fights between characters and explosions. He keeps the fights clean and well laid out so that they’re easy to read and keep track of through the book. T
Troy Peteri’s letters also add a lot of life to the text, especially the onomatopoeia spread through the issue. One of my favorite moments on the page is the way rematch pops up just before Respawn and Robin fight. It adds a little bit of fun flavor to the book, and matches its tone well.
The issue wraps up in a way that I’m sure directly sets up the next part of the Shadow War event. With a few more books, and l another Robin issue set to take place during this event, it’ll be a little while before the series returns to focusing solely on Damian, still I’m interested to see where the event goes from here.
- Damian’s reaction to who Respawn really is is something you want
- You’re keeping up with Shadow War
- Faster books are more your thing than slower ones
This issue pushes the Shadow War event forward in a few ways. It pairs Batman and Robin back up and sends Deathstroke and Respawn off in a new direction. We get a few character moments, but because the event is so fast paced, it rushes past them, leaving me as a reader wishing for a lot more than we actually get. For now, my suggestion is to skip Shadow War if you’re not already invested. However, if you are, this is a key piece of the narrative moving forward.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.