With the Shadow War done and wrapped, Damian has found himself reunited with his parents, and back in Gotham. Now that he’s patched things up with Bruce, will he stick around, or continue pushing forward to find himself? And just what lies in store for Talia now that she’s turned herself in to the authorities?
Robin #15 feels less like a return to form and more like an epilogue to Shadow War so if you were hoping for the same fun, lighthearted flavor of the majority of this series, it’s not here. The narrative is split between Damian himself and Talia, working to propel both characters forward into their next adventures. Williamson wraps up a lot of elements in this issue, from Talia’s involvement in the Shadow War to resolving some tension between Damian and his parents.
The narrative is split fairly evenly between Damian and his mother, jumping between the two as the story progresses until they come together near the end before breaking apart again. The pacing is done well, and while the issue has a distinctive flavor of things ending, it also provides both characters with momentum as they move into different stories.
Talia’s story focuses mostly on her dealing with the effects of having turned herself in to the authorities. She’s interviewed by Dr. Chase Meridian, and eventually slips away to both try and talk Damian into going with her again, and then move onto greater things. I’m honestly not sure what the plans are for Talia past this book, as she’s been featured this week in Detective Comics and even the Gotham Girl backup, but Williamson does a good job of setting her on a new path through her interactions both with Dr. Meridian and Damian.
On Damian’s side of the story we get to see him fall back into a groove with the rest of the Batfamily. It’s with them that any action in this issue comes, but the focus is less on the family as a whole and more on his own relationship with Bruce and Talia. Particularly it gives Damian the chance to both tell his parents he cares about them, while also informing them that he’s 1. Not going to let himself be pulled tug-of-war style between them and 2. He still needs to be independent and find himself.
There are things I like about this and things I can’t help but want more of. I like that he’s getting to have these conversations, but equally Damian’s relationship with his parents feels rushed to say the least. Williamson has given us a lot of what I’d call Big Moments between them, where platitudes are shared, but the book hasn’t really bothered slowing down to show much of them simply interacting. Instead it moves from milestone to milestone like Williamson is rushing to repair both relationships before he exits the book. And I want more than that.
The story struggles from a similar problem regarding the other teens he met on Lazarus Island. They’re written as having turned over a new leaf, but we don’t get any time to see that development. Not like it should be given at least. As I feel many times when reading comics, I want the story to slow down a little and focus on smaller things, and unfortunately I don’t see that happening for either Damian’s parents or friends.
The one thing that made me cheer when I read it this issue is what Damian plans to do with Lazarus Island. I’ve said for years that a great way to progress his character would be to give him an opportunity to work with other young people around his age that were villains, kids of villains, or had some kind of dark past and give them the same chance he got when he moved to Gotham. And that’s roughly what he wants to do with the island. It stands to be seen just how all of that will play out, but for now I’m doing a little happy dance over this opportunity.
Roger Cruz is on pencils again, and does a good job with movement in this issue, from the fight scene where Damian is taking on a bunch of clowns to Talia and Bruce’s very short brawl he gives the characters and panels life. Luis Guerrero’s colors are another highlight here, they’re vibrant and clean and he uses distinct pallets for different events, from flashbacks to the Batfamily meeting up after patrolling Gotham. Each area and time of day has a distinctive look to it helping to make transitions and settings really clear.
At the end of the issue the tone of the story shifts back into how it felt during the tournament arc. Damian’s back around the friends he made on the island and faced with a threat that has nothing to do with either of his parents. Those few panels were brief enough to remind me of what I enjoyed so much about this series, which is Damian off on his own adventures, not weighed down by familial drama. For all I want some depth built between Damian and his parents, I’m equally happy to see him off having his own adventures too.
- You’re curious to see what happens with Talia
- Damian interacting with the Batfamily is your jam
- You wanted just one last taste of the Al Gul side of Shadow War
Generally this issue felt like both the end and beginning of arcs for Damian and Talia. Williamson does a good job providing Damian with an opportunity to air out some issues with his parents, while asserting his own independence. At the same time, the story struggles under the weight of time. The emotional beats it works into the story are good, but need more time to be further developed. With the last remnants of Shadow War behind it, hopefully the book will fall back into the easy stride it had before the event took over next issue.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.