Robin #16 review

After Shadow War and the last issue brought Damian back together with both his parents, he’s pushing forward into his own path in life choosing to step away from both of them. Returning to Lazarus Island he has a plan for his own future, and that of the friends he’s made along the way. But with the arrival of Lord Death Man, will all that go astray?

With Damian back on Lazarus Island the series itself seems to feel back on track. This issue recaptures the fun and adventurous tone of the series before it took a break to be part of the Shadow War event. It is a refreshing return to form and everything I missed about this series. When I say I could read a hundred issues of just Damian adventuring with the friends he’s made on Lazarus Island I mean it. The group chemistry between himself, Hawke, Flatline, and the others works so well, and it’s great to see Williamson leaning into it again. Which makes me all the more disappointed that Williamson’s time on the book is going to be ending so soon. That said, I’m hopeful that Batman vs. Robin will pick up where this title leaves off.

As I mentioned, it’s the relationships between the characters that really shine here. Damian and Connor are a great pair, especially as they first interrogate Lord Death Man, then leave to investigate the mystery of just what he’s planned and what’s happened with Flatline. The two play off each other well, and it’s genuinely good to see them in a position where they can be friends with no threat of a battle to the death hanging over them. They’re quippy and friendly with one another, but also concern themselves with more mundane things like checking in on family matters.

Their investigation into Lord Death Man takes them to Tokyo where we get to see them work together and alongside Hiro, who has stepped away from Batman Inc. The issue is full of light banter, and we find a lot of it in the scenes that take place in Tokyo. From Damian’s offhanded dismissal of Batman’s choice in Batman Inc. leadership to his comment about solving a trap only to fall into one the dialogue is fun and airy in a way that works really well for the book. It’s this tone I liked so much about many of the previous issues, and one I’m really happy to see return. It also makes the characters feel their age. This is a series mainly focused on the adventures of teenagers, and so a book that is full of teenage banter, crushes, and boys trying to one up each other fits the tone. With the tournament over, the characters and narrative have a chance to grow and blossom into the young people they are.

This also appears in the other major element of this book: The arrival of other young people who need a safe space to exist outside their villainous childhoods. Before Robin and Hawke leave to investigate Lord Death Man a number of other characters arrive on the island, including Damian’s cousin Mara. This is a furthering of Damian’s own plan to give young people like him a sanctuary, and a chance to see these characters relax a little too. The island has even more of a beach vacation feeling to it in this issue than it did previously. I’m really happy we’re getting to see this element develop, and I hope to see even more of it later.

Luis Guerrero’s colors complement Roger Cruz’s art perfectly here in capturing the relaxed island vibes and the bright techno colors of Tokyo. The opening shot of the city is one of my favorites in the book, a full double page spread done in gorgeous colors that almost shine off the page, with detailed city behind Robin and Hawke as they leap into the scene. It’s vibrant and enchanting, as are the other scenes that take place in the city.

The issue wraps up as many of the arcs in Robin do, on quite the little teaser with two characters interacting I wasn’t quite expecting to see. It’s a fun moment that leaves you wanting the next issue right away, which is the way it should be with this series. I’m genuinely delighted to be back in a place where reading this book gives me joy, and I find myself eager to see what happens next.

Recommended If

  • Banter and light dialogue is your thing
  • Damian and Connor’s friendship is a shining star here
  • You’ve waited for the series to return to the lighter feeling it had pre-Shadow War

Overall

Robin #16 is a return to form. The relationships between the characters are bright and vibrant, the story is fun and engaging, and the tone has turned back to something that feels like it fits into the rest of the book. I love getting to see the characters we’ve come to know get to relax a little bit and settle into a new normal, all while dealing with the strange but valid threat that is Lord Death Man.

Score: 8.5/10


DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.