REVIEW: ‘Robin’, Issue #1

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Robin #1

Robin #1 is here! The Son of Batman has his own ongoing monthly title, courtesy of writer Joshua Williamson. He is partnered with artist Gleb Melnikov and letterer Troy Peteri for this series published by DC Comics. Right off the bat, this issue made Damian Wayne important enough to care about and to understand the new path he will be struggling to go down.

The first several pages reveal a problem within the Bat-Family, already dealing with enough drama since Infinite Frontier #0. Damian is missing. Despite an intensive search from every member of  Batman’s crew, not a trace of his troublesome spawn can be found. But wherever he went off to, they are certain of one thing. He will make ripples. Well, that’s definitely true. Damian likes to make moves, big ones, and this series places him in the midst of a search for the League of Lazarus, an ancient society that holds a super-fight club on a secret island. It’s elite and highly exclusive, and the Boy Wonder wants in for reasons all his own.

Robin #1 finds our titular character in costume at the fight to get him to the League’s big shindig…provided he wins. This is where it gets nostalgic and Williamson shows he can pull from the Robin archives. Robin versus King Snake. Astute fans will remember King Snake was the major foe for time Drake when he had his first robin miniseries way back in 1991. It’s not merely a piece of Robin lore that stands out but arrives exactly thirty years later. The battle is dynamic and sets the stage for what’s to come while showing just how blunt and formidable Robin is.

Williamson presents an action comic that is not trying at all to hide its 1970s martial arts film inspirations, and that’s a very good thing. Comic books, especially the Batman ones, are riddled with the king fu genre as much as it is with Lovecraftian horror and 20th Century pulp. At first, it had me feeling that Robin would have a very short venture into the League’s brutal world, but I forgot this Robin is genetically modified for maximum output. This issue presents a determined Damian and it helped to make me feel closer to the character, especially with certain personal touches. While we do get a mention of his mother, Talia Al-Ghul, even though there is nothing to inform say, a new reader, that Damian is part Arab and comes from a different cultural background than his father. I hope they address this is in future issues.

This is big because with Robin #1 I am an even bigger fan of Robin and all their incarnations than I am of Nightwing. The only problem is, I never really liked Damian Wayne. For one, most Robins end up looking alike (although Damian does have tanner skin when they color him correctly) so a different appearance would have helped. But the assassin angle is so overplayed in comics, as is the hard attitude and killer vibe. here, Damian is aloof, judgemental, but a sliver of humanity peeks through the iron curtain as he moves closer to his goal. I like it. Sold. Let’s do this.

Cameos by a load of DC characters helped jog the memory as to when they first, and last, appeared in a comic, not to mention name-dropping many of the DCU’s finest warriors. This is setting up to have an incredible supporting cast.

An action comic needs to lean heavily on the art. This is my first time laying eyes on Melkinov’s pencils and inks, and those eyes sure were pleased. Melnikov draws big, muscular characters that make a fascinating contrast to the small, petite Damian who appears fragile. That only makes the Boy Wonder’s actions all the more impressive against his foes in this issue. Damian has a toned well in this issue and, though he seems to have been darker or lighter over the years, and I wonder if there is a set palette for the character (this reviewer is very two-toned and color can change drastically, but it’s something to consider). Robin’s costume is one part Gothic fairy tale and circus chic with a hint of Klingon (sneakers!) and I love it. The artwork is strong, animated, reminiscent of J. Scot Campbell and Joe Madureira, and it fits the book well. Peteri’s lettering is clear and even, with easy-to-read fonts and ample use of SFX not only in the scenes but within the word balloons as well. Each panel is fun to behold and one artistic medium complements the other.

Robin #1 starts off big and keeps up the momentum, and I for one am a solid fan of Damian Wayne/Robin thanks to this creative team. It will be great to see the League of Lazarus be unveiled over time, how Robin will survive against opponents no doubt much better than he is, and to see who in the DC Universe pops up to confront him, and maybe align with his goals. It’s an absolute joy to see Robin become its own title and move out from the shadow of the Bat, so hopefully, fans will uplift this series so it can achieve longevity. 

Issue #2 is too far off.

'Robin', Issue #1
5

TL;DR

Robin #1 starts off big and keeps up the momentum, and I for one am a solid fan of Damian Wayne/Robin thanks to this creative team. It will be great to see the League of Lazarus be unveiled over time, how Robin will survive against opponents no doubt much better than he is, and to see who in the DC Universe pops up to confront him, and maybe align with his goals. It’s an absolute joy to see Robin become its own title and move out from the shadow of the Bat, so hopefully, fans will uplift this series so it can achieve longevity.