REVIEW: ‘Robin,’ 2021 Annual #1

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Robin 2021 Annual #1 - But Why Tho

Robin 2021 Annual #1 has arrived to squeeze in more gossip about the fighters on Lazarus Island in the regular Robin series. DC Comics published this annual addition to the regular monthly series with Joshua Williamson as writer. Roger Cruz is the artist for this tale with Victor Olazaba on inks. Luis Guerrero handles colors and Troy Peteri of ALW inserts the balloons and letters. Note to readers: this story takes place before the events in Robin #6.

The League of Lazarus cultists has returned to Lazarus Island with the book Mother Soul needs to complete her wicked ritual.  Unbeknownst to them, Robin has hitched a ride. We’re back on the island, the fighters are asleep, and Robin needs to assess the state of things.

In Issue #5, Nightwing gave the Boy Wonder the bar from the Flying Graysons highwire act. While it looked like a sentimental offering, it comes with technological secrets. One: a tracker. Two: Damian can use this to access his Strike Files. For the most part, this is what the annual represents, Secret Origins of some of the fighters on the island. We get a very good one featuring Flatline, a character I’ve come to enjoy. Throughout the issue, there are either one page or longer tales involving other fighters, some even getting details as to what brought them the attention of the League of  Lazarus. Some are so brief as to leave the reader wanting more, while others offer just enough to satisfy.

Williamson has been adept at nudging this Robin closer to something resembling a hero. Less a killer, more empathic, more critical of the murderous family that raised him. While we don’t get a lot of Robin in this annual, we are allowed to get enough of him to make a specific decision in his life going forward. This issue shows how the supporting cast hasn’t been completely ignored and room has been set aside to add a dimension or two to some of them. Williamson handles them all well and this honestly is something I’ve been waiting to see. There is also a brief secondary story at the end that sets up what’s to come in a future 2022 storyline.

Cruz and Olazaba go hand-in-hand with dark lines and great inkwork. Loved the scene of Robin appearing out of the sea, the black water rings, Robin appearing mysterious, maybe a bit too grown in the face, but an amazing image. There are lots of parallels with series artist Gleb Melnikov in the animation style action lines,  and the way motion is captured. That’s a good thing, as I love this art style and it plays well with all the tales we get here. Guerrero’s colors aren’t as bright as they are in the series, but there are some lovely shades of purple and pink in Flatline’s origin. Peteri maintains on letters without a doubt, even adding a technique I haven’t seen before this issue, using a color (crimson) to denote speaking a different language instead of bracketing the English words in each balloon. It’s a nice touch and stands out. All in all, this is fantastic art from start to finish. 

Robin 2021 Annual #1 brings the bad guys forward, and it does so with reliable storytelling and pleasing visuals. It’s a must for those following the series and a good pick-up title for those looking to glean a bit more from these characters.

Robin 2021 Annual #1 is available wherever comic books are sold.


Robin 2021 Annual #1
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TL;DR

Robin 2021 Annual #1 brings the bad guys forward, and it does so with reliable storytelling and pleasing visuals. It’s a must for those following the series and a good pick-up title for those looking to glean a bit more from these characters.