30th Apr2021

‘Robin #1’ Review (DC Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Joshua Williamson | Art by Gleb Melnikov | Published by DC Comics

When it comes to the character of Robin, I’ve always been ready to be annoyed whenever a new kid takes over. When Dick Grayson became Nightwing so Jason Todd could become Robin, I was a bit irritated. When Jason died (though he did of course get better) , who I had come to like, and Tim Drake became Robin, I was irritated yet again. Then I found I liked Tim as well. So DC of course, on their legacy kick as they are, replaced him with Damien Wayne. Yes, I know Stephanie Brown (The Spoiler) had a little stint too, but that was always just a storyline that was going to see Tim return. So, Damien. Him I genuinely haven’t really taken to. He started off as a real angry firebrand, in the Jason Todd mould, and successive writers have toned him down little by little. Can he carry his own book? Let’s see.

First off, if you’ve read anything by Joshua Williamson, you know this won’t just be Damien’s book. Williamson is a mythology guy, and he will pack the book with as many supporting characters and classic villains as you can shake a stick at. With the Bat Family, that’s obviously a lot of stick shaking. So it will come as no surprise that by page 2 we have seen Batman, Nightwing, Tim Drake, Batgirl, Spoiler, and Barbara Gordon (now Oracle again, after her return stint as Batgirl). Bruce has mobilised his Bat Family to look for Damian, who has had a falling out with his father and essentially run away from home. For now, they can’t find him. So where is he? Huddled shivering at an isolated bus stop somewhere? Nope. He’ currently engaged in a cage fight with martial arts villain The King Snake, to win the right to fight in the legendary League of Lazarus tournament. As you do.

Damien wins of course, skill and arrogance in equal supply. He wins a spot on the boat taking him and the other new recruits to the mysterious island where this all goes down. I’ve heard of going to great lengths to impress Dad, but this is something else. Lazarus Island is the site of the legendary tournament to find the new living legend, a tournament that only occurs every one hundred years. The host is the mysterious Mother Soul. Damien, arrogant as ever, interrupts before he hears all the rules, and this is something he’ll regret. Even fellow fighter Ravager tries to warn him. He wanted to be first up and he is, paired with a fighter called Flatline. He’s first up, and then first down as Flatline takes him out relatively easily. Oh, and he’s first dead as well. Flatline has literally stolen his heart.

Well, that was a short run for Damien’s new book. I kid of course, but how do you push on from that shock ending? Talk about literally forcing you to come back next issue to see how it all shakes out. Magic island? Illusion? Best 2 out of 3? We’ll have to wait and see I guess. As expected, Williamson has started with a bang, and given Damien the perfect platform for his sassy, arrogant nature. He’s essentially a bully. A very talented and gifted one, and one who fights on the right side, but a bully nonetheless. Williamson is going to teach him a few home truths by the looks of things. Great start to what looks like a strong launch storyline. The art by Melnikov grew on me. I prefer cleaner, stronger lines in the art, and his manga tinged looser style is not usually for me, but here it worked well. The slightly scrappy, loose style fitted the prickly Damien and his story. Perfect art choice for this book.

So, no Bat just a Robin flying the nest. A Robin that thinks he can fly before he can walk it seems.

**** 4/5


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