It’s the final countdown as the Lazarus Island tournament is down to the final two, and the actual reasons behind the entire tournament prepare to make themselves known to the entire world. The character-defining exploration of Damian Wayne and the world of Batman continues as the creative team keeps bringing their very best to each and every single page.
Often in any serialized form of storytelling, when there is an entry that pads out the time towards the big action or big reveal it will be referred to as a filler issue/episode/etc. by many. It adds another entry into the overall storyline to keep it going till the planned concluding point is reached.
Robin #8 is anything but a filler issue.
On the surface, it could seem that way since there is a seeming break in things following the revelations about Mother Soul and the League of Lazarus as well as their overall plans, except that break very much plays into the overall reveal. This has been a character-heavy series from the start alongside its fighting tournament/video game style trappings. Damian Wayne is dealing with grief and guilt and this tournament and stopping the League is his way of dealing with it and reckoning with himself.
Joshua Williamson has given us one of the best looks into Damian’s mindset in quite some time, showing that despite appearances to the contrary the young man isn’t slipping back into his old ways. He’s trying to figure out who he is after his part in the death of Alfred Pennyworth, the mental ghost of which has been beside him at various points of this series. We get that here through the medium of another fight to the death.
Connor Hawke and Damian Wayne are very similar and even found some bit of friendship earlier in this series, but that was ended by their first fight which went Hawke’s way. Here they rematch as the only ones with more than one life remaining. The fight goes back and forth as they are pretty evenly matched. While this fight does not go Robin’s way, the breakthrough that he has and the chance he’s willing to take in the aftermath mark him as the winner overall (though there is still the big major fight and day-saving left to accomplish).
Much of this issue is the aforementioned fight, where the art is just left to speak for itself. Series regular artist Gleb Melnikov hands a good chunk of the issue but is one more joined by Max Dunbar who picks up several pages. Their styles are very similar, a bit easier to tell who is handling which page though this time compared to the last issue, and both bring the fights to energetic life. We’re not just seeing the fight through these images, despite being static they feel dynamic as if we’re actually witnessing the fight in real-time.
This is thanks to the movement and paneling choices, along with the SFX that Troy Peteri brings to the mix. Having a Hawk and a Robin in the background behind them at times is just another awesome touch, as they battle harder and harder. Despite knowing that there is resurrection on the table, there is a scene with Robin that mirrors what happens to Alfred that is so painfully vivid that it brings a pause when it’s witnessed.
There has been a very distinct sort of bright but also shadowy look to the series along the way, and the new colorist for the issue Hi-Fi keeps that going. This brightness reminds us that this is a story set in a superhero world featuring a ton of all over the place costumed individuals and mystical elements. While the shadows remind us that this is a heavier story at heart and has consequences and weight to it around the fun tournament trappings.
As mentioned above, Peteri brings a lot to the fight with the SFX but there is depth and lightness to the lettering all around. He plays with interesting colorful flares to dialogue as ways to emphasize certain words or moments which is nice, but also the way that dialogue is handled during much of the fight is unique and fun. Instead of a bunch of bubbles, the cheering of the other competitors becomes SFX-like as it bounces around the panels, making it part of the scene without having tons of bubbles obscuring the fight and the characters themselves.
At every level, you see, feel, and hear what is happening within this issue. There is a weight to everything, reminding that comic books aren’t just fun or dramatic but often a perfect marriage of the two. It’s energetic but emotionally heartfelt and heartbreaking all at the same time while making sure to flesh out not just Damian and other characters around him but much of the Batman-related and overall DC world.
Robin #8 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.