Robin takes a moment between story arcs to reset the pieces on the board for what comes next while continuing to focus on character development and world-building. Having reached the year point of the series, the overall creative team (with its numerous shifting in and out members) has hit their stride and continues to bring a lot of great things to life upon the page month after month.
Single type issues where the overall storyline or plotline is either still heavily present or is at least still part of the equation, are a really great thing to see having a resurgence in comics these days. In the past, they were more common than longer arcs before bigger back-to-back story arcs became more of the norm. They’re a great way to wrap up things from the last story or begin showcasing the steppingstones to what is next or other times to just do something completely different and fun with the characters.
With Robin #12 we sort of get a mix of the first two options, dealing with the al Ghul family issues and the big Shadow War event that has begun.
Through this first year of the title, Joshua Williamson has done a wonderful job of showcasing who Damian Wayne is at this point and surrounded him with a colorful cast of characters. It’s been a story about grief and dealing with that, and finding a way to come to peace, while also letting go of things and actually forming relationships of his own again. Damian has many siblings in the Bat family and has Jonathan Kent as a best friend, but now he has the sparks of a romantic relationship and some new friendships within his circle.
All that growth has been great but as we see here, the family aspect was still one area where things needed work. Especially when it comes to his mother’s side of the family. It’s really nice to finally see a version of Talia that isn’t plotting or scheming or using her son, but one that actually just like him genuinely wants to do better and form something meaningful between them.
The resolution of Damian’s plot to bring Alfred back was very well done, as it shows growth that he realizes the flaw in the plan and doesn’t want to tarnish the memory of the man that was so kind to him and like a father.
Roger Cruz and Norm Rapmund return to handle pencils and inks respectively, after working on a few issues throughout the tournament arc. They are very similar to the work from Gleb Melnikov, who began the series and handled many of its issues, where the detailed and emotionally heavy sort of realm meets a more fun one. We get a ton of great facial/emotional work as well as a great variety of paneling that showcases moments of action in the best ways. The full-page title page spread with Damian and Hawke on a cliff with their hero fathers looming behind them in the sky is a great way to start things off.
Luis Guerrero continues to bring such colorful life to this book, a role he’s filled for all but two of the issues so far. Elements on Lazarus Island still have the same bright colorful aspects they’ve had this whole time, with some shadows to deepen the ominous of this island, while Gotham is a whole other somewhat toned-down shadow-heavy place with some brightness to it. Everything about the night scenes just felt so perfectly accurate, and really hit home the darkness that has been following Damian all this time.
On letters series stalwart Troy Peteri keeps making magic happen, with the realistic dialogue that comes from some changes here or there to style or size and the big colorful exclamations we’re still getting. It would be easy to have Damian yell ‘Fight me’ at his mother as just slightly bigger bold text, but putting it huge in red in a jagged bubble just sells the moment and emotion even better. Just like Mother Soul’s demented green laugh in the epilogue, that sends chills down the spine.
Robin #12 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.