Robin Annual 2021 provides information on some of the major players in the Lazarus Tournament via Batman’s research in the Bat-Computer. Some backstories and insights on characters are revealed and it serves to fill in some of the information gaps in the main Robin comic series. Definitely essential reading for those reading Robin.
There will be some spoilers below.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Robin Annual. The cover is excellent and is reminiscent of teeny-bopper magazines. I especially like the Easter egg where Flatline is reading a Nightwing comic. A nice touch of meta there. But the cover doesn’t really give away what actually happens in this story. I feel like it’s more of an added resource to provide greater understanding of the characters in Robin rather than being a complete story on its own.
Robin Annual 2021 takes place between Robin #5 and #6. At the time of this writing, the most current issue is Robin #8. The story begins with Damian Wayne once again conversing with Alfred Pennyworth’s ghost. For the life of me I can’t figure out if Alfred is just a figment of Damian’s imagination or not. I’ve always leaned toward yes, but in comics anything can happen. I digress. As Damian talks with Alfred, he questions why if Dick Grayson has faith in him, Alfred can’t as well.
Damian soon discovers that the escrima stick that Dick gifted him with for his birthday actually contains a tracker in it. Since the tracker is connected to the Bat-Computer, that means Damian can now gain access to both his father’s files and his own. This is when Damian discovers that Batman actually has information on all of the contenders in the Lazarus Tournament. Robin of course hopes that these files will answer some of the many questions he has, but will they? You’ll have to read the issue to find out!
What I enjoy about the Robin Annual is that it takes the time to give you some backstories for some of the more prominent characters in a way that the main series cannot do because of page and story constraints. It wouldn’t make sense necessarily to take a full issue of the main Robin story to give you the history of Flatline, but it works perfectly in this format. I also appreciate how these stories of the characters all tie back in to how they got involved with the Lazarus Tournament to begin with.
A good chunk of the issue focuses on Flatline, which makes sense as she is one of the most prominent characters in the series and has become somewhat close with Robin. Of course, Ravager (Rose Wilson) is featured as well, and it also shows that she interacts with Jason Todd (Red Hood) quite regularly which ties in to the fact that she was the one who told Jason where Damian was in issue #5. There is one character who still remains a bit of a mystery but that is by design, plus I think there may be some hints about him.
One of the things that I had been hoping for all along does happen in this issue. We get a little bit of background information on the ballerina fighter, Black Swan. She’s a very unique character that would work excellently in a horror comic. I do hope she gets used more or in other stories in the future. The annual tells us that she has killed 26 people and had lost control during a performance. She killed everyone on stage. Talk about brutal!
I can appreciate that writer Joshua Williamson took the time to give us more information on the characters in the story he is telling with Robin. Because while this is Robin’s story, the more the reader can connect with the other characters, the better the reading experience is overall. When you know more about a character, you care more about what happens to them. You care more about their personal journeys. Sure, this story is about Robin, but it’s about Flatline, Ravager, Respawn, and Ethan Hawke as well. They all have secrets to reveal, their own motivations, and reasons for why they’re competing in the Lazarus Tournament.
The art is done by Roger Cruz and inked by Victor Olazaba. Cruz does a great job staying true to the character designs that Robin comic regular artist, Gleb Melnikov, created. Cruz draws each character very vibrantly and full of life. He stays true to the fighting manga/fighting video game feel that is seen in the rest of the series. Luis Guerrero is back on colors again with this issue and series regular, Troy Peteri, provides the lettering. Their consistency helps to tie everything together in a way that works so well.
While there is not a ton of action or advancement of Robin’s story arc, Robin Annual 2021 does provide some much-needed information to enjoy the series more thoroughly. These characters have interesting backstories that are fun to read about. These stories answer some questions while providing us with even more. The annual definitely gives us some further insight and it will be interesting to see how it all ties together in the upcoming issues of Robin.
Author: Jessica Rae
Jessica has a BA in music with an emphasis in voice and spends her day typesetting, editing, writing, and moderating webinars. Jessica primarily reviews anime and comic book series. She also offers insights on various movies, books, games, and other geeky topics.
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