Robin issue 5 gives us the long-awaited reunion of Damian Wayne and his brothers along with the other former Robin, Stephanie Brown. In the last issue, Ravager had contacted them because Damian was missing. Can the current and former Robins convince Damian to come back home to Gotham?
Warning! There will be some spoilers below.
Robin issue 5 comes back with a bit of action along with some touching moments between Damian and his brothers. The current (remember that Tim Drake is also currently Robin) and former Robins have shown up to bring the missing Robin back home. But that isn’t what Damian wants to do. He cockily tells them that he’ll come home without a fuss – if they can catch him!
Robin issue 5 begins with Rose coming back to life after having been killed by Respawn. She soon finds out that her death – being the last person on the island to die – signals the start of the tournament. There seems to be quite a bit of magic and mystery involved in the Lazarus Tournament. I’m not sure that anyone really knows what they’re truly getting into. Obviously, this is something that Damian is planning to find out.
Next, we see Nightwing, Spoiler, Robin (who I’ll refer to as Tim for the sake of this review), and Red Hood trying to get Robin to stop and listen to them. They’re rightfully concerned because Ravager contacted Jason when Damian went missing and they had heard some concerning things about him interacting with his mother Talia along with his fighting of deadly assassins. Robin challenges them to catch him and if they do, he’ll come home.
What happens next is some fun interactions between the current and former Robins. Damian is a true youngest brother in this comic. He teases and insults each one of his older siblings according to what he knows will work best to distract them. One of my favorite interactions was definitely between Robin and Red Hood where Damian shows that he knows what Jason values more than anything is being shown love. It may seem a little cruel on Robin’s part, but I firmly believe the intentions behind the hug other than just getting away were real.
My other favorite interaction was between Nightwing and Robin. This book doesn’t forget that special relationship that Dick and Damian share. As Dick says, “Tim, Steph, Jason… We were all Robins to Bruce first… But you were my Robin.” Because of this, they have a certain understanding of one another, more than Damian has with his other siblings. Dick gives Damian a birthday gift of something that was important to him, but in the end, Dick knows what Damian must do and he must do it on his own.
There’s a lot of things that could have gone wrong with Robin issue 5. Nightwing, Red Hood, Tim Drake, and Spoiler all have their own fanbases and are all very popular and well-loved characters. Fans want to see them written well with love and respect for who the characters are and how they relate to one another. I think Joshua Williamson accomplished that with flying colors. He understands how each current and former Robin relates to Damian.
I mentioned my favorite interactions above, but to go a little deeper, Williamson’s writing not only shows great insight into Damian’s character, but into Jason Todd’s as well. A part of Jason has never stopped being that little Robin who died and came back feeling like his family didn’t care enough about him. It wasn’t antagonizing Jason that allowed Damian to get away from him, it was showing his brother love that provided the distraction needed. Or in Jason’s own words to Dick, “He hit you over the head with sentiment, didn’t he?” To which Dick replied, “Wasn’t that how he got you?”
And speaking of Dick, he is kept very in character and spirit to how Nightwing writer Tom Taylor currently writes the character. This is a post-Ric Grayson, Dick Grayson who is full of hope. Also, it makes sense that he is the only one out of all the Robins who Damian was willing to listen to considering Dick’s relationship with him. Ultimately, Williamson showed a great understanding of all the characters through the interactions.
The only complaint that I really have is that it would have been nice to see a little more interaction individually between Tim and Damian and Stephanie and Damian rather than just combining the two. Especially since Tim and Steph have very different relationships with Damian. But I do understand page number constraints so it may have been more down to that. Also considering that Tim and Steph had recently broken up, it does make sense to have Damian call them out about that.
It was definitely great to see Gleb Melnikov back on art for this issue. Selfishly, I was super excited to see him draw my favorite character, Nightwing. (And yes, he draws a beautiful Nightwing!) Gleb is very good at capturing the essence of each character and their unique personalities. I can also appreciate that when he draws Spoiler, she is not a character off in the background as she is sometimes drawn.
My favorite series of panels in this issue is where Damian hugs Jason and Jason hugs him back. The sincerity in Damian’s face lets the reader know that the hug is real despite what comes after it, the surprise on Jason’s face is sad to see, and his return of the hug is touching. It’s just a lovely set of panels.
The art is only enhanced by colorist Luis Guerrero. The shading and textures involved all scream action which is so important in a fighting/tournament style comic. I love what looks like watercolor in the background of the panels which helps the characters to really pop off the page. Also, the use of white space is excellent.
Troy Peteri’s lettering is perfect for the comic as well. Very reminiscent of fighting games and anime. I think one of my favorite things about the lettering in this issue in particular is how it helps you follow the action within the comic itself. On one two-page spread where Damian is facing off against Tim and Stephanie, it’s the location and directions of the word bubbles that tell you the direction to read in. Quite a nice touch!
Robin issue 5 is definitely my favorite of the run so far. As a total Robins fan, I was happy to see all of them together. The interactions Damian had with my two other favorite characters, Dick Grayson and Jason Todd only made it more enjoyable for me. Now that the tournament will finally be under way, I can’t wait to see what happens next!
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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