There are few places more fun to be in the current DC Universe than Lazarus Island.
Packed to the brim with fights to the death and quirky new characters, the unique setting of the ongoing Robin series by writer Joshua Williamson and artist Gleb Melnikov is one of many elements that continue to excite and impress in this month’s exceptional issue #3.
The plot of this installment sees Damian flung into perhaps the most frightening challenge of his young vigilante career: a party with other teens.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Robin #3!
Taking his cues from Ravager (check), who is shaping up to be a sort of mentor to the young Robin, Damian is given the task of socializing with the other decidedly eccentric participants of the tournament. Despite the questionable value of befriending people you intend to fight to the death, Damian puts in a valiant effort, only to discover this may not be the crowd for him.
This all changes when Damian, after stepping away from the crowd for a moment alone, finds himself opposite none other than Connor Hawke. Much has been made by Williams and others across the internet about the connection between these two characters that might be explored in this series, and the seeds being planted are easy to spot here.
Despite gearing up to be eventual opponents, Hawke and Damian surprisingly form a quick bond and spend their time together musing over their strange and somewhat traumatizing backgrounds as children of less-than-sane superhero fathers. The writing here from Williamson is exceedingly clever, both in the structure of the scene and the quippy dialogue exchanged back and forth.
However, the camaraderie is short-lived. After the intervention of sinister League of Shadows member Master Dusk, the two former sidekicks break the rules of the tournament and begin a brawl for the ages outside of official tournament parameters. This is an especially dynamic sequence that continues to demonstrate Melnikov and company’s penchant for delivering superior action, a staple of this series.
The parallels established between Hawke and Damian are a compelling addition to the thematic concerns of this run, which has grabbed me from the very first issue. Hawke is clearly under the malevolent influence of the League of Shadows, and as such he represents a dangerous path that Damian has already escaped.
There’s very little doubt that Hawke will be among Damian’s greatest external obstacles on his journey of self-discovery (I’m not a betting man, but if the final match to the death isn’t between these two I’d be very surprised.) The foil Williamson has set up between these two characters is the stuff of great drama, and the question of whether their paths will eventually align or diverge is a rich and juicy one.
Gleb Melnikov turns in excellent work once again on pencils and cover art, and carries on the great dynamic and cinematic feel of each of the previous installments. He once again uses a huge range of different panel layouts — practically no two pages are arranged the same — but never for arbitrary variety. The pacing throughout is superbly controlled and serves each story beat intuitively. For example, he delivers a concise and clean flashback in a panel where others might sloppily use an entire page.
The coloring from Luis Guerrero also deserves high marks here once again for creating a moody and lived-in Lazarus Island that lends the story a great amount of weight. I continue to be impressed with how seamlessly Guerrero transitions between a wide variety of color palettes from page to page, and even panel to panel. Dreamy, moonlit blues and purples give nighttime on Lazarus Island a palpable atmosphere, while faster-paced action sequences introduce more pinks and reds to make certain frames pop.
Robin continues to be among DC’s best ongoing series, with issue #3 providing some of the most exciting developments yet — and not just because of an outstanding cliffhanger. Throughout its first three issues, the creative team has created a great balance of thrilling action and nuanced character development that should have readers hooked all the way through to the finish line.
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