Robin #5 features not one, but four Robins. The ongoing series builds towards the Lazarus Tournament’s start, but in this aside issue, Robin must navigate around his Bat-family or be brought back to Gotham. Josh Williamson and Gleb Melnikov have been delivering the fight-comics goods, but in this fifth issue they bring out the feels.
This issue opens with Ravager very pissed off, but soon that rage turns into contemplation as she realizes what is going on with the League of Lazarus. As she waits for the Lazarus Tournament, tensions are high, which builds up anticipation as the book smash cuts to Robin being chased down by Nightwing, Red Hood, Tim Drake, and Spoiler. Much of the issue is about Robin being chased by them, but acts as a build-up issue for the big smash-em-up of the sixth issue.
This issue does a fabulous job showing how deft and clever Robin is when being confronted by his bat family. Most of them are highly trained, yet are outmatched in different ways. Williamson brings out some big ideas, not only in how Robin can thwart his friends but also in a very touching moment between Robin and Nightwing near the end of the book. These characters may not have fought alongside one another at every turn, but they’re still family because they know what it’s like to be Batman’s sidekick.
Red Hood fans will not want to miss this issue either, as he’s given an emotional scene with Robin. Williamson pulls no punches in regards to references to past moments. All of these interactions build towards the feel-good vibes of Robin being ready for what comes next. His bat family trusts in him and because of that Robin trusts in himself.
Melnikov continues to bring the high-octane action and keen cartoony fun with a heaping dose of smart details. The mask of Robin is insanely alien and cartoony, and yet if you look closely there’s a bit of texture and volume to it. That goes for Nightwing’s mask too, but also in little details like the stitching in Red Hood’s jeans. You can see a bit of that long sinuous Humberto Ramos anatomy here, but Melnikov makes it all his own in various ways.
Color artist Luis Guerrero brings a lot of life to the book as well, like the lights of the city in a cool double-page layout, or how Nightwing’s mask bleeds from black to blue to create a sense of volume. Robin’s costume has red, green, and yellow in it, each of which draws your eye in different ways.
You might read Robin #5 and feel like it’s a filler book, but Williamson and Melnikov tug at your heartstrings with some well-earned emotional moments. The legacy of Batman and his sidekicks is long and you feel every moment in the little references and connections these characters share here.
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