The much-anticipated Lazarus Tournament gets underway this week in Robin #6, and it’s a fight to the death. Literally. Josh Williamson and Gleb Melnikov have been building to this for five issues, and round one is finally here. There are mysteries afoot outside of the fighting, but can Robin survive long enough to reveal them?
This issue opens with bold text reading “Round One: Robin vs. Blue Shrike” which cuts to sound effects in the distance and finally Robin nearly shrugging his way into the fight. This leads to a double-page layout of all the fighting going on with 18 panels framed by bones. It’s a cool way to show there are many folks in this tournament and everyone is fighting for keeps.
Melnikov draws a strong issue with cool costumes and plenty of comic book tricks to show off the fighting. Take for instance a panel with Robin dodging a sword conveyed via multiple renderings of Robin slightly less colored in, similar to what we’ve seen in Spider-Man. Melnikov utilizes a few digital tricks like motion blur to enhance the movement in the action. This issue doesn’t hold back on the violence, either, with a character getting stabbed through complete with a blood splatter spray trail.
The action is mostly front-loaded near the beginning of the issue, allowing Williamson time to develop Flatline and Robin’s relationship. They get to chatting and we get some key info on Flatline’s origin. It’s clear these two are friendly, possibly even building a lifelong relationship, which Williamson plays off of nicely as other characters observe the two getting along. This all leads to a cliffhanger that has a lot of potential for where this story goes from here and could open up what this tournament is really about.
Colors by Luis Guerrero are bright and suit Melnikov’s cartoony style and a book like Robin. Even when blood is spraying the colors subdue things a bit so it’s not overly graphic. Letters by Troy Peteri get to swing for the fences with some fun character intros, with every character getting a logo treatment when their name is said for the first time. There is a fabulous “Die!” and “KRAK” that have 3D treatments that add to dramatic story beats.
The slower scenes feel a touch odd after the nonstop fighting that open the book. Seeing Robin sip some coffee in the tournament stands feels abrupt, as if an establishing shot of the grounds could help satisfy the change in pace. Environments are a bit limited throughout in fact, which makes it hard to track action at times. The final scene has a jump-cut feel since the location seems to change way too quickly. Is Robin a few feet from the tournament grounds, or a few miles? It’s so instant with such little transition that it feels awkward.
The tournament kicks off with plenty of great action and some genuine moments between Flatline and Robin worth checking out. Robin #6 is a good start to what could be an enlightening story for Damian Wayne. The creative team continues to blend action with interesting character work, making for a meaningful story about Robin.
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