The “Shadow War” story arc rages on this week with part seven in Robin #14. Be sure to read Deathstroke Inc. #9 first, as part six takes place there this week as well. As the cover shows for Robin #14, it’s an all-out war as Batman’s crew, Talia al Ghul’s crew, and Deathstroke’s crew are all battling to the death. Meanwhile, the guy pretending to be Deathstroke who killed Ra’s al Ghul continues to be a mystery. If that mystery has been bugging you, do not miss this issue.
This issue opens with our heroes standing in a pile of burning rubble. Ghost-Maker and Batman are catching up while at the same time Deathstroke is attacking Talia. Josh Williamson has set a lot of motivations up until this point, so it never feels like pointless battling for the sake of it. Deathstroke just lost the kid son he never knew he had, for instance, while Talia wants revenge for her father’s death no matter if Deathstroke is innocent.
A strong element in this story arc that continues here is Williamson’s depiction of Batman as a dad to Damian. The two have mended things a bit, but we continue to see Batman be a superhero with his kid, protect him, and also do the right thing. These developments feel important to these characters and earn the trust they have for each other that’s been lost for some time. Williamson also continues to make choices for Damian that are bold and walk the line between a Wayne and an al Ghul.
Roger Cruz’s art continues to be a lot of fun when it comes to action. Talia and Deathstroke really go at it and blood is shed in the battle. There’s a cool double-page layout that is angled so your eye goes from left to right with a wide panel at the bottom showing how badass Talia is. Cruz should be commended for drawing so many characters in a single panel and you won’t doubt that there’s a war with many characters fighting at once.
Inks by Norm Rapmund add a good edge to the muscles on these characters and details. Ghost-Maker’s cape, for instance, has some nice shadow work due to the inks. Meanwhile, colors by Luis Guerrero in the very same panel supply hues of blue with the white cape of Ghost-Maker adding depth and volume. Generally, this series has been on the brighter classic comics style which suits Cruz’s cartoony renderings of younger characters like Ravager.
It has taken seven chapters, but the big mystery is revealed in Robin #14 in a satisfying way. More importantly, the relationship between Damian and Batman continues to feel genuine while the all-out action is fun. “Shadow War” fundamentally understands comics are fun while building on the characters we know and love.
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