Comics Reviews

DC’s Robin Finally Saves Batman & It’s Heartbreakingly Sweet (Review)

Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s Robin & Batman #3 gives the Boy Wonder and the Dark Knight a dramatic and pitch-perfect ending.

Recent news of Jeff Lemire’s exclusive deal with Image Comics means that it might be quite some time until the prolific writer brings his talents back to the DC universe. While he is best known for creator-owned projects like Sweet Tooth and Black Hammer, he’s also left an impressive mark with Marvel and DC. Luckily, he seems intent on leaving the publisher with a bang. He and Doug Mahnke’s Swamp Thing: Green Hell is sure to delight fans of Lemire’s work on Animal Man. And, the third and final issue of he and Dustin Nguyen’s Robin & Batman is the perfect ending to this tumultuous episode in the lives of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson.

Robin & Batman #3 is the final showdown between Killer Croc and Robin. When Croc shows up at Gotham Academy, he plans on capturing Dick Grayson, but he is delighted when he has an opportunity to kidnap Batman instead. Robin rushes to save his mentor as he continues to grapple with the stress of his life as a hero and attempts to find his place in the world.

Related: Batman Might Have a New Robin – Whether He Likes It or Not

Robin, Killer Croc and Batman fight

Throughout Robin & Batman, Lemire has done an excellent job capturing Robin’s voice. Much of this final issue’s narration comes from Robin’s diary, which is heartbreaking. Lemire evokes both the confusion and joy of youth, but filters it through layers of grief and an alarming capacity for violence to give readers a well-rounded view into Dick’s psyche. Lemire’s exploration of Batman and Robin’s relationship finds a way to deliver a feel-good moment where the two finally manage to communicate with each other about their feelings without taking away from the action or leaning too heavily on saccharine cliches. In fact, this sincere approach to their friendship propels the narrative forward and adds some tremendously high stakes to the proceedings.

Robin’s bright costume stands out triumphantly against the muted color palette Nguyen uses to illustrate the grim world of Gotham City. But even the darkest corners of the city seem capable of an incredible emotional range. Nguyen’s watercolors perfectly match the moody, introspective tone of Lemire’s writing. His subtle linework and gorgeous watercolors portray all the complexities of Dick’s emotional journey in Robin & Batman #3. As good as he is at capturing the beauty of quiet moments, Nguyen also delivers pulse-pounding action sequences. The final fight between Robin and Killer Croc is the culmination of all the tension that has been building throughout the series, and the well-choreographed and energetically drawn battle definitely doesn’t disappoint.

Related: Nightwing Wants to Break Batman’s Most Controversial Rule – And He’s Right

Robin elbows Killer Croc

Lemire and Nguyen don’t reinvent Batman or Robin in their series, but they do tell a thoughtful story that highlights the most entertaining and endearing aspects of both characters. Robin & Batman #3 is an immensely satisfying and wonderfully crafted conclusion that represents a great deal of love and respect for DC’s dynamic duo, while also feeling like a fresh, empathetic approach to the boy wonder.

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