DC Comics 2021
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Gleb Melnikov
Coloured by Luis Guerrero
Lettered by ALW’s Troy Peteri
It’s a beach party from hell! Robin’s mission to get to the heart of the League of Lazarus's inner workings has left him once again locked in combat with his fellow fighters, but never did Damian Wayne think it would lead to a beach-blanket cookout. What’s more dangerous than a life-or-death struggle for the all-or-nothing prize of immortality? Well, for Damian, it’s acting like a normal teenager for five minutes. And don’t miss the surprise confrontation with Damian’s number 1 competition, a mysterious fighter trained by the League of Shadows!
This continues to be something that surprises me time and time again. I may not be a staunch fan of Damian but I am a staunch fan of Williamson’s and this issue demonstrates why that is. He’s taken a character I've never liked and got me invested and engaged in his current exploits in ways I never could have imagined that I would. There is one exchange in this book that sums up completely and utterly how to make the character appear more human, more accessible and much more likeable than I think anyone at all would have expected to happen.
I am a great fan of the way that this is being told. The story & plot development that we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information is presented exceptionally well. The character development that we see through the dialogue, the character interaction as well as how they act and react to the situations and circumstances they encounter continue to flesh them out more as real blokes. The pacing is superb and as it takes us through the pages revealing more and more of the story we star getting a much better understanding of the players in this little drama.
I greatly appreciate the way that we see this being structured and how the layers within the story continue to grow, evolve and emerge as new avenues open up and existing ones get further attention. It’s within these layers that the characterisation and even friendships are being made that add such depth and complexity to the story and it humanises Damian even further. How we see everything working together to create the story’s ebb & flow as well as how it moves the story forward is perfectly achieved.
The interiors are pretty nice. They tend to be more on the all-ages style for my tastes but they are well rendered nonetheless. How we see the linework with its varying weights and techniques being utilised to create the attention to detail that we see is extremely well thought out and executed. I do like how we see background being incorporated into the book and how they work within the composition of the panels bringing us the depth perception, sense of scale and the overall sense of size and scope to the book. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a remarkably talented eye for storytelling. The colour work is nicely rendered as well. The various hues and tones within the colours being utilised to create the shading, highlights and shadow work is rendered beautifully.
To top things off we get this amazing cliffhanger ending that is quite the shocker. Joshua manages to create something akin to a tennis tournament bracket format for this fight to the death. This makes it seem much more random than I suspect that it is and the fact that Rose Wilson is there and not taking part in the tournament but is befriending Damian and trying to help him is one of the better aspects of this story. The other budding friendship is surprising and yet completely logical. I’m super impressed with the writing and characterisation that we see and with the interiors here we’re getting a chance to finally like Damian Wayne for the first time ever, well for me anyway. Let’s just hope nothing comes along to change all that.