Batman Vs Robin #5 review

The Lazarus Resin has stopped falling from the sky. The threat of King Fire Bull is over. Earth’s sorcerers have seen their power restored. But not everything is back to normal – the Devil Nezha, who sparked the whole Lazarus Planet business when he took over Damian Wayne, has a new berth.

Oh. Dear. Nezha has taken over Batman.

Damian being Damian, though, he talks his way down, and soon he’s fleeing the Batcave on a Batbike. Unfortunately, there’s a bigger Bat-vehicle for Bat-Nezha (as no-one is calling him) to use for pursuit.

But the cavalry arrives. The very furry cavalry.

And while Monkey Prince helps Damian escape Nezha, the news mother Talia phones in isn’t good.

Batman vs Robin, when it began, seemed to be just another mini-series. A very entertaining mini-series – heck, the core creators are Mark Waid and Mahmud Asrar – but something to be enjoyed and forgotten. A couple of issues in, though, we learned it was leading to an event, Lazarus Planet. I’ve reviewed every issue and tie-in here – search ‘Lazarus’ if you’re keen! – except the final issue, Lazarus Planet: Omega. It didn’t wow me, and having reviewed giant-sized issues week after week, I just couldn’t be bothered.

This issue did knock me out. It’s a hi-octane, high-stakes thriller showcasing Damian’s smarts, his ability to lead a team…you did notice all those other Bat-folk on the cover, didn’t you? Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Jason Todd, Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown and Barbara Gordon aka Nightwing, another Robin, Red Hood and Batgirl times three. They all have a part to play – in the story, they weaken BatmaNezha, in your hands, they showcase Asrar’s facility with fight choreography.

They’re not enough to save the day, though. Neither are another group of guests stars, some very powerful folk. Nope, it takes something really, really big to save Batman once the Devil Nezha is extracted from him. So far as comic book moments go it’s rather cathartic… I put down the iPad and punched the air.

Damian is a divisive character. He’s more than a little obnoxious, his learned behaviour was initially problematic for a would-be hero (don’t mention the beheading!) and he ran an illegal prison. But he’s always entertaining, and with every year we see more and more of his good heart. His alliance with Jon Kent was a huge part of Damian becoming a more appealing personality, and his time with the Teen Titans helped him take himself less seriously. He may still give everyone the verbals, and whine about being a loner, but he really can play well with others. I admit it, I like the little scrote – his father’s mind for a plan, and mother Talia al-Ghul’s zeal, along with his athleticism and Assassins’ Guild training, make him a formidable, if very short, figure.

So I’m not surprised he can rescue Batman from the clutches of a demon. It helps that he’s written by Waid, one of the smartest writers in comics, and drawn by Asrar, whose artistry gets better with every assignment – words and pictures flow seamlessly together. Visual highlights include the return of the Batmobile from the Batman & Robin series in which Grant Morrison had Damian mentored by Dick. And there’s a shot of BatmaNezha that’s truly striking, credit also to Jordie Bellaire for the hot colours.

And the letters are by the ever-excellent Steve Wands. As for the other standout moments – and there are a few – I’ll let you enjoy them in context.

The book ends on a triumphant note, with Batman hale and hearty once again, Damian having demonstrated what he’s willing to sacrifice to save his father. Mark Waid, Mahmud Asrar and friends have produced a terrific story. I don’t think you need to read the spin-offs to appreciate what a good Damian and Bruce tale this is; it began with Batman desperately trying to save a possessed Robin, it ends with Robin desperately trying to save a possessed Batman, and shows their different, complementary approaches. I’m ready now to see them working as a team.

I’m gushing! I’d love to hear what you thought of this 38pp issue, from the trade paperback-ready cover by Asrar with colourist Nathan Fairbairn to the epic final image.

3 thoughts on “Batman Vs Robin #5 review

  1. I won’t spoil anything either but when Monkey Prince said what needed to be said, I teared up. That last bit, how Damian (I still can’t call him Robin since even Batman gave him a free pass on the beheading*) saved the day had a tear actually escaping. If time travel were possible I’d smack me a few years ago for not liking Waid’s work and I have been an Asrar fan since Dynamo 5 but this was apex storytelling by both.

    *and it was the Spook, goddammit. With his MO I can think of a half dozen ways to get the blood off of Damian’s hands and no one’s thought to do it! Now, trying to kill Damian was just as bad but at least they’ve made peace.


  2. Hey Steve,

    Gotta ask – why didn’t you like Waid? I certainly haven’t bought everything of his, but over the years he has def been a “go to” for me for quality work, especially DC, and I’m so pleased he’s back with that company and seemingly playing a key role again.
    There are a few let downs. I – and I think lots of others judging from online reviews – was underwhelmed by his JLA run back in the early 2000s (thought I’ve thought about giving it another shot. He may have suffered from coming immediately after Morrison’s run, which is still one of my top favorite comics ever.)
    Anyway, just curious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t like the Avengers stuff. I may have painted everything else for a bit with an unfair brush after that. I hadn’t read much of his DC work before that.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.