Damian Wayne has gone through a lot the last two years. From being forced to witness Bane kill Alfred Pennyworth by snapping his neck to a fallout with his father, Bruce Wayne, Damian is now on his own. At first it looked as though Damian was going to be giving up being Robin and becoming something else. But that looks to have changed as Damian continues being Robin as he is going to be entering a new fighting tournament called the Lazarus Tournament. This Lazarus Tournament looks to pit some of the best fighters in the DC Universe with major life altering prizes awaiting the winner. Let’s find out how the Lazarus Tournament begins with Robin #1.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Gleb Melnikov
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Batman, Nightwing, Robin (Tim Drake), Spoiler, and Orphan work with Oracle to try to find Damian Wayne but can’t track him down. Bruce Wayne reflects on how Damian only saw the man that was Batman as his father not what it took to get there. Oracle tells Bruce that they will find Damian in time.
Elsewhere Robin (Damian Wayne) fights King Snake (Edmund Dorrance, father of Bane) in a cage. Robin easily dodges all of King Snake’s attacks until he eventually decides to fight. Robin then quickly defeats King Snake. Robin is then awarded the cash prize for the fight, as someone from the shadows watches all this takes place.
Later while reading a manga Damian talks with the ghost of Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred asks Damian if he fought and humiliated King Snake because he is Bane’s father. Damian says King Snake was just the next fight he had lined up. Alfred then asks Damian if he knows who he really is. Damian says he is planning on winning the League of Lazarus Tournament and discover why his parents (Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul) hid it from him. He then tells Alfred his guilt trip won’t work on him.
The mysterious person who watched Robin’s fight appears and gives Damian the marker he needs to participate in the League of Lazarus Tournament. Damian happily accepts the marker.
Damian then heads to the boat for the tournament but before he gets on he gives a family in need the prize money he won from defeating King Snake.
On the boat Bronze Tiger, Black Swan, and others notice Robin on the boat and talk about what he is doing there.
The next day the boats carrying all of the League of Lazarus Tournament participants arrive at Lazarus Island. When he gets off his boat Robin runs into Ravager and Respawn (someone who is dressed in a costume similar to Deathstroke).
Mother Soul appears and welcomes all the League of Lazarus Tournament participants to the Lazarus Island. As she begins talking about the tournament Robin gets impatient and says he is there to fight. He then proclaims himself as the Son of the Bat and deadliest woman alive as well as grandson of Ra’s Al Ghul. He then says that everyone there can either fight him one at a time or all at once.
Mother Soul asks if anyone wants to take Robin up on his offer. Flatline jumps into the ring and immediately starts trading blows with Robin. Robin gloats that he has to weaknesses. Flatline calls out Robin for not knowing the number one rule of the tournament “On Lazarus Island we fight to the death.” Flatline then punches Robin through the chest and pulls out his heart. End of issue.
The Good: Robin #1 hits the ground running as Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov make it clear what this series is all about. In the process we quickly come to understand where Damian Wayne is at this point in his life as Robin and what is driving him to participate in the League of Lazarus Tournament.
The most impressive thing about Robin #1 is its pacing. It moves quick and with a purpose. Everything that we get from the dialogue or fighting serves a purpose to put over Damian as Robin and the greater League of Lazarus Tournament. But even as we quickly move into the tournament there is a lot of strong character work being done to get you to the point where you are shocked by the ending with Flatline pulling out Robin’s heart from his chest.
That shock is because you are invested in where Damian is at this point in his life. The opening of Robin #1 does a great job at setting the tone for Damian’s journey as we see Batman, Nightwing, Tim Drake’s Robin, Oracle, Spoiler, and Orphan all searching for any sign of Damian’s whereabouts. It immediately puts into perspective of how Damian has gone off the grid as he is on a journey to prove himself and won’t let anyone stop him.
This also works to establish a sub-plot for this series being around Damian’s relationship with his father, Bruce Wayne. We see that Bruce has realized he did not do all he could to be a proper father to Damian as his son only has knowledge of his current self as Batman. We see that carried into Damian’s proclamation of being Bruce and Talia’s son towards the end of Robin #1 that there is a lot of truth in what Bruce tells Oracle. What Williamson has planned when it comes to exploring Bruce and Damian’s relationship in the future will be interesting to see slowly play out as a sub-plot in this series.
The fight with King Snake, who is the father of Bane, was handled well to play with some recent continuity of how the reason Damian is on his current path is because of the events of “City Of Bane.” Even though he tells the ghost of Alfred Pennyworth that defeating King Snake wasn’t out of revenge it clearly played a part in why the fight happened. Just in the fact that Damian is imagining Alfred’s ghost talking to him shows that seeing Alfred die at the hands of Bane in Batman #77 shook Damian to his core. It’s not something anyone could easily recover from and it would not be surprising if this isn’t the only time we see Damian talk to Alfred’s ghost in this series.
All of that said it is the set-up for the League of Lazarus Tournament that was going to make or break this issue and Williamson did not disappoint. Williamson does a great job quickly introducing us to recognizable participants like Ravanger, Bronze Tiger, and Connor Hawke while mixing in lesser known fighters like Talon, Black Swan, and Nite-Wing. Having all these different characters involved in the League of Lazarus Tournament establishes how this is going to be a global fighting tournament with the best fighters who are ready to fight to the death.
Speaking of death, the fight between Robin and Flatline was a strong opener for the League of Lazarus Tournament. Williamson played into how overconfident Damian as Robin entered this tournament. We see that not only in his speech calling out all the participants but in the way he fought Flatline. Robin was filled with overconfidence that he could end the fight whenever he wanted. This left him open for Flatline to show how she is not messing around like Robin is as she brutally rips out his heart. This action not only puts over Flatline as a fighter and how every following fight will equally pit each participant in a fight to the death.
Gleb Melnikov art style fits well with what the story around the League of Lazarus Tournament is in Robin #1. With this story hitting similar plot beats to fighting tournaments we’ve seen in animes and mangas, Melnikov brings in that similar energy we see in that genre into this comic book. His artwork is very anime-esque, which fits in more with how we have a young protagonist in Damian Wayne as Robin. The presentation of the League of Lazarus Tournament has a big fight feel all thanks to Melnikov’s artwork.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov waste no time in getting the League of Lazarus Tournament started in Robin #1. You are immediately caught up to speed with where Damian Wayne is at this point in his life and why he would take part in a fighting tournament to the death. The presentation for the tournament itself gets you hyped for how things will turn out for Damian when all things are said and done.
To comment on this article and other Comic Book Revolution content visit our Facebook page, Twitter feed and Instagram. You can catch up with all of Kevin’s thoughts about comics, anime, TV shows, movies and more over on Twitter. You can also watch the fun and silly videos Kevin is making over on his TikTok.