After countless battles to the death the League of Lazarus Tournament is coming to an end with a full on family war breaking out with Damian Wayne at the center of it all. Given that there is no love lost between mother and son in Mother Soul and Ra’s Al Ghul can Damian settle things once and for all? And even if he can stop his family from going to war there is a deeper plot involving the Lazarus Pit that looks to be appearing around the world. With all this going on are we in store for a set-up of an even bigger story that the young Robin will be involved in? Let’s find out with Robin #11.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Gleb Melkinov
Colorist: Luis Guerrero
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Robin stops Ra’s Al Ghul and Mother Soul from killing each other, giving Talia Al Ghul the opportunity to have her League of Shadows crew to capture Mother Soul. Talia then reveals to her son that Lazarus Resin has been appearing around the world.
When hearing that Master Dusk has left for Corto Maltese Robin tells his mom that he, Ravager, Flatline, Connor Hawke, and Respawn will find him.
In Corto Maltese the group split up with Ravager taking Respawn with her. Finally alone Ravager questions Respawn about his true identity. Respawn takes off his mask leaving Ravager shocked at who he really is. Ravager suggests they both leave before anyone else discovers Respawn’s true identity.
Meanwhile Connor Hawke runs into Lady Shiva. Lady Shiva congratulates Connor on his win and warns him that there is another tournament around the corner he should keep an eye out for.
Elsewhere Talia announces that the League of Lazarus and League of Assassins will be merged into the League of Shadows. She then offers Black Swan, Raptor, Double Dare, and Tigress the opportunity to join the League of Shadows.
Talia then goes to question the imprisoned Mother Soul about her Lazarus Resin operation. Mother Soul does not provide a true answer, instead she calls out Ra’s Al Ghul for never changing his ways of always looking to extend his life as the Demon’s Head.
Back in Corto Maltese Robin, Flatline, and Connor finally track down Master Dusk. The trio make quick work of Master Dusk and his crew of ninjas.
Talia then arrives with Black Swan, XXL, Double Dare, and Tigress having accepted her offer. With everyone together Flatline suggest they party it up in Corto Maltese.
Later that night, as everyone is partying in different bars Damian and Flatline talk alone about Ravager and Respawn having disappeared. As they talk Flatline reveals her real name is Nika. Damian then mentions that they need a tiebreaker since they each won a fight. Damian and Nika then kiss much to Talia’s shock, with Ra’s mentioning how Damian takes after his father.
Sometime later, over on Lazarus Island Nika tells Damian she is going to resume her training under Lord Death Man. She then asks Damian what he plans to do. Damian says he is going back home not to meet his father but to do something else he needs to do.
Back in Gotham City we see the gravesite of Alfred Pennyworth as Damian tells this to Nika. End of issue.
The Good: Robin #11 is a great example of how you can conclude a major storyline that’s been told over the course of a year and set-up even bigger things down the line in a satisfying way. It is truly impressive how Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melkinov are able to weave between bringing an end to the League of Lazarus Tournment while setting up future plotlines.
Right away Williamson and Melkinov do not waste anytime in wrapping things up with Mother Soul. The previous issue of Robin ended in a way that there wasn’t much else to do. It was either put an end to the League of Lazarus Tournament quickly or have an extended fight that takes place over the course of Robin #11. Williamson and Melkinov made the right choice with going with the former as Mother Soul was officially stopped in the opening two pages of Robin #11. That left the rest of the issue to be focused on concluding different character arcs in a way that leaves plenty of room open to explore all players in this storyline in the future.
Of course the star of the show was Damian Wayne. Over the course of the League of Lazarus Tournament Williamson has really brought up how Damian’s future was going to be decided with this story. Damian was at a major crossroad moment in his life as he left his father, Bruce Wayne’s, side and looked to be heading down the path of his grandfather, Ra’s Al Ghul, as has been shown in multiple alternate futures. The answer we get is that Damian isn’t following his father or grandfather’s path. Instead Williamson gives Damian an alternate path where he really is striking out on his own to define himself beyond his two different family legacy’s. Tying all that back to his superhero roots as Robin makes each decision he made for himself feel like he has finally grown up to have his own agency in life.
Making Damian’s character arc work even better is that for the first time in his life he found himself a group of friends. So far the only people we’ve seen Damian be genuinely close to are Dick Grayson and Jon Kent. Even when he has tried to be friends with other heroes like his time on the Teen Titans it lead to failure because of his own superiority complex getting the best of him. But with what he experienced throughout this League of Lazarus Tournament Damian was able to grow to better understand that having a group of friends to relate to is important.
Which made the shot of Ravager, Flatline, Connor Hawke, and Respawn next to him as he told his mother they would go after Master Dusk one of the best Damian Wayne moments of all time. This made the entire team-up in Corto Maltese to be extra satisfying as Robin, Flatline, and Connor Hawke easily took care of Master Dusk. With how efficiently they got this mission done you understood the great deal of trust these characters have built up through their shared experience.
Bringing all this back to Damian learning Flatline’s real name of Nika further highlighted how full circles of a story we got in Robin #11. Williamson did a really great job building the natural chemistry between these two. There dialogue together as they talked about what happened all felt natural. Which led to the kiss Damian and Nika shared a great payoff to their relationship. While they both do end up going their separate ways hopefully we do see Williamson have Damian and Nika involved in each others lives after the upcoming crossover with Batman and Deathstroke Inc is over.
Speaking of Deathstroke Inc, it was interesting to see that Williamson ended up having Ravager and Respawn share a strong moment together. Ravager learning the identity of Respawn was actually a surprise as I expect this to be a story dragged out with the two continuing their rivalry there. Mixing things up with Ravager learning Respawn’s identity and leaving for parts unknown added to the mystery of who Respawn truly is for this decision to be made. This sets up another sub-plot to be invested in with other characters not named Batman, Robin, or Deathstroke in the upcoming crossover.
The other major plot point set up by Robin #11 for the upcoming crossover involving the Lazarus Resin out on the market across the world was an intriguing development. Williamson has done a great job giving the Lazarus Pit a sense of importance once again. For a long time it became a crutch to use the Lazarus Pit to explain away a lot of things. Now the Lazarus Pit has become something else with this latest developing.
Having the Lazarus Resin plot be led by the drama between Talia Al Ghul, Ra’s Al Ghul, and Mother Soul was a great choice. Talia has been really elevated through all of these developments as she is stepping up to be the leader of the League of Shadows. Merging both the League of Lazarus and League of Assassins into her League of Shadows puts a definitive stamp on Ra’s and Mother Soul no longer being in charge. This is Talia’s time and she is more than willing to take it, as shown with how Black Swan, XXL, Double Dare, and Tigress do not hesitate in joining Talia.
The appearance of Lady Shiva in the middle of Robin #11 was certainly a surprise. Lady Shiva warning Connor Hawke that there is another fighting tournament coming and he should watch his back is something to keep an eye on. Whether this is a set-up for another storyline in Robin or possibly a new Green Arrow series starring Connor post-Death of the Justice League will be interesting to see. The possibilities are all there given how Williamson is leading the current direction of the DC Universe.
As mentioned earlier, Melkinov did a fantastic job throughout Robin #11 with the artwork. Melkinov artwork continued to give this Robin series a distinct look from other DC Comics titles. Everything was extremely animated with sharp lines that added to how all the different character moments stood out. And while we didn’t get a whole lot of action what we did get with Robin, Flatline, and Connor Hawke taking down Master Dusk was all extremely well choreographed.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melkinov do not miss with this ending to their League of Lazarus Tournament in Robin #11. There was an incredible amount of payoff that will leave fans extremely satisfied. At the same time, there is more than enough set-up for different future character arcs and storylines that will leave fans coming back for more of Damian Wayne and company’s adventures. And that is really all you can ask for as a fan.