With the Lazarus Tournament about to begin Damian Wayne received some last-minute training from his grandfather, Ra’s Al Ghul. Now after Respawn killed Rose Wilson, the last Lazarus Tournament participant who didn’t experience her first death, the tournament is ready to begin. Because of that Damian must now race back to Lazarus Island so he can take part in the fight to the death tournament. But before he can make it back to Lazarus Island Damian must get pass the Batman Family, specifically Nightwing, Red Hood, Tim Drake’s Robin, and Spoiler. How will this reunion of the Robins go? Let’s find out with Robin #5.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Gleb Melnikov
Colorist: Luis Guerrero
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On Lazarus Island Rose Wilson wakes up after being revive. She immediately goes looking for Respawn to get her revenge after he killed her. She is stopped by Flatline, who informs Rose that the League of Lazarus sorcerers are getting the arena ready to begin the Lazarus Tournament.
Rose spots Respawn and starts fighting him. Flatline and Connor Hawke stop them from fighting as Mother Soul has yet to allow the fighting in the tournament to begin.
Seeing that Damian Wayne is not there, Rose asks where Robin is at.
Elsewhere, Robin runs away from Nightwing, Tim Drake’s Robin, Spoiler, and Red Hood. Nightwing reveals they found Robin thanks to Rose contacting Red Hood about taking part in a death tournament.
Mad that Nightwing doesn’t trust him Robin continues running. Robin then says that if they can catch him he will go back to Gotham City. Hearing this Nightwing declares the start of the Batman Family Rooftop Race.
Tim Drake and Spoiler are the first to catch up to Robin. Robin uses Tim and Stephanie’s on-off relationship to distract them and cause them to collide into one another.
Nightwing is the next to catch up to Robin. Robin quickly cuts Nightwing’s grapple line while calling out the whole Ric Grayson confusion.
As soon as Robin lands on another rooftop Red Hood stops him by throwing some batarangs at Robin. Robin admits that he understands his brothers and sisters well after watching them all this time. Damian mentions that while Dick Grayson is the most experienced, Tim Drake is the smartest, and Stephanie Brown is the bravest that Jason Todd is the most emotional.
Robin then surprises Red Hood by hugging him. Red Hood hugs Robin back. As soon as he does Damian knocks him out with a taser.
Robin finally reaches the pier where the League of Lazarus have a boat heading back to Lazarus Island.
Nightwing appears and wishes Robin a happy birthday. Nightwing then gives Robin a birthday present. Robin thinks that Nightwing is trying to trick him but still opens the gift. The gift turns out to be the trapeze bar with the words “Versus The World” engraved. Nightwing reveals that Alfred gave to Dick the trapeze bar from his family’s act to remind him of his past, present, and future.
Damian takes off his mask and, with tears in his eyes, admits that hearing Alfred’s neck snap when he was killed by Bane he understood the weight death has on someone. Dick apologizes for not being there for Damian. He goes on to say that it took him a while to figure out who he was after spending so much time being defined as Batman’s sidekick and leader of the Titans. Damian wonders why Dick is telling him this. Dick says that while he, Tim, Stephanie, and Jason were all Robins to Bruce first Damian was his Robin.
Damian admits that Dick has caught him. Dick says that is not what it looks like and plays up Damian escaping. Putting his mask back on Damian as Robin jumps on the League of Lazarus boat.
Tim’s Robin, Red Hood, and Spoiler notice Nightwing let Damian go and wonder what they will tell Batman. Nightwing says they will tell him that his son is safe and to believe in Damian as what he is now a part of is a fight he must do alone.
On Lazarus Island the arena for the tournament is completed. Master Dusk tells Connor that with Damian gone the tournament will be easy. Ravager hears this and demands to know what they did to Robin.
Robin suddenly appears sitting on a tree. When Ravager questions where he was at Robin says that he was training. Robin then warns Flatline and Connor Hawke that he will cut their heads off when they fight.
Robin then talks to Ravager ratting him out to Red Hood. Robin then asks what the deal between Rose and Jason is.
Before getting an answer Mother Soul declares that the Lazarus Tournament can now begin. Robin, Ravager, Flatline, Respawn, and other participants all charge at one another to begin the fighting. End of issue.
The Good: Robin #5 is an excellent final prelude to set the stage for the official start of the Lazarus Tournament. Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov provide Damian Wayne with a lot of strong character work to get him emotionally ready to take on the weight that comes with everything he is about to face.
Starting out with the fallout of Rose Wilson being the final person participating in the Lazarus Tournament to die was a good choice. It reminded us of the other participants of the Lazarus Tournament that will also be a focus in this story. In doing so Williamson is able to add some a level of making things personal for Rose now.
Because up to this point Rose has been driven by her own secret goal for why she is participating in this tournament. Now with Respawn, someone who is following in the footsteps of her father, being the one to kill her Rose has her own personal fight in this. Adding this rivalry between Ravager and Respawn helps make this story more than just the different rivalries that Damian as Robin is gaining through the tournament.
Having the bulk of Robin #5 be taken up by the Robin Rooftop Race was a great way to have a mix of fun and strong character exploration. We see throughout this meeting how Damian Wayne does have a big chip on his shoulder when it comes to proving himself. Seeing Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Jason Todd, and Stephanie Brown teaming up against him made his own anger over how things we went his dad, Bruce Wayne, intensify.
At the same time, Williamson was able to work in the different personalities of each Robin. There was at least one line given to Dick, Tim, Stephanie, or Jason that spoke to where each of them are in their present. Its not always an easy thing to do and something that I really appreciated that Williamson did to get across the personalities of each Robin.
While Damian was clearly hurt when believing his family didn’t trust his decisions to be part of the Lazarus Tournament he was still focused enough to stay on mission. Seeing how he specifically used Tim and Stephanie’s “it’s complicated” status when it comes to their relationship was well done. Even better was how Damian showed a strong understanding of how Jason’s own emotions are his greatest strength and weakness was a great play. Damian was able to actually use an honest moment in admitting the strengths of his brothers and sisters to get Jason to drop his guard. It was all a great way to keep the momentum of this being a race without actually having the Robins fight one another.
The Robin Rooftop Race also worked to build up the reunion between Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne to hit all the emotional notes needed. Williamson did an excellent job showing how Dick and Damian’s history as Batman and Robin was a meaningful time for both of them. There is an honest big brother-little brother bond between them. It really helped emphasize how there are more similarities between Dick and Damian than just having shared time as the Dynamic Duo
The gift Dick gives Damian being something with such a personal value made Damian finally opening up about how Alfred’s death has impacted him. Seeing Damian be so honest was the biggest step forward that the character has made in a long time. Damian is such a guarded person that you as the reader forget he is still a young teen sometimes. Of course seeing someone killed right in front of you, especially someone you loved like Damian clearly did with Alfred, would seriously impact you. This honesty made it understandable that Dick would approve of Damian participating in the Lazarus Tournament.
Now with the Lazarus Tournament officially beginning it will be interesting to see how all the different fights are set up. Because the final page did make it look as though this will be a battle royal type tournament. But given how many rivalries have already been set up there is likely more to the Lazarus Tournament structure than what we see in the final page. With all the different players involve, specifically the League of Lazarus backing Connor Hawke, Williamson has created a story where like Damian you as the reader will have your head on a swivel for whatever surprises may happen.
Gleb Melnikov once again delivers an energetic looking comic book with his work on Robin #5. The sense of motion never stops, working to the advantage of the story with the Robin Rooftop Race. Melnikov has all the Robins make use of the rooftop environment to tell its own story with how Damian continues to evade Dick, Tim, Jason, and Stephanie throughout the race. It all builds well to how emotional the story turns when Dick and Damian talk with each other towards the end of Robin #5.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Robin #5 is an excellent mix of fun action and emotional character development that is a must-have for Batman Family fans. Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov make great use of the history between Damian Wayne, Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown, and Jason Todd to tell a wonderful story. It all helps to build even greater excitement for how the Lazarus Tournament will turn out now that it has officially started.
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.