Fighting tournaments is one of my favorite types of stories to experience. Whether its in anime, manga, comic books, movies, or other mediums fighting tournaments are something I gravitate towards. That’s why what Joshua Williamson has done by having Damian Wayne’s Robin involved in the Lazarus Tournament along with some of the best fighters in the DC Universe has gotten my full attention. The first five issues of this series have done a good job at setting up the Lazarus Tournament and what Damian’s mentality is as the fighting tournament first round begins. Now with all the set-up out of the way what will the results be for the Lazarus Tournament? Let’s find out with Robin #6
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Gleb Melnikov
Colorist: Luis Guerrero
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Robin (Damian Wayne) faces off against his first round opponent Blue Shrike. Blue Shrike says he is going to get revenge for Nightwing always embarrassing his brother (Boone who went by Shrike and defeated various times by Dick Grayson as Nightwing). Robin doesn’t care and quickly kills Blue Shrike just as the rest of the first round fights are also decided in quick fashion.
Robin is immediately placed in his second round match against Tengu (a Titans villain who first appeared in the 2000 The Titans Annual). Robin disarms Tengu and kills him by driving Tengu’s own sword through his neck.
Robin asks for his next fight but Mother Soul tells him that the others haven’t finished their fights as some enjoy taking their time to kill their opponent. Robin tells Mother Soul he will soon find out what her real plans are.
Damian watches Flatline’s fight. Flatline eventually kills her opponent and takes a seat next to Damian. Damian and Flatline then watch Drenched electricute Drakon, XXL stomp Raptor to a bloody pulp, Ravager chock out her opponent, Connor Hawke easily kill Johnny Fist, Black Swan kill Aliki Marceau of Double Dare. Damian mentions that Aliki lost because she was to used to fighting with her sister.
They then watch Respawn take on Jiro while providing commentary. Respawn is then shown chopping Jiro to pieces.
Flatline gives Damian the manga he was reading back, mentioning that XXL tried to steal it when Damian disappeared. Damian thanks Flatline. Flatline mentions that her mentor never let her read manga. She explains how her mentor, Lord Death Man, taught her the ways of death and he thought the Lazarus Tournament was a good learning experience for her. Flatline goes on to say she has recently noticed Lord Death Man change and believes it may be her own influence.
Alfred Pennyworth’s spirit tells Damian he likes Flatline.
Flatline notices Damian acting weird and says he looks haunted by something. Damian says his shoulder is just bothering him and needs to heal.
Just as Flatline is about to help him Ravager and Connor Hawke interrupt the moment. Ravager says that she wants to compare notes about Mother Soul’s true motives they’ve discovered. Flatline mentions that Mother Soul looks like she is experimenting using souls and the Lazarus Pit along with the book she is carrying.
Ravager then asks Damian if he came to the tournament because Batman sent him. Damian denies this and says his reason is to correct a mistake from his past. Damian says he won’t say more after Ravager ratted him out to Red Hood (Robin #5).
Damian also does not like that Ravager is working with Connor Hawke. Connor tells Damian that something bigger is going on and that he is already taking a big risk by talking to them without the League of Shadows knowing. Connor says that they’ll likely learn the truth of the tournament when he wins.
Damian is pissed Connor thinks he will win. Just as they are about to fight Respawn shows up to stake his claim to be the one that will win the tournament. Respawn calls Damian, Connor, Ravager, and Flatline all rejects and walks away.
Sometime later Mother Soul conducts the ceremony to begin the third round of the Lazarus Tournament. She announces the latest matches as being Robin vs Respawn, Connor Hawke vs XXL, Flatline vs Drenched, and Ravager vs Black Swan.
As the four fights begin Robin makes a break for it. Respawn grabs him his sickle and tosses Robin at Mother Soul’s direction, causing her to drop her book. Robin makes runs into the forest with Respawn chasing after him.
On a cliffside Robin has Mother Soul’s book and through reading its contents discovers who Mother Soul likely is. Before Robin can say more Respawn starts to attack him from behind. End of issue.
The Good: There is no time wasted as Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov get us right through the Lazarus Tournament opening rounds in Robin #6. Normally this type of treatment would come across as rushed but completely works because of how the Lazarus Tournament was set up to be a fight to the death.
Given the nature of the Lazarus Tournament and the combatants involved it is to be expected the elite fighters would quickly establish themselves. There was already a clear line drawn as to which fighters we were to take the most serious as contenders to be declared the winners. The final eight that we got in Robin, Respawn, Connor Hawke, XXL, Flatline, Drenched, Ravager, and Black Swan were all who Williamson telegraphed to get to the final rounds. And in this instance telegraphing the Final 8 for the Lazarus Tournament works out. Because we were able to get quick flashes of why each of them should be taken seriously while keeping up Damian Wayne status as the main character of the series.
The two fights with Blue Shrike and Tengu that Damian took part of each showed how he is carrying his grandfather’s, Ra’s Al Ghul, teachings to heart. He isn’t fighting like the Robin that has been mentored by Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. The fighting style he used against Blue Shrike and Tengu was reminiscent to how he fought in his introduction during the Son of Batman storyline. Specifically, the Tengu fight reminded me of how Damian fought Tim Drake in the Batcave.
Using this more brutal way of fighting places a spotlight on how Damian really is going down the path of his grandfather. Even as he has said that he is going down his own path the impact his interaction with Ra’s Al Ghul is very apparent. Even the way he mentions how he is looking to right a wrong from his past places into question what ultimate path Damian will walk when all is said and done with the Lazarus Tournament.
Adding further stakes to the Lazarus Tournament, we see that Williamson is not just having Damian and Rose Wilson as the only ones suspicious about Mother Soul’s endgame. Both Flatline and Connor Hawke are now in a similar boat of suspecting something bigger going on. Which does make the questions around Mother Soul’s endgame come even more to the forefront as we begin the final rounds of the Lazarus Tournament. Those questions grow even larger as it looks like Damian discovered her true name.
At the same time, Williamson does a good job in showing how even keeping all the rivalries going. Because as Damian, Rose, Connor, and Flatline are sort of working together in secret they each believe they will be the ultimate winner of the tournament. This drive to be win the Lazarus Tournament allows the rivals to continue, as we saw with how Damian took offense to Connor saying he will win the tournament.
Williamson also does a good job at making how big of an asshole Respawn is to make him as the perfect opponent to hate for Damian. Through all his brief appearances in this series thus far Respawn has established himself as someone the readers wants to see either Damian or Rose defeat. We are now getting that chance Robin vs Respawn taking place in the latest round of the Lazarus Tournament. This should give us our first real extended fight of this series that could easily take up all of Robin #7 since Damian has taken his fight with Respawn out of the arena.
Once again Gleb Melnikov delivers fun, energetic artwork that fits the fighting tournament setting that Robin #6 is all about. Even when the fights are quick for the first two rounds Melnikov makes sure to maximize the time given to each character. Whether its several pages he got with Damian’s fights against Blue Shrike and Tengu or the big double page splash pages of all the fights going on at the same time, it all looked fantastic. Melnikov is just the perfect fit for the story being told in this series.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: The Lazarus Tournament has officially begun and there is no time wasted with showcasing the fighters in Robin #6. Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov do a great job working together to put over the stakes of the tournament through all the various fights. In the middle of all the fighting we got a lot of great character work for Robin, Ravager, Connor Hawke, Flatline, and Respawn. There really is nothing more that can be asked for except wanting the next issue immediately.
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