Everything about the Lazarus Tournament has been building to the epic rematch between Damian Wayne and Connor Hawke. In their first match Connor Hawke completely dominated Damian Wayne in their fight. But now that Damian has gone through additional training from his grandfather, Ra’s Al Ghul, and fought various competitors in the official Lazarus Tournament he is not the same fighter as before. Can Damian Wayne overcome the invincible wall that is Connor Hawke to come out victorious in the finals of the Lazarus Tournament? Let’s find out with Robin #8
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Gleb Melnikov and Max Dunbar
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Underneath Lazarus Island Mother Soul’s henchmen prepare the Lazarus Pit for the outcome of the finals in the tournament.
At the Lazarus Tournament stage Robin (Damian Wayne) and Connor Hawke face off with Ravager, Respawn, and Flatline sitting in the crowd to watch.
After remembering their last meeting with each other Robin and Connor begin their fight. They are trade shots and are able to counter each others attacks much to the enjoyment of the crowd, that is split cheering for both fighters.
Eventually Connor is able to get the advantage and throws Robin into the crowd. Pissed off, Robin lunges and is able to strike Connor with enough force to cause him to bleed. After wiping off the blood from his face Connor goes about systematically dominating Robin much to the shock of Ravager and Flatline.
Connor eventually tells Robin to stay down. Robin says he has taken abuse his entire life and will not stop because after his first death he understood Lazarus Island was the place where he could find out if he was truly the monster people tell him he is.
Robin goes on the offensive but Connor easily blocks and dodges all the attacks. Connor then kills Robin by twisting his neck.
Mother Soul declares Connor the winner. She then asks all the other participants of the Lazarus Tournament if they would like to risk their third and final life trying to beat Connor. When no one steps up Mother Soul declares Connor Hawke the winner of the Lazarus Tournament.
Master Dusk proposes an alliance between the League of Lazarus and Shadows to prove Ra’s Al Ghul wrong for burying the truth about the Demon. Mother Soul accepts that proposal and opens the Lazarus Pit to complete her ceremony.
The entire Lazarus Island starts to shake as a green light shoots out of the ground from the underground Lazarus Pit.
Mother Soul then has the members of the League of Lazarus and Shadows surround all the participants of the Lazarus Tournament. Mother Soul reveals her intentions of killing them as tributes to unleash full power of the Demon of the Lazarus Pit. Mother Soul then tells Connor not to resist and accept the immortality he will be given by becoming the avatar for the Demon.
Robin suddenly appears revived and declares that the tournament isn’t over since he is still alive. Connor calls out the fact that this moment is what he has been trained for and only he can stop the Demon.
Before they can argue the Lazarus Pit’s Demon rises and stabs Connor through the stomach from behind much to Robin’s shock. End of issue.
The Good: Robin #8 is exactly what it needed to be. It was an intense fight between Damian Wayne and Connor Hawke that wasted zero time in getting us to the conclusion. Everything about the fight was what you want to see as a fans even as the supernatural twist ending could leave a lot to be desired.
Right away the stage was set for Damian Wayne vs Connor Hawke to be an intense fight. Like any good final match of a tournament from a movie or manga, the fight builds over time. The fight begins with Damian and Connor trading shots as they each assess their opponents abilities at this point. There was no words needed in this initial clash as you understood the respect level both characters had with one another.
Which is a big change to how in their first fight Connor knew he was the better fighter. This time around Connor knew he was fighting a more focus and determined Damian so he couldn’t just go all out from the beginning. Instead he actually showed Damian respect by taking the time to figure out the improved fighting style the young Robin had gained.
The same goes for Damian as he did have the memories of his loss to Connor from their previous fight from Robin #3 in mind. Every shot from the moment they started was done with a purpose to try to find an opening. That is shown with how Damian used his own rage and Connor’s overconfidence to actually make Connor bleed with one of his blows.
Having a large crowd that included Ravager, Flatline, Respawn, and all the participants of the Lazarus Tournament was a fantastic choice. Williamson was able to work in the crowd shots with Gleb Melnikov and Max Dunbar that added to the growing intensity of Damian and Connor’s fight. The crowd shots especially made the ending with Connor dominating and killing Damian to have a big impact in how it all played out.
While Damian did lose the fight Williamson did a good job showing how this was more than winning a tournament for Robin. As he told Nightwing in Robin #5, joining the Lazarus Tournament was as more about discovering who he really is than it is about proving he is the best fighter. That determination makes how Damian does not quit even after being killed by Connor and believing he will win in the end work as an effect part of his character arc in this series.
The ending with an actual demon rising out of the Lazarus Pit is something I am 50-50 on. What I did like about this development from Mother Soul is the potential of the different factions of the League of Assassins that Ra’s Al Ghul split up reuniting. There are a lot of implications to the League of Lazarus and Shadows teaming up that could go beyond this arc and impact the rest of the Batman franchise. Which positions Mother Soul well as the end boss of this story even with the Demon of the Lazarus Pit’s appearance.
Gleb Melnikov and Max Dunbar worked well together in how they split the artwork duties for Robin #8. The artwork for Damian Wayne vs Connor Hawke gave off the intensity you expect from a final fight of a major tournament. There was a sense of escalation with each blow both fighters threw that built into the final result of the fight. Even though the reveal of the Demon of the Lazarus Pit was a bit villain of the week with the reveal the design was at least fitting for the concept of this demon.
The Bad: The mystical aspect of the Lazarus Tournament never bothered me. This is something you just have to accept given how Mother Soul’s character, like Ra’s Al Ghul, has lived for a very long time. What just did not work with the mystical direction of the story was the physical manifestation of the Demon of the Lazarus Pit. It was more of a laughable moment because of how lame it was than one where you are concerned for all the characters not on Mother Soul’s side.
It would’ve been much more effective if the energy from the Lazarus Pit just went into Connor Hawke and he had glowing green eyes to represent him being taken over by the Demon of the Lazarus Pit. Because him being stabbed through the gut by the physical manifestation of said Demon just did not work. It was all just one step to far that maybe could’ve been better refined in its execution.
Overall: Robin #8 delivers the epic clash between Damian Wayne and Connor Hawke we’ve all been waiting for. The pacing of the entire fight was excellent. Even if the ending with what the result of this fight led to left something to be desired Robin #8 was still a fun comic book to read.
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