Batman vs. Robin #5 – Mark Waid, Writer; Mahmud Asrar, Scott Godlewski, Artists; Jordie Bellaire, Colorists
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: This series has taken an odd path—releasing four issues, then dovetailing into Lazarus Planet, which itself had a unique structure, before coming back here for a double-sized final issue. It could have easily gone very wrong—but fortunately, Mark Waid has this story well in hand with an emotional and action-packed final issue. When we last left off, King Fire Bull had been defeated and the Lazarus Storm had been quelled—but the epilogue revealed that the Devil Nezha was alive inside the body of the mortally wounded Batman. As he tracks down Robin and captures him with the hope of finding his wayward son, Robin realizes that there’s a twisted catch-22 to this fight—if he beats Nezha, Batman dies.
Despite these grim stakes, there is a lot of fun in this story, most of it courtesy of Monkey Prince. Gene Luen Yang’s shapeshifting mythological teen hero has gone from being a side player in the DCU to a major event player, and he’s a lot of fun. He and Damian play off each other perfectly, with Damian being too serious by half and Marcus rarely taking anything seriously. But despite all the comedy Monkey Prince provides, he’s also invaluable to the fight—along with the team of magic users that Damian recruits. For his part, Nezha is a larger-than-life villain, using Batman and his gear as pawns in a supernatural assault that feels perfectly at home in an over-the-top event comic like this one.
The final battle is great, and then the story shifts dramatically as nature takes its course—and Damian prepares to make a shocking sacrifice of his own, one that shows how far he’s come as a hero and how far he still has to go in order to overcome his own troubled backstory. Waid then takes another route, and ends the story in a way that some could find hokey and overly optimistic—but I find actually does a great job of showing why he works so well as a DC writer. Waid is one of the most overtly optimistic superhero writers out there, even on a usually darker character like Batman, and the ending to this issue had me grinning from ear to ear. I just wish the story had brought Alfred back for real.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.