Not officially a prelude to Lazarus Planet, Batman vs. Robin #4 kicks off the event in a way while Batman continues to attempt to free his son Damian from the grasp of Devil Nezha. Considering Devil Nezha’s mastery of magic, it’s an uphill battle, but where there’s a will, there’s a way with Batman.
Batman vs. Robin #4 doesn’t have a recap page, but it’s simple enough: Damian is under a spell and is working for Devil Nezha, and while Batman has dodged Damian’s attacks, they come face to face on Lazarus Island this week. It’s an island firmly established in Joshua Williamson’s Robin run that recently ended, and it’s also the catalyst for Lazarus Planet.
Given the cover, one can guess the mask of Dr. Fate plays a heavy part in this concluding chapter of the ongoing fight between Batman and Robin. The issue opens with Devil Nezha being much too confident in his victory over Batman as he works with Damian’s grandmother to rule all of Earth and control all 8 billion humans. There’s a hint that his son is his greatest rival before we get a showdown of the century between Batman and Robin.
The fight is well choreographed, with fight moves detailed via captions as Damian makes them. Writer Mark Waid does a great job establishing Batman’s voice via these captions. It puts Batman in control, even when he’s taking hits from Damian. It’s a cool angle to take on a fight we’ve seen before as it shows Batman is in control, even when he doesn’t seem to be. This all builds towards an exicting twist in the battle that leads to the third act of the issue and a well earned conclusion. In the grand scheme of things this also feels like a well earned lead-in to Lazarus Planet, which should be fun to unpack in January.
Art is shared between Mahmud Asrar and Scott Godlewski and between them the book looks clean as heck and pleasing to the eye. You can tell where each artist takes over and both deliver, whether it’s action or character acting. Jordie Bellaire colors both, giving the book a singular visual identity. There’s plenty of greens thanks to the Lazarus Pits, and when things get trippy and magical it’s fantastical in the best of ways. It’s very Doctor Strange about itself, which is a nice touch.
Much of what transpires is earned, although there is a bit of a lucky moment when it comes to Dr. Fate’s helmet. Timing is everything and while Talia is a trained fighter it’s a little too convenient how it plays out since it’s not as foolproof of a plan one might expect from Batman. This is comics, though, so anything goes. Devil Nezha’s son also pops up conveniently, though he is set up well early on when mentioned by Devil Nezha.
Batman vs. Robin #4 wraps up the battle of father and son in an exciting way while earning it as a good lead in for Lazarus Planet. Most importantly, Batman vs. Robin gets inside Batman’s head with an expected magical plot twist not to be missed.
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