Overview: In Batman vs Robin #5, Robin must use his wits to defeat the Devil Nezha, who is inhabiting the body of Batman.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Batman vs Robin #5 begins with Robin (Damian Wayne) summarizing the events of previous Batman vs Robin issues, as well as the Lazarus Planet mini-event. He brings readers up to speed on what happened after the explosion of Lazarus Island in Batman vs Robin #4, catching readers up to speed on the resulting mega-storm that affected the planet and Black Alice’s imprisonment of King Fire Bull, the Devil Nezha’s son.
Robin awakens in the Batcave as a captive of Devil Nezha, who has taken over the body of Batman. Despite Robin sending a team against Nezha, the would-be conqueror still succeeded.
It’s revealed that Nezha left Robin alive because he wants Robin to tell the villain where King Fire Bull is. Robin doesn’t know, but he pretends as he does. Damian tells Devil Nezha that he’ll lead the magical mastermind to King Fire Bull. Instead, he plugs his ears and activates an alarm that momentarily stuns Nezha.
Robin takes the few seconds of freedom afforded by the alarm to hop on his bike and book it. Nezha pursues in the Batmobile.
Talia al Ghul contacts her son over the comm. She tells Damian that Nezha is weakened, but his life force is the only thing keeping Batman alive. If Damian exorcizes Nezha, it may kill his father. Talia pleads for Damian to wait until she gets to his location.
Monkey Prince joins the fray, sending little monkeys to distract Nezha, which results in the Batmobile crashing and burning.
Robin and Monkey Prince make a break for it, and Monkey Prince informs Damian that the longer Nezha inhabits Batman’s body, the more powerful he’ll become. They need to get rid of him while he’s still weak. Robin tells the primate hero to stop talking, but Monkey Prince tells him that, according to Pigsy, Prince’s mentor, Robin must kill Batman to stop Nezha and take over the world.
Robin gives Monkey Prince orders and sends him on his way. Then, Damian reaches out to the Bat-Family. Much like in Batman vs Robin #3, Damian will have to throw the entire Bat-Family at Batman again.
Robin activates the Batsignal, and Batman is lured to the GCPD rooftops, where the Bat-Family engages him in combat. Everyone gangs up on Batman, but he stands his own. Monkey Prince arrives in a few moments, using his magic powers of duplication to create a bunch of Damian Wayne Robins that attack Batman.
Robin and his clone army beat Batman down, stalling for Pigsy to arrive. At the last second, Pigsy shows up with Zatanna and Enchantress, who are carrying Nezha’s body. Despite knowing that what he is willing to do may kill his father, Robin asks Zatanna and Enchantress to grab Nezha’s spirit from Batman’s body and put it back where it belongs.
Batman’s body is fading, and Robin demands that Zatanna and Enchantress transfer his soul into Batman’s body, thus saving his father’s life. But they can’t. Robin’s soul isn’t enough. They can’t take fragments either, not from Robin or the Bat-Family. There simply isn’t enough energy to keep Batman alive.
Robin contacts Oracle and asks her to patch him through to Gotham. Robin’s voice broadcasts all over the city, and he pleads with the citizens of Gotham. He asks that everyone give a small part of themselves, a small piece of their souls or life forces, so that Batman may live. He asks everyone to raise their fists and shout, “We are Batman.”
“We are Batman!” the citizens of Gotham shout.
Batman lives. Father and son hug. Nezha and King Fire Bull are defeated, and the world is saved. According to Damian, a lesson is learned by the world. There is no more formidable team than Batman and Robin.
Analysis: Batman vs. Robin #5 brings the Lazarus Planet mini event to a close, distilling the cataclysmic, global threat down to a story between father and son, between Bruce and Damian Wayne.
The heart is there. The sentiment is strong, and the few pages where citizens of Gotham City all raise their fists and shout, “We are Batman!” is so overwhelming it’s hard not to get caught up in the feels of this easy.
But Batman vs Robin #5 is just okay. Several loose ends linger as writer Mark Waid and artist Mahmud Asrar laser-focus on the dynamic duo. It’s not to say that this is the wrong choice, but after a few moments of meditation after the issue’s last few pages, many questions bubble to the surface. What happened to Nezha after he was imprisoned in his body? Where did King Fire Bull end up? Where did Talia go (she appeared for a blip and then just disappeared)?
There was a whole narrative earlier on in this miniseries where Batman reunited with the spirit of Alfred, and that just ended after it reached its emotional zenith. Was there no way to weave that generational father-son dynamic between Alfred, Batman, and Robin into this finale?
As big and overwhelming, and action-packed as this book became, the ending hits another emotional zenith and then ends. There’s no cooldown. There’s no final moment that eases us away from the world-ending terror of Devil Nezha and Lazarus Planet, especially after this story wove in threads from Damian’s solo series, Robin, and the first arc in Batman/Superman: World’s Finest. There’s just something missing. It’s as if all roads converged and left readers in the shadows.
Jordie Bellaire’s colors are stunning as always, and there are some truly big, fun moments in this issue, particularly the Batmobile chase earlier on. Asrar delivers some jaw-dropping, explosive panels that get the heart racing, and Monkey Prince is an underrated, newer character in the DC Universe. All this is to say that there are a lot of pieces to like in this finale, but it’s not the showstopper some may have anticipated.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.
Batman vs. Robin #5
Batman vs Robin #5 has some truly great, emotional moments, but it doesn’t quite stick the landing, ending this miniseries too abruptly.