Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Batman vs. Robin #4 Review

Written by: Mark Waid

Art by:Mahmud Asrar, Scott Godlewski
Colors by: Jordie Bellaire
Letters by: Steve Wands
Cover art by:Mahmud Asrar, Nathan Fairbairn
Cover price: $5.99
Release date: December 20, 2022

Batman vs. Robin #4 concludes the conflict between father and son with a no-holds-barred battle in the caverns of Lazarus Island. Who will be the last Wayne standing, and where do we go from here?

Is It Good?

Yes, Batman vs. Robin #4 is outstanding, but not for the typical reasons you might think. Batman vs. Robin #4 works because Waid and the art team do an impressive job setting up the first big DC event of 2023 (Lazarus Planet) with a tight, dramatic showdown against the Demon Nezha and his allies. In other words, the setup is good enough to stand on its own as an excellent Batman adventure, so using an already-excellent story as the lead-in to a big event is icing on the cake and cause for excitement.

When last we left the Caped Crusader, he endured the Gauntlet of Robins, coming out of it with a battered body and a fair amount of emotional baggage. Batman's final test awaits him in the caves beneath Lazarus Island, and Damian is ready to be a harsh teacher. Before the issue is done, spells will be cast, allies will die, and Lazarus Island will get the most significant case of acid reflux the world has ever seen.

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The issue is minor if you look at the players and the scope of the action. Most pages involve a hand-to-hand fight between Bruce and Damian, but the plot feels big because the stakes are immense. The lesson for aspiring comics writers should be clear - you don't need significant action to create big stakes.

Waid pulls out all the stops rattling off a litany of martial arts fight styles, moves, and techniques to infuse the fight with authenticity. I have no idea if the names of those fighting styles and moves are presented accurately, so on that count, Waid is faking it well enough to sell it.

Better still, the outcome of the fight is unpredictable. Nezha gets involved, the Helm of Fate plays a factor, and the events from the currently-running Monkey Prince series play a huge part in the outcome via King Fire Bull. Why did DC decide to make the events of the Monkey Prince series (a mediocre run that pales compared to this series) an important factor? Who knows, but here we are.

How's the art? It's terrific. Asrar (notable for outstanding work on Marvel's recent King Conan series) and Godlewski deliver powerful lines with dramatic shadows. The fight is raw, gritty, and painful. When the magic portion of the fight kicks in, the surreal imagery rivals the action you'd find in a Dr. Strange comic, elevated further by Bellaire's excellent coloring. This comic looks as great as it reads.

About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.

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Bits and Pieces:

Batman vs. Robin #4 is a cataclysmic battle between father and son underneath Lazarus Island, just in time to kick of 2023's Lazarus Planet event. The brutal hand-to-hand action is fierce, and the outcome feels essential.


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