Batman vs. Robin: Dealing with the Devil Nezha

To say the least, 2022 has been an eventful yr for Batman. There was the reconstruction of Batman, Inc., the Shadow War between Talia and Slade Wilson and who can overlook that he was killed in Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths. But Batman’s biggest problem of the yr remains to be but to return, when the extremely anticipated Batman vs. Robin checks him and his son in opposition to the satan himself…or one particular satan. Throughout the yr, a brand new powerhouse super-villain referred to as the Devil Nezha has been rising in status and formidability in the pages of a number of of DC’s titles—and with Batman vs. Robin, all that involves a head. Here’s what we all know up to now about the new Big Bad for the Dynamic Duo.

The Legend of Nezha

The origin of the Devil Nezha is instructed in Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #2, by Batman vs. Robin’s personal creator Mark Waid. But Waid based mostly his story on Chinese folklore about an ascendant deity of the identical identify. Nezha’s origins can truly be traced again 3600 years to the Shang Dynasty, the earliest Chinese dynasty identified to recorded historical past. In 1000’s of years of retelling, there have been many variations of the legend of Nezha. In Batman/Superman, Waid presents his personal account, as knowledgeable by many such legends instructed lengthy earlier than the idea of superheroes as we all know them at present was born.

Waid’s account of the legend of Nezha begins with a robust warlord, Li Jing, and his son Nezha, who inherited his father’s ambition for energy acquired by army would possibly. But when Nezha was slain in battle, Li Jing forfeited his kingdom to journey the world and pursue any technique of resurrecting his little one. Li Jing spent years humbling himself earlier than a robust wizard, who finally took pity on the fallen warlord and granted him an Elixir of Eternal Life. Li Jing used this elixir on his son, which not solely returned him to life, however granted him immortality. But upon witnessing the wretched creature his father had change into to resurrect him, Nezha slayed him in disgust.

Armed with immortality, Nezha reclaimed his father’s misplaced empire and expanded it ever additional, gathering mystical artifacts from each land he conquered to extend his personal energy. The Devil Nezha, as he had come to be identified, might properly have conquered the Earth, if not for the intervention of 5 mystic warriors from the House of Ji—one in all whom would sacrifice himself to seal Nezha away all the time in an inescapable crypt from the inside. Thus was the Devil Nezha defeated, and nobody ever needed to fear about him ever once more.

Just kidding. If that was true, we wouldn’t be right here proper now, would we?

The Lazarus Connection

So, you might recall we talked about an “Elixir of Eternal Life.” Isn’t there one thing like that in Batman tales, which retains an immortal enemy going for hundreds of years and sometimes restores lengthy misplaced enemies and allies alike?

If you haven’t figured it out by now, we’re speaking about the Lazarus Pits, most frequently utilized by Ra’s al Ghul. The 2019 Robin sequence presents us with a wealth of recent lore about the Lazarus Pits as Damian Wayne journeys to a event on Lazarus Island the place a “League of Lazarus” managed by Mother Soul—who seems to be Ra’s al Ghul’s personal mom and Damian’s great-grandmother—conspires to resurrect the “Lazarus Demon” which imbues the pits with their energy.

Damian and his allies be a part of forces to take the Lazarus Demon down, however in the finish, Mother Soul signifies that the true power behind the pits, a distinct satan completely, stays undiscovered. While the connection between the Lazarus Demon and Nezha stays nebulous, it’s little doubt one thing we’ll see additional developed in Batman vs. Robin…particularly contemplating how the lately concluded Robin sequence ends. We’ll get to that in only a second.

The World’s Finest

Let’s lower from 3600 BC to…not fairly the current day, however years earlier. Back in the prime of Batman and Superman’s careers, when Bruce nonetheless labored alongside Dick Grayson as his first and solely Robin. Such is the setting for Waid’s Superman/Batman: World’s Finest, an ongoing love letter to comedian ages previous.

The first Superman/Batman story arc options the return of Nezha, whose energy to dominate the minds of whoever he chooses units Superman and Batman in battle with the world’s heroes and villains. With the assist of Robin, Supergirl, the Doom Patrol and a few intelligent utility of a Phantom Zone projector, the World’s Finest handle to reseal Nezha in his tomb all the time. And this time…

No, we nonetheless don’t imply it. That tomb is getting opened yet one more time.

All proper, now we will lower to the current day to a scene teased at the finish of this World’s Finest story, and the finish of Robin as properly. Damian Wayne initially got here to Lazarus Island with a goal in thoughts. Like the warlord Li Jing earlier than him, the son of Batman has made it his mission to revive the lifetime of a liked one: the stalwart Alfred Pennyworth. That expedition to Lazarus Island gave him the prize he sought to resurrect his surrogate father, however he finally selected to not use it.

And but, right here we discover Damian as soon as extra, unsealing the tomb of Nezha. Has Damian had a change of coronary heart? Is Nezha the key to returning Alfred’s sardonic wit and unconditional help and like to Wayne Manor? And is the Devil’s propensity for possession accountable for the “versus” in Batman vs. Robin? All the solutions await us at present, as Batman vs. Robin #1 hits outlets. It’s the crescendo of a legend that was 3600 years in the making.

Batman vs. Robin #1 by Mark Waid, Mahmud Asrar and Jordie Bellaire is now obtainable in print and as a digital comedian e-book.

Alex Jaffe is the creator of our month-to-month “Ask the Question” column and writes about TV, films, comics and superhero historical past for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and discover him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.

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