Martian Manhunter and Doomsday mash-up in DC "Lazarus Planet" teasers

Lazarus Planet teaser
Lazarus Planet teaser (Image credit: DC)

Update: DC has upped the ante on what appears to be more than just a teaser for the end of the current Batman vs. Robin limited series. 

Last month just minutes after DC released its December 2022 solicitations and along with them the issue description and covers to that month's Batman vs. Robin #4, the publisher released an 'explosive' image (see what we did there?) that it didn't include in its solicits.

DC promised the fight between Bruce and Damian will rock the DCU to its core, "as the Earth enters into the Lazarus Planet…"

December's Batman vs. Robin #4 is the penultimate issue of the five-issue limited series written by Mark Waid, drawn by Mahmud Asrar, colored by Jordie Bellaire, and lettered by Steve Wands.

Now, on October 5 and 6, the publisher has released a new version of the image along with a series of what they label "DC_Event_Teasers", this time with the additional copy "Heroes Transformed. Secrets Revealed. Powers Unleashed." It's also promising more information Thursday, October 6 at 1:45 pm ET at its New York Comic Con (NYCC) panel "Explore the Multiverse."

Check out three teasers below:

So it appears confirmed what DC is teasing is more than just the conclusion of Batman vs. Robin in January. 

Teasers Newsarama readers get to see first are what's apparently a hybrid of Martain Manhunter and Doomsday (yikes) and the Monkey Prince in what would be his first significant involvement in a DCU event series.

DC has teased a new future for the DCU (and editorial era), which we know is called Dawn of the DCU - and Batman and Robin's final battle at Lazarus Island will apparently make an impact on what's to come. DC's description of Batman vs. Robin #4 reveals that Lazarus Island isn't an island at all - it's a volcano, and it's about to explode.

That doesn't sound so good. And for some reason, the green lava is forming Superman's symbol.

Since the seeds of Batman vs. Robin were planted in Waid's Batman/Superman: World's Finest ongoing series, it was somewhat inevitable the Man of Steel would play a role in this series, but now it seems even bigger than just the inclusion of Superman. 

Batman vs. Robin #4 (Image credit: DC)

The main cover art for Batman vs. Robin #4 shows father and son tearing each other apart as the devil Nezha rises above rubble behind them, and to make things even more interesting, Batman is wearing the Helmet of Fate, which seems to corroborate the new "Heroes transformed" teaser copy. 

It's unclear how or when Bruce Wayne will acquire the helm of Doctor Fate, but in Batman vs. Robin #1, which went on sale September 13, a dying Zatanna gives Bruce the key to a secret location where he can find what he needs to defeat the magic-wielding Damian and his demonic al Ghul ancestors.

As of now, whatever Damian, Mother Soul, and the devil Nezha are doing, it's corrupted magic itself in the DCU and put every magic user in painful limbo states which could ultimately prove fatal. Other weird things are happening too, like the possible resurrection of Alfred Pennyworth.

Whatever happens next, it seems likely it will factor into how the DCU is remade following the current Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths event and DC seems poised to begin revealing what that is on October 6.

Original story follows...

That's Batman vs. Robin ... not Batman and Robin.

Writer Mark Waid's DC renaissance continues this September when he and artist Mahmud Asrar and colorist Nathan Fairbairn team for a five-issue limited series titled Batman vs. Robin.

The first issue will feature a cover by and variant covers by Jason Fabok, Alexander Lozano, Joshua Middleton, Steve Beach, Lucio Parrillo, Bryan Hitch, and Dave Rapoza, which can all be seen below.  

Batman vs. Robin, along with the new Tim Drake: Robin series, appears to have taken the place of the ongoing Robin series starring Damian Wayne, which is not soliciting a new issue in September, which also follows writer Joshua Williamson's exit from that series with August's Robin #17.

The series (which will feature oversized issues) sees the always fraught relationship between Bruce Wayne and his son Damian bubble over into a full-blown conflict. DC is calling it an "epic battle of icons years in the making!"

Batman vs. Robin #1 cover (Image credit: DC)

For his part, Asrar described the series as an "event" to "shake things up for Bruce’s world," on his Instagram page.

The series spins out of the events of Waid's Batman/Superman: World's Finest and the current 'Shadow War' Batman-Robin-Deathstroke, Inc. crossover by writer Joshua Williamson. 

"Deep in the heart of Lazarus Island, the demonic legacy of the al Ghul family line has at last been freed, and the Devil Nezha is out for blood," reads DC's description of Batman vs. Robin.

In a bid to reclaim total domination over Earth, Nezha 'supercharges' magic and anyone who uses it gets overtaken by a demonic evil that "super-charges" their magical abilities to dangerous, unpredictable, and even deadly levels.

Damian falls into Nezha's clutches and Bruce is haunted by the return of an old friend while the father and son are pitted against one another. 

Nezha is the main villain of the first World's Finest arc. 

"...the first arc of World's Finest is, was, and always has been, designed deliberately to lead into what is going to be Batman vs. Robin," the writer told Popverse. "What I was trying to do with Batman versus Robin was try to take them into a realm that I'm not used to seeing them in, which is dark magic sorcery, rather than science, rather than logic and detective stuff. We've seen Batman and sort of peripheral magic, but I want to get into the down and dirty of it."

World's Finest, for readers not yet familiar, is a series with Silver Age sensibilities set in the past when Dick Grayson was still Robin (though towards the end of his tenure, trying on long pants for the first time) and in Newsarama's eyes, Robin is the star of the fun and funky series.

It appears Batman vs. Robin is also the fall major DCU fall event referenced in May 17's Shadow War Zone #1 anthology. 

The story 'Inner Demon' by writer Nadia Shammas and artist Sweeney Boo flashes back to the younger years of Robin's mother Talia al Ghul. Frustrated over secrets her father Ra's al Ghul hides from her, young Talia makes a secret pilgrimage to Lazarus Island. There she meets her grandmother who reveals that Talia has a stronger connection to the Lazarus Pit, setting the stage for what DC calls a "major DCU event this Fall."

Nezha is mentioned in the modern DCU for the first time in May 24's Deathstroke Inc. #9, part of the 'Shadow War' crossover. which partially explains the timing of the Batman vs. Robin reveal. 

In the story, Talia tells her grandmother Mother Soul that Ra's is dead. She responds by saying "I knew it. The prophecy is coming to pass." Adding "The true Demon will return. Nezha will rise!"

And apparently, he will. 

Waid also told Popverse that Batman vs. Robin isn't the only spin-off from World's Finest in the works. According to the writer, World's Finest's second story arc will also start in September and will also cross over with another new but unnamed limited series. 

"They're two separate things," Waid says. "What the second arc is leading into is not on the radar yet… I can't hardly say anything, but there's something in that second arc that the payoff is, 'Oh! I didn’t realize that the payoff is part of something that I've known for a long time.'"

Batman vs. Robin #1 variant cover by Jason Fabok (Image credit: DC)

Given Batman vs. Robin begins in September, Newsarama also can't help but think of the fact the Robin ongoing series will be getting a new writer that same month, as current writer Joshua Williamson just announced this departure from the series after August's Robin #17 which sets Damian up in what DC calls a "shocking new storyline that will test his role as Robin and his place in the DCU!"

With this "shocking" new storyline and the absence of a known writer for the Robin ongoing series beginning in September, could Waid's Batman vs. Robin be related in any way?

Eagled-eyed readers might have already noticed DC teased the existence of Batman vs Robin in plain sight for some time. In August it's offering the trade paperback collection Batman vs. Robin: Road to War, a collection of Batman and Damian-centric stories, including stories from Teen Titans #43-44, Teen Titans Annual #2, Detective Comics #1032-1033, and a "two-part backup feature that sets the stage for a new chapter in the life of Damian Wayne" originally published in Batman #106 and Detective Comics #1034.

"A storm is coming…and a battle years in the making between Bruce Wayne and Damian Wayne is on the horizon," reads DC's description of the collection.

Neither Waid nor Asrar used the word "war" to describe the conflict at the heart of Batman vs. Robin, but Batman vs. Robin: Road to War is almost certainly connected to the new series.

Here's a gallery of all those variant covers:

Dick and Damian of course figure very prominently in Newsarama’s list of the best Robins of all time.

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.