Damian Wayne had a busy year. He participated in the League of Lazarus's Death Match, led a team of C-listers to stop the Dark Army, and then decided to destroy his own father, though there's a teensy bit of possession to blame for that. Now, Damian's got to step up and be the leader Batman can't be, against a threat that even the Dark Knight has never faced.
Lazarus Planet Alpha is written by Mark Waid, drawn by Riccardo Federici, colored by Brad Anderson, and lettered by Steve Wands. It picks up right after the events of Batman Vs. Robin #4, which saw Batman killed (don't worry) and resurrected by the Lazarus Resin in the Tomb of the Devil Nezha, AKA Lazarus Island, which we first saw in Robin's ongoing series.(opens in new tab)
As the Lazarus Resin erupts into a worldwide magical storm, Robin escapes the island with Batman, Talia Al Ghul, and Black Alice. If you're not familiar with that last name, don't worry; Black Alice is a small piece on the DC chessboard, but her ability to siphon magic made her a pawn in Nezha's scheme, and a necessary ally if the Lazarus Storm is to be neutralized.
Robin sends out a distress signal, to which a varied host of DC heroes respond. In front of the Hall of Justice, Robin informs them of what he's encountered on Lazarus Island. Zatanna, one of the heroes to appear, finishes Robin's story for him, telling the assembled lot that the Lazarus Storm is rewriting the rules of both magic and science all across the world.
Of course, the heroes' natural instincts are to look to Batman for a plan. But as we mentioned before, Bruce is recovering from a little case of being dead, with Lazarus energy still coursing through his veins, so he appoints Damian as lead. Without missing a beat, the Boy Wonder breaks up the assembled heroes into two teams, each with a suicidal mission.
The first team consists of Shazam, Power Girl, Zatanna, Cyborg, and Blue Beetle, who are sent to one of the most important magical spaces in the DCU, the Tower of Fate. There, they will attempt to retrieve magical artifacts that Nezha drained of power, empty vessels which Robin believes Black Alice can refill using the excess magic of the Lazarus Storm.(opens in new tab)
Amidst every catastrophe the Storm is causing, the Devil Nezha is still roaming free, so Damian sends his next team after the ancient warlord. To this mission, he assigns the poisoned Batman, Talia, Supergirl, and magical hero Blue Devil. They travel to the Himalayas, where they hope to either take down Nezha or, if they can, turn him into an ally against the Storm and the far greater magical villain that's on his way: King Fire Bull.
Only one of the heroes that showed up at the Hall of Justice doesn't get an assignment: the Monkey Prince. Untrusted by Damian, this DC newcomer stays behind and gets a chance to speak with the abused Black Alice. Up until now, none of the heroes have been able to get the traumatized magic user to speak, but after Monkey Prince offers her a chance, she opens up.
Meanwhile, a battle rages between the Tower of Fate team and Silver Horn King, a henchman of King Fire Bull. The demon unleashes an army of magic wolves which, because of either the effect of the Lazarus Storm on their powers or the demon's own power, the heroes cannot contain. Added to this, the Tower of Fate appears to be completely impenetrable.
Another servant of King Fire Bull's is waiting for the Himalayan team, a demon called Gold Horn King. Much like our heroes, Gold Horn has been sent by his master to retrieve Nezha, albeit with less heroic intent. Relying on fear-based powers rather than the wolves of his fellow lackey, Gold Horn King holds his own against the entire team, blocking access to Nezha.(opens in new tab)
Things are going pretty poorly for the Himalayan team until Supergirl shakes off her fear, confronting Gold Horn King directly and burying him in an avalanche. Similarly, fellow Kryptonian Power Girl has separated Silver Horn King from his wolves by flying him into space, shaking his control, and allowing the heroes access to the Tower of Fate.
With a bolt of the Wizard Shazam's own lightning, his namesake makes an opening in the Tower for her teammates. There, they find not only artifacts of great power, but their wielders as well. Magical DC heroes such as Phantom Stranger, Ragman, and Doctor Occult are free to help with the Lazarus effects now, giving our heroes, in Zatanna's words, "A fighting chance."(opens in new tab)
Meanwhile, the Himalayan team has located and restrained the Devil Nezha, but not without help from Swamp Thing and Poison Ivy. Sensing a disturbance in the Green, Ivy and Swamp Thing have also located the villain, who lies defeated on the floor of an ancient temple. And yet, the spirit of the demon is not destroyed. Extending his malicious will out from his physical form, Nezha takes possession of the closest person he can find resonating with Lazarus energy… Batman.
And what about our fearless leader? Where's master strategist Robin in all this chaos? Well, before sending the two teams out, Damian Wayne declared he'd stay behind and wait for any other heroes to show up in response to his distress call. To his credit, Damian was right to expect that someone with great power would be showing up to the Hall of Justice.
Unfortunately, he probably didn't count on it being King Fire Bull himself.
For more hints at what's to come from DC's Lazarus Planet event, check out Newsarama's list of the four Lazarus Specials headed to stores January 2023.