This week from DC Comics, Damian Wayne takes an unscheduled break from the tournament of death to catch up with long lost family. In Robin 4, Damian meets his grandfather Ra’s Al Ghul. Damian initially thinks this is a bad turn of events, but what follows may just make the difference in the tournament. The one thing I am loving more than anything else, post Future State, is how the Gotham titles across the board are reaching back into their character galleries, reinvigorating and using old names long absent from recent stories. It’s been awhile since Ra’s surfaced, and Damian confronting the past could lead to bigger implications.

In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Spock uses an old phrase that oddly fits here. Spock tells Kirk “Only Nixon could go to China.” For those not up on the historical meaning, Nixon, the United States 37th President had to resign in disgrace after the Watergate scandal. He would later be the first American President to go to China in 1972, and his actions led to normalization of relations for the first time in 1979. What does this have to do with Damian? Simple. It could be said “Only Ra’s Al Ghul could get through to Damian.”

Ra’s Al Ghul has been many things over the decades since his first appearance in 1971. At times he embodies the demon and all that is evil. Sometimes he comes across as a Thanos type character. He means good for the world, but he uses mass murder to end evil and world stresses. There have even been a few times where he saved Batman’s bacon, so his means run the gambit as does his means at achieving them. Is this current ploy with Damian true family love, since he does value family, or does this serve a means to an end of yet another ploy.

Enter Ra’s Al Miyagi

Damian has always been a hot head. Bruce found it difficult to get through to him. The Bat-family, the Teen Titans, and even his mother failed to break through the walls Damian constructs. His heart is often in the right place, but his means often follow the ways of his grandfather – anything goes to achieve victory. Only his pet demon, Goliath, ever sees his softer side. Damian is arrogant, think headed and slow to listen to any advice, yet after the initial shock of meeting his grandfather wears off, Ra’s seems to know how to break through to Damian. Ra’s takes on a very Mr. Miyagi-type role form The Karate Kid. Ra’s teaches Damian how to quiet his mind, think about not only his moves, but his opponent’s moves, and to be wary of his Damian’s greatest enemy – himself.

I love the way this issue lays all this out. Damian never loses his stubbornness, yet he does give in and appears to learn from Ra’s. I especially love the way Ra’s uses the stars as kind of the ultimate lesson. Ultimately, Ra’s shows a pity for young Damian . “Your heart is full of too much rage. Too much for a child so young.” It feels heart felt, from a grandpa to his grandson, but then again this is Ra’s Al Ghul we are talking about. Robin pulls a “dad” move and disappears mid lecture, but instead of being cross, Ra’s shows a fatherly pride at how skillful Damian disappeared – without a trace. He even hints that Damian may grow larger than the shadow of any of his family. A “We shall watch your career with great interest” type moment.

Confronting the Past – The Trade and…the Other Past

Damian finds a mysterious deal going down. The League of Assassins trades Lazarus resin for some sort of mysterious book. That must be one priceless textbook to do that! The next phantom of the past shows up, and it’s quite literally, well, a phantom. The ghost of Alfred returns to Damian to warn him against what he is stumbling into. It seems Alfred’s ghost now symbolizes Damian’s conscience, yet with all the other weird stuff taking place, what if this actually is Alfred’s spirit talking? Weirder stuff has happened. The ghost advises him to call on his father before he gets in too deep with the League, but before he can respond he realizes he is about to have company.

Then Damian is forced into confronting his “other past”. I love the way the artists make you think the League got the drop on Damian, but it turns out to be “The Robins”. Yep plural. Every major character still active in Gotham who ever wore the “R” shows up to talk with Damian. Dick, Jason, Tim, and even Steph Brown (Spoiler), show up to talk to Damian and try and bring him home. Damian looks none too pleased.

I really love that they added Steph to this group. Her role as Robin often gets overlooked. Tim, however, confuses me. At one time Tim was nearly a man and went his own way as Red Robin. In the current story he seems like he should still be Robin even though Damian has held the role for awhile now. His outfit even looks 100% Robin. Either way I look forward to the conversation ahead. We know he won’t leave the tournament, but what words and feelings will be exchanged between Damian and the Robin crew?

What do you think about Robin 4 and him confronting the past? What conversation do we have to look forward too, and how will it affect both Damian and the Tournament? Will Ra’s resurface? Head on over to DC Fanatics and tell us what you think lies ahead.