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Robin’s New Foe Makes the Deadpool/Deathstroke Connection Even Weirder


Robin’s new tournament opponent ReSpawn seems set to complicate the already weird relationship between DC’s Deathstroke and Marvel’s Deadpool.

Warning: contains spoilers for Robin #1!

Robin is about to enter the League of Lazarus’ fighting tournament, and one of the combatants he will face seems set to further confuse the legacies of DC’s Deathstroke and Marvel’s Deadpool! The first issue of Robin’s new ongoing solo book finds the former Boy Wonder in a no-holds barred fighting tournament – and he will be facing some serious contenders.

Over the past few months, Robin (aka Damian Wayne) has left the Teen Titans as well as cut ties with Batman, his father. Robin has recently learned of the existence of the League of Lazarus, a group similar to the League of Assassins. The League of Lazarus is holding a fighting tournament, and in order to infiltrate the organization and learn their secrets, Robin decides to enter the tournament. Of course, the Son of Batman doesn’t do anything halfway, so Damian also intends to win the clash of DC’s greatest martial artists.

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Upon arrival, Damian is greeted by several other contestants, including Ravager, who recognizes Robin, though he gives her the cold shoulder. He then meets a person calling themselves ReSpawn, a character clearly intended to be inspired by DC villain Deathstroke, but with a healthy helping of Deadpool thrown in at the same time. Robin cracks a joke about “copyright infringement” but ReSpawn is unfazed, saying he will be the reason Robin regrets coming to the tournament.

Robin’s comment about “copyright infringement” may seem flippant at first, but it’s an idea with a lot of history behind it. Fans have long suspected that Marvel’s Deadpool (aka Wade Wilson) began life as a conscious rip-off of DC’s Deathstroke (aka Slade Wilson.) Commonalities in equipment, costumes, and names abound, though Deadpool’s extra element of meta-textual humor has since set him apart from DC’s more grim and gritty killer, launching him into mainstream popularity that eclipses that of his (maybe) inspiration.

ReSpawn hasn’t had much time to shine yet, but with his name being a pop-culture reference that seems to speak to some kind of resurrection power, the character already brings Deadpool’s humor and healing factor to mind as much as Deathstroke himself, creating a strange situation where a character who seems to be deliberately ripping off Deathstroke also seems to draw on another character many also see as a Deathstroke rip-off (albeit one who grew more distinct over time.) In ReSpawn, it feels like Deadpool and Deathstroke’s legacies are mixing, creating an unholy grandson who the comic goes out of its way to acknowledge as someone trading on a predecessor’s reputation.

It will be fascinating to see how a character apparently drawing on such a complex legacy is used to comment on both or either characters, and how his “copyright infringement” affects his depiction in upcoming issues. Part of the fun of the tournament so far has been seeing the cool adversaries Robin will face (with the first issue focusing on Flatline, who tears out Damian’s heart near issue’s end.) Hopefully, the Son of Batman will last long enough to give readers more insight into who ReSpawn is, and what other similarities he might share with Deadpool and Deathstroke.

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