Robin Dies at Dawn (Again)

BatmanINC

So I was going to talk about the new Shadow comic today but then DC did this so I have to talk about it instead.

To wit, Damian Wayne, the biological son of Bruce Wayne and the fourth and current Robin, was killed off in the most recent issue of Batman Incorporated. So why is this a big deal for Bat-fans? And who was Damien Wayne?

Well like I said, he is Batman’s kid, the lovechild of Bruce and Talia Al-Ghul, the daughter of Ra’s Al-Ghul, the guy played by Liam Neeson in Batman Begins.

Although acclaimed writer and noted crazy man Grant Morrison is credited with creating Damian, he technically didn’t. The story of Bruce and Talia having a kid was chronicled in the Mike W. Barr 1980s original graphic novel, Batman: Son of the Demon. However, that story ended with Talia, noticing that the prospect of fatherhood was turning Bruce into a wimp, faking a miscarriage and giving the baby up for adoption in secret. DC said the story took place on one of the other Earths in the Multiverse that was subsumed into one universe a few years later with Crisis On Infinite Earths and all was forgotten.

Fast forward to 2006: Morrison, a frontrunner in the 1980s British Invasion of comics, coming off of the vastly acclaimed, best-selling and award-winning All-Star Superman and a well-received X-Men run, is signed as the writer of the monthly Batman comic.

Morrison’s grand plan is to bring back all the crazy stuff of Batman’s history (multiple costumes, Bat-Mite, etc.) back into continuity and how does he start? By revealing that his supposedly dead child is alive, a super ninja raised by his mother and the League of Assassins (not Shadows as Nolan would have you believe), and a super jerky brat by having him show up at Wayne Manor in the Andy Kubert-illustrated Batman and Son storyline, which marks the beginning of Morrison’s 6+ year long Batman saga.

Damian is absent for the next part, The Black Glove, which has Batman team up with a bunch of international heroes and introduces the covert criminal organization the Black Glove, but returns for the next part, Batman R.I.P. This is where I started reading Batman, folks, and boy, what a weird trip to come in on.

In R.I.P., the Black Glove pulls all their strings and begins to psychologically torture Batman, culminating in him having a complete mental breakdown. This takes place alongside Morrison’s event miniseries Final Crisis, which has the DCU’s big bad, Darkseid, finally achieving his goal of unlocking the Anti-Life Equation, which allows him complete control of all sentient matter in the universe. Batman confronts him and, violating his core principles,shoots him with a Radon bullet-the only thing that could take down Darkseid-but the villain shoots Batman with his Omega Beam, seemingly killing him.

After the rather pointless Battle for the Cowl crossover ends with first Robin and current Nightwing Dick Grayson becoming the new Batman, Damian becomes the new Robin and they fight all sorts of weird bad guys in the new comic Batman and Robin, which had each three issues have a new storyline with a new artist.

One of the big reveals of this series is that Talia, seeing how Damien has chosen to become like his father, actually has cloned him. This will come back later so remember it.

While all this is going on, its revealed that Batman isn’t actually dead at all but was rather zapped back to the beginning of time, another effect of the Omega Beam. The miniseries Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne and the one shots The Road Home and The Return chronicle his journey through the timestream and his eventual return to stop the machinations of Simon Hurt, the head of the Black Glove.

After all that, Bruce Wayne announces to the world that he’s “supported” Batman for years and unveils Batman Incorporated, which is basically the UN of Batmen, enlisting a different vigilante from each country to operate under the cape and cowl.

While Bruce is doing all this, Damian stays in Gotham City and helps Dick out as Robin. The New 52 relaunch keeps this the same, but with Damian alongside his dad as Robin. At some point after the recent Death of the Family storyline, that clone Talia made of her son shows up and, after a fight, kills Damian.

So yeah that’s the life of Batman’s son in a nutshell. Not having read a lot of it, I’m not super familiar with Damian but what I have read I really like. For one thing, he’s just sarcastic and bitter, which could be grating, but sounds funny coming out of this 10-year old kid. Secondly, he’s just as hyper-competent as his father, really making him a Robin worthy of the Batman that Morrison writes: a guy who is one step ahead of everybody else.

With Batman and Robin, there was an appealing buddy-cop dynamic in the interaction between a stoic Damian and a talkative, loose Dick Grayson; you could tell that Morrison relished this subversion and it showed in his writing. The varied, but always exciting and dynamic, art of Frank Quitely, Cameron Stewart and others helped make that book feel like must-read material.

In the end, I think it was a good idea that Morrison was the one to kill off Damian. He created him, after all, and had written him more than anyone else. Furthermore, Morrison’s career in superhero comics has seen him make a remarkable amount of changes, only to have them immediately undone after he leaves (see New X-Men). So, in that respect, he was covering for himself.

One thing’s for sure: when Damian comes back, they’re going to have to do it rightly and properly, and really make us feel the emotion when Bruce reunites with his son. Here’s hoping.

Now, Warner Bros., where’s my DTV Batman and Son movie, huh?

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