Batman has experienced a life changing event, and Gotham City will never be the same. But wait, didn’t that happen just a few weeks ago?
Damian Wayne, the fourth Robin and biological son of Batman, has died. The news came as a surprise, as the Death Of The Family crossover event just ended weeks ago. After The Joker was once again defeated by the Dark Knight, it seemed as if Gotham City might actually be safe for a time. That sense of security seems to have been false though, as DC Comics broke news of Damian’s death days before the comic was even released. Most unexpectedly is that the event took place not in Batman or Detective comics, not even Batman and Robin, but in Batman Incorporated; the Batman book with the lowest sales figures and fewest readers.
The death has reportedly been a long time coming, certainly longer than the 8 issues of Batman Incorporated. Issue 8 is the culmination of everything that Grant Morrison has written in his run on Batman since 2006, the final realization of what he has been trying to achieve for years, indeed the reason that Damian Wayne was created in the first place. The problem is that the majority of that run came before the New 52 reboot, yet Morrison writes Incorporated as if the reboot never happened. The characters and their relationships are written differently from the other books in the series and Batman seems older and angrier than he does anywhere else in the reboot.
Unlike the other bat-books, Inc. has been charting its own course, not even mentioning the events of The Court Of Owls or Death Of The Family. There is a disconnect between Batman Inc. and it’s contemporaries, as if they take place in a different continuity entirely.
So if Morrison’s book has not been effected by the devastating events of the others, why do the events of Batman incorporated grind everything else to a halt? It brings inconsistency to a world whose creators have worked to instill a sense of conformity. Damian’s death was certainly dramatic, as were the events that lead up to it, but those events do not make sense with the rest of the Gotham comics. The siege of the city by Leviathan, the enemy organization in Batman Incorporated responsible for the Boy Wonder’s demise, could easily have been it’s own arc involving the whole line much as the previous Batman crossover events have. The way things played out though, it was as if The Joker was wreaking havoc concurrently with Gotham’s invasion and Batman was two places at once. Those who do not read Batman Incorporated (and I suppose, live under a rock and somehow avoided the news) will open issue 18 of Batman and the other Bat-Family series to find Robin as a casualty of a war that they did not even know was happening.
The real problem with the issue though, is not so much content as it is timing. The Death Of The Family came to it’s amazing close not 3 weeks ago, but so much of what happened in it has been undermined by Batman Incorporated. The Death Of The Family was most notable for its subtlety, it’s “death” being metaphorical rather than explosive and literal. Yet just weeks later, the big news breaking death has happened in another Batman publication. It is as if the readers cried out for blood when there was none to be had from Scott Snyder, and received it from Grant Morrison instead.
The point of Snyder’s recent arc was that it “killed” the family, breaking their ties and destroying their trust. If anything were to bring them back together, the death of their youngest brother should be it. Had this event taken place months down the line, giving the family more than one issue to grow apart and evolve as characters, then both DOTF and the death of Damian Wayne would have meant so much more. As it stands, we are left feeling as if we missed something.
Death Of The Family has been one of the greatest Batman arcs in a long time, and Damian Wayne being murdered is a massively important event. Both deserve time in the spotlight, yet for some reason they got shoved into the same month. We may never know exactly why that baffling decision was made. For now, we are left to try to gather our bearings and move on to see what happens to Gotham City. In the month of March, every issue will bear a “Requiem” seal as each member of the family deals with their loss.
So where do we go from here? How will Damian’s family deal with the loss? What will happen to the Batman and Robin book now that Batman has no Robin? Leave your thoughts and speculations in the comments below.
This article was first posted on March 5, 2013