For nearly the entirety of his crime-fighting career, Batman has relied on a variety of allies and mentored a great many protégé as the Dark Knight patrolling Gotham. But none other are as popular or long-lasting as his young side-kick, Robin. The first in the long line of successive costumed cohorts was Dick Grayson, the young circus acrobat left orphaned after a high trapeze act runs afoul. After Dick grows up and assumes the mantle of “Nightwing”, the next in line to don the yellow cape would be the irritable Jason Todd. A tad too precocious for some and downright annoying to most, Todd would eventually be voted to death by DC fans when the company left it up to them to dial a 900-number to seal his fate. After the first two Robins, the next to slip on the green pixie boots would be a youthful Tim Drake, a wunderkind detective, so attentive to detail he is able to deduce Batman is really billionaire Bruce Wayne. After Tim trots off from the Bat Cave to take on the moniker of “Red Robin”, the vacancy is briefly filled by Stephanie Brown until the unthinkable happens. Batman has a son. And not just any son with any woman, but with Talia Al-Ghul, the daughter of arch-rival Ra’s Al-Ghul. Unbeknownst to Batman, the son – named Damian – was raised to be the greatest killer in the history of the world. When Batman is lost in time, Damian takes on the role of Robin under former Boy Wonder Dick Grayson putting on the cape and cowl as Batman. Then, Bruce Wayne returns, reassumes the Batman role and teams up with his son Damian. They battle Talia and her henchmen before Damian succumbs to his wounds. Batman’s son Damian is dead.
Or is he?
Adam Kubert’s new mini-series, “Damian: Son of Batman” dropped issue number one this week, and in it we get a glimpse of a time “some years from now” that sees an older Damian still wearing the yellow hood as Robin with father Batman looking into a grizzly murder scene. Death, according to Damian, is something he can deal with, as he claims to have intimate experience with. Is this a reference to Damian being resurrected in current continuity after meeting his end at the end of a blade?
A great amount of joy in the issue emanates from hearing Damian crack wise about mistaking an ugly dead corpse with Tim Drake, while knee-deep in human and fish remains, and with the parental Batman quipping, “focus on the mission, young man!”, this issue starts in familiar father-son nostalgia territory. This fun is shattered when Batman seemingly accidentally triggers a bomb that shreds his torso. In a mirror scene of Damian’s death, it is a mangled Batman in Robin’s arms as he cries out.
We see Batman’s funeral, a sombre affair with Damian blaming himself for his father’s untimely passing. Damian decides to seek out his other parent, Talia, and in doing so apparently takes this series out of continuity as not only is Damian alive but so is mother Talia, who was thought to have been murdered in the new 52.
Talia and Ra’s Al-Ghul are shocked the see him, and after Damian asks for their assistance they go through a nice crash course of Damian’s history and how leaving them to become Robin was a treacherous act and they will not help him. Instead, they tell Damian he must uphold the proud Batman lineage and become the Dark Knight. Damian thinks they’re crazy and exits.
Damian then puts his detective skills to work to try to uncover who murdered his father with the bomb. The fact that seemingly everyone was claiming responsibility for it only made Damian’s efforts more intense. Robin begins seeking out anyone claiming to have done the deed, but instead of administering justice, Damian exercises vengeance. Damian boils Mr. Freeze alive, brutally muzzles Killer Croc, and sending Jackanapes out a high-rise window.
Damian seeks out guidance at a church, where an unknown but familiar mustached older man hears his pleas and tells him Batman’s business methods were honest. Damian claims so are his methods, with the added benefit of “closure”. Robin claims his methods are superior to Batman’s because the “scum can’t return” with his.
Damian tries to return to normal life at Wayne Manor, but even Alfred won’t go back to Damian’s usual clever banter, holding him to account for his premeditated murders, as his father would, Alfred says. Damian will hear none of it and storms out prepping in the Cave to go hunt down another victim, but a shout startles him and Damian turns around to find his father, asking what he thinks he’s doing?!
This article was first posted on November 1, 2013