*Spoilers for Batman Inc. #8* Quick note, this was Nicole’s reaction this post.
Last week Batman Inc. #8 by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham was released and with it the death of Morrison’s creation from the beginning of his Batman run, Damian Wayne. I had planned to write this last week but both comic shops I went were sold out by the time I stopped by so after picking it up this week, here is how Damian became my favourite Boy Wonder.
Spoiled. Obnoxious. Condescending. These were my first impressions when introduced to Damian Wayne nearly seven years ago. The son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul. A by product of a lust filled night between the World’s Greatest Detective and daughter of the Demon’s Head. Damian Wayne was kept a secret from his father. He was genetically perfected and grown in an artificial womb. From birth he was trained by the League of Assassins for one purpose: rule the world. To be fair, if I was genetically perfect, raised by some of the smartest and dangerous people and told from as early as I remember that the world is mine to own, I would not have handled it well. Simply put, I would have been a bigger dick than Damian when first introduced. Not saying his sense of entitlement was okay, but it was understandable. Boy, was he entitled. Ten years old and he believes himself superior to his father. He was less than accepting of his “brothers” and believed himself the one and true Robin. To be honest, I did not mind the brashness, the boulder sized chip on his shoulder but at the same time I said to myself, “This better change or I might pray that Bruce strangles him Homer style.”
One of the biggest reasons why I warmed up to Damian was the fact that Bruce was gone and instead he interacted with the first Boy Wonder, Dick Grayson. Dick is my favourite character that’s not named Batman, Superman, or Spider-Man, but I do not see him as Robin rather his own hero outside of Batman’s shadow. The dynamic worked for marvelous for Damian’s character because Dick’s people skills are about twenty-five thousand steps ahead of Bruce’s. Dick was a more lighthearted Batman, more easy going, which played off of Damian’s bluntness perfectly. Always one to be clear cut, no room for sarcasm because he was always serious. He sometimes acts as a fifty year old man stuck in a ten year old’s body. He wants to be taken seriously not just as a sidekick but as an equal to his father.
At his core Damian is a kid, albeit it a proud kid, on the Hero’s Journey. He wants to find his place in the world. To break away from the expectations of his mother and become his own man. I think that one of his strongest character traits, he does not seek redemption from his past, or run away from one parent to the other but instead wants to bring his dysfunctional family together. He forces Bruce to grow up, to accept his shortcomings as a family man and father figure, not only with Damian but with his past wards as well. Batman always needs a Robin and while each has taught him a different lesson, Damian is a constant reminder that no matter what he will never be alone.
My favourite Damian story is not from Morrison’s run (this is my favourite thing involving Damian) or Peter Tomasi‘s run on Batman and Robin but a story from Batgirl from Bryan Q. Miller‘s run. The interplay between Stephanie Brown and Damian is priceless. They bicker like two siblings. The surefire younger brother against the steady handed and keen older sister. The last page, never fails to make me smile. It is one of my favourite stories involving Damian because it sheds his exterior away and reminds us that he is only a kid who is not sure if he is allowed to have fun. He simply needs a reminder that the answer is, “Yes.”
When you get to know Damian, the entitlement, the bluntness, and condescending comments are a defense mechanism. He is acting how he thinks a future ruler of the world should act. He is trying to play grown up, always trying to prove that he is the toughest/smartest/coolest guy in the room. We all know that when you try too hard it never works, you just comes across as desperate. That’s the point of Robin, we can never be Batman, he is our dad, always cool, calm, and knows what to do. However, we can be his sidekick. He is the character we can relate to, we act tough, Batman is tough. Damian struggles interacting with other members in the Bat-Family because he is trying to figure out his place, just like we do in any social situation. Batman is the leader, this is never questioned. Yes, Robin does amazing things, we can too, and just like Robin our insecurities might not show but they are there. Batman does not have them because he is fully realized.
A week before Batman Inc. #8 was released it was spoiled that Damian was going to die. I am sure like many others I was unhappy with this action. Damian had grown on me and although I did not enjoy his dynamic with Bruce as much as I did with him and Dick, their relationship was growing. They began to trust each other and build a chemistry. For Damian to die now it cut this development short. Even with the spoilers, I still was going to pick the issue up. Morrison is my favourite comic book writer and I have been following his run since he began it. My favourite page of the issue is the last talk Damian and Dick have. It was great to see them back together again one last time.
I know death in comics is never permanent after Superman died. However, it is still sad to see a character you follow and grew to love go. Damian is the kid in all of us who wants to make our parents proud, to be the coolest and baddest kid on the block, and who tries way too hard, only unlike us he actually gets to be Robin. The Boy Wonder, that’s what he is. Who he was born to be.
It’s Like I Have ESPN or Something – Nicole
Is Batman dating anyone? I think Veronica would be a good match. Like, after Archie marries Betty, obviously.