Friday 1 March 2013

A Tribute to Damian Wayne aka Robin The Boy Wonder!!

***This post contains SPOILERS for Batman, Incorporated #8 (Volume 2).  It's already heavily spoiled in all manner of media, but forewarned!

So everyone knows about Batman and Robin, right?  Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson...the secret identities of the Dynamic Duo as they were originally created and as they were popularized via the Batman TV show, various movies and Batman: The Animated Series.

Some people may recall that in the 90's, Robin was killed by the Joker!

It was NOT Dick Grayson that died.  By that time, in the comic books, the original Boy Wonder had grown up, gone to college and began fighting crime on his own as Nightwing.  The Robin who died in the 90's was newcomer Jason Todd.  He had taken over as Robin, but sadly, couldn't quite make the cut...

The unfortunate Jason was replaced after some time passed by yet another, a young prodigy named Tim Drake who actually figured out Batman's secret identity!  Tim was worried about Batman after Jason died...the Dark Knight had become TOO dark.  He wanted Dick Grayson to return as Robin so that Batman would have someone to talk to, I guess...instead, of course, Tim eventually became Robin himself.  He even became famous enough to appear in season 4 of the Animated Series and in season 2 of another DC Superhero cartoon, Young Justice!

Fast forward several years to 2006 and Grant Morrison starts writing Batman.  One of the first stories he pens is called Batman and Son.  In this story, Batman learns that he has a secret 10 year old son named Damian Wayne!!  Damian was a genetically perfect test-tube baby conceived by Batman and Talia Al Ghul, daughter of the immortal Ra's Al Ghul, one of the Bat's worst foes.  Legend has it that originally young Damian was going to die heroically at the end of the 4-issue Batman and Son.

Then...he didn't.  Instead, he lingered on, appearing off and on in comics until 2008, when BATMAN "Died".  Bruce Wayne was killed by Darkseid (the DC Universe's version of the Devil, essentially) in a story called Final Crisis.

Well, with the original Batman, Bruce Wayne, "dead", (he was actually trapped in prehistory) new heroes had to rise to protect Gotham City from the assorted fearful and superstitious lot of psychopaths and fiends!  These heroes??  the All-New BATMAN AND ROBIN!

Damian "Robin" Wayne & Dick "Batman" Grayson

"Batman and Robin can NEVER die!!"  Proclaims Dick Grayson, as he becomes the new Batman!  His Robin?  Of course, his mentor's son...trained since birth by the League of Assassins, he turns his back on his mother's evil ways to embrace the values of his father...Damian Wayne!!!

Cue one of the best runs EVER in Comics, as Grant Morrison writes Batman and Robin starring Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne, and everything old is new again!  At first, Damian's an insufferable, arrogant little jerk whom everyone barely tolerates.  Tim Drake fans, in particular, were not too happy that Damian claimed the Robin identity (Tim became "Red Robin" and went off on his own, solo adventures).  Eventually though, the little guy (he's only 10, remember!) just proved too interesting to resist!  After 7 years of Damian, I find to my surprise that he's become just about my favourite character in comics!  Most definitely, my favourite Robin EVER.  Interestingly enough, the dynamic is very similar to the original Batman and Robin, simply in reverse!  Damian is a lot like his father...dark and brooding, whilst Dick's unsinkable optimism remains....creating a serious Robin and a jolly Batman!

Alas, all things must pass...Bruce eventually returns to reclaim the Cape and Cowl and create Batman, Incorporated...and Talia Al Ghul isn't content to let him keep their son to himself!  The clock starts winding down on young Damian once more...

This week, in Batman, Incorporated Volume 2 issue #8, after 7 years, the unthinkable happened.  Damian finally ran into a fight he can't win, and fufilled the destiny he was originally scheduled to face back in 2006.

I won't go into detail regarding his final moments...suffice to say, it served the story very well.  Regardless, I wish it hadn't happened.  Not just because Damian was my favourite Robin, but because who wants to read about a 10 year old kid dying?  Particularly Batman's own flesh-and-blood son?  I hear enough about children dying and parents grieving in the newspapers...I don't need it in a comic book, too.

Well, Jason Todd came back from beyond the grave all those years ago.  As a matter of fact, just about everyone who's ever died in comics eventually returns.  It's the nature of the medium.  Not only that, but there are still 4 issues left of Batman, Incorporated before Grant Morrison leaves the title and the Batman universe with issue #12!  Mr. Morrison is not generally known for being an angst-ridden, depressing writer, and maybe this death isn't what it seems, despite the media frenzy trying so hard to convince us of the sincerity of poor Damian's demise.  Only time will tell, but I trust Grant Morrison as a writer and expect his epic to conclude well! 

Regardless, this death happened, and it had an emotional impact on me.  I'll miss Damian and I'll be bummed to have to read about Bruce and Dick and Alfred and everyone being sad over the lad.  The only redeeming quality?  He did indeed die a hero.  Robin, the Boy Wonder...

R.I.P. Damian Wayne (September, 2006 - February 2013)
He was the best...No matter what anyone thinks.

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