It's just months since Grant Morrison killed off the latest Robin, Damian Wayne, in the pages of Batman: Incorporated. Wayne was an artificially aged clone birth from Talia al Ghul from Batman's DNA, in essence a son he never particularly wanted. Trained to be a master assassin by the age of ten, he eventually assumes the role of Robin where he excels.
Most people weren't really keen on the mouthy and somewhat bratty character upon first introduction, but for me and I suspect a lot of fans Damian grew into an extremely enjoyable character. He actually was able to achieve a kind of edgy brilliance, backed up with his considerable skill. Being always able to hold his own, he was no longer the Batman bait that so many of his predecessors were. When Damian finally fell in battle with his own mutated clone, The Heretic, it was devastating for his father.
Lately, he's been trying to find a way to resurrect Damian, and even though it means I'm rooting for the continued non-existence of a child and the endless grief of his father, I really, really hope Damian manages to stay dead. Permanently if possible.
Rocks Off Gothic Council: Is Batman Goth?
He wouldn't be the first Robin to return from the dead, of course. Jason Todd managed to come back to life after Joker beat him to death with a crowbar then left his body in an explosion-filled building. That was A Death in the Family, and it remains one of the most legendary of Batman stories.
Yet here he is now, alive and well. First he adopted Joker's previous criminal identity of Red Hood, and waged a war of vengeance against Batman for not killing Joker over his murder. These days he, along with Arsenal and Starfire, are my favorite monthly book in Red Hood and the Outlaws. Being killed was the absolute best thing for him.
Alive, he was cocky and unlikable, much as Damian started out but without the good writing so people quickly began to wish for his demise. Being dead managed to channel all that rage and angst into a more mature and powerful figure that is still on the outskirts of what his former mentor would consider proper crime-fighting, but lends him edge and verve enough to keep his adventures the best in the current DC Universe.
On a similar note, take Captain America's sidekick Bucky, who was also considered one of those figures that no one would dare erase the death of. Turns out that after World War II he ended up in Soviet espionage experiments that left in with a bionic arm and frozen between assignments. Now he's the Winter Soldier, with his own impressive comic title that is also among the best in the current Marvel line.
What I'm saying is that emotionally damaged sidekicks that die and come back to life make for great comic books. If that happens to Damian, I'm willing to bet it will be entertaining at least, maybe even great.Hair Balls Rice Offers Course on Batman's History, for the Second Time
I don't think it will (Or should) happen, though. DC wants to keep Grant Morrison happy, and Grant Morrison planned to kill Damian the moment he invented him. He grew to love his creation, but Damian's death is important. It brings Batman back to zero, a ronin of justice in the shadows.
The problem with comic books is they are never supposed to end. It's the same reason soap operas see so many people back from the dead. The story is supposed to continue forever, and almost always returns to its original form or most popular form. Comic book Batman is rarely without a Robin.
The question is, "Is Damian Wayne's death a defining moment for Batman as Uncle Ben's was for Spider-Man, or can it be rewritten without destroying the character of Batman." Bruce Wayne really became Batman the moment his parents died, the moment his young mind rejected the ability of criminals to take lives if he could prevent it. The loss of a son could possibly have that same effect on him, and part of me hopes that it will become as defining a moment for him as the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne.
Not many superheroes lose a son. As a grown man, surely Batman's rage against his parent's death has dulled. The death of a child? That is a fire that never, never goes out. If Bruce Wayne chooses to continue to be Batman so no more children die like his son, it will be a beautiful, terrible thing to behold.
One final note... I always remember Neil Gaiman's Sandman story "Façade." It dealt with a long-forgotten sidekick, Element Girl, who was living alone and afraid after her career was over on disability checks and getting by on a single phone call from an agency as her contact with the outside world. Her powers made her effectively immortal, but her life had no purpose anymore.
It's an amazing story, and in many ways mirrors the world of comic book characters themselves. Sometimes we drag these poor creations along far past the point when we should have allowed them to rest. Long past a point when death was a tragedy and not a release.
Sometimes a story isn't real until it's over.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.