One thing that I wanted to talk about on this week’s podcast, but didn’t make it in was the events in Batman, Inc. #8- the death of Damian Wayne.
I’m going to start off by saying I wasn’t a huge fan of Damian as Robin. I’m fine with the concept of Bruce having a son that was brewed up by Talia and bred to be a ninja assassin capable of taking up the Bat-mantle, but the way that Damian was made Robin did get me upset.
See, I’m a Tim Drake fan. I have been ever since his debut in Batman #436. He was brilliant, resourceful, and best of all, a self-made hero. He approached Batman, not the other way around. He was the first Robin to actively seek out the role of boy wonder, seeing that Batman
needed someone to keep him grounded, to help him stay on the side of light. Without Tim’s intervention, Bruce could have fallen into a darkness he may not have been able to escape.
I followed Tim through Batman/Detective, his own Robin mini-series and ongoing, and in Young Justice and later Teen Titans. He was destined for big things. Even when Tim was briefly replaced with Stephanie Brown, I was in his corner. I even got behind the idea of Tim taking
on the Blue Beetle mantle when it was announced DC was killing off Ted Kord (another useless death).
Unfortunately, what we got was less than thrilling. Damian was introduced, and shortly after Batman RIP and Battle for the Cowl, Tim was quickly shuffled off as Red Robin (who had previously been both Dick Grayson AND Jason Todd) and the bastard son was placed as Batman’s sidekick.
Now, I’m also okay with the Red Robin concept, I finally came to terms with the fact that DC wouldn’t let Tim have a new identity of his own, ala Nightwing. With the reboot in 2011, Tim seemed even more removed from the Bat-family, only appearing in Teen Titans in a horribly 90’s-inspired suit designed by Brett Booth. Since I had no interest in that book, I quietly wrote Tim off. Sad, but inevitable.
So, with Damian as Robin to Dick’s Batman (pre-return) fans seemed to really choose sides on the love him/hate him opinion war. Again, I didn’t have a real problem with Damian, just the treatment of Tim as a result of his userpation of the Robin role. But, eventually, I came to be fine with what I read, and accepted what the writers were doing. This hot headed, arrogant bastard son was someone you loved to hate, with his outright distain of the other Robins, his disrespect of Alfred, and his weird relationship with Bruce (post-return). Not your typical father/son family bond there. Damian had grown on me, and I had accepted him as Robin, for better or worse.
So when DC announced they were killing him, it was quite a shock. Not only because of the character’s popularity, and the seriousness of death in the rebooted DC universe (no revolving door anymore, post Blackest Night), but also because DC decided to spoil it in the press prior to the release of the book. Most likely to drive up sales.
Let me tell you a few reasons why I feel that’s idiotic.
#1- It’s sensationalist. While it boosts sales, it causes sell outs immediately. My LCS ran out of the book in about 5 hours.
#2- It’s a kick in the nuts for hardcore fans, who would have loved to discover it themselves. Imagine if you were one of the unlucky people in line for Empire Strikes Back to overhear that Vader was Luke’s father. You’d feel cheated, no?
#3- There are other awesome moments in other DC titles that didn’t get mentioned at all by DC editorial. Batwoman proposing to her girlfriend at the end of #17. Why did this get no coverage? Positive gay role model does something positive and nary a word.
#4- It’s been done. They killed Jason Todd off VERY publicly in the 80’s. “Hey- that worked before to boost sales, let’s get a press
release out there!” See point #1.
So, what happens now? We get a month of Bat-family mourning issues, and then what? Batman is solo again. Does Tim come back? Does DC finally re-introduce Stephanie- reclaiming (sort of) the Robin mantle? Who knows. Some would say who cares. DC is big on flash-in-the-pan stunts these days. All in all, it hardly seems like it will matter. Which kinda sucks.
And while I feel that Damian deserved a bit better than to be killed off, at least he went down like a hero.