The big issue everyone’s been talking about is finally here, it’s time for the death of another Robin.
I’ll forgo a huge summary of the plot. The gist of things is that Talia’s attacked Gotham and a new super soldier, essentially Damian’s “brother” is attacking people and looking for a bomb. Batman is trapped and Damian breaks into the scene along with Nightwing as the two try to rescue innocent lives and stop the super soldier. After Nightwing’s incapacitated, Damian is left to battle his brother alone and ends up being killed, just as Batman manages to arrive.
So how many people would have guessed that Damian was going to die during this issue if not for the spoilers leaked all over the place? There were certainly some hints in the last one, what with the old faithful “take care of them until I get back,” line from Damian as he went into battle. I had a hunch something would happen, but I didn’t think Damian would actually die. It’s a bit of a shame, I’ve come to like the guy quite a lot. Damian’s character is one of the biggest impacts Grant Morrison had on Batman, essentially being introduced during his first issue. Grant Morrison’s run is one of those things that allowed me to jump into reading comics older than the New 52. There’s a definite beginning, middle and now, an end.
I hadn’t been keeping up with this series all that much, but as soon as rumors began swirling around that Damian might die, I decided to pick it back up. I’m loving what I’ve been reading – it’s just those first few issues that put me off from reading more. The attacks going on in the last few issues are great, there’s a sense of scale to them that merits all of the heroes appearing. If Damian had to die, I do like that it’s during such a big event and not something relatively self contained.
It does suck that he’s dead, like I said, I had come to enjoy reading him. When he first appeared, Damian was an annoying, self aggrandizing punk with a major superiority complex. He’s gone on to become…well, he’s still all of those things. What makes him interesting is that in spite of those questionable character traits, he is a fun character. He’s become respectful of the former Robins, most of the time, and it’s always great to see just how far he’s come with Nightwing. They were Batman and Robin for a while and things were a little rocky when they started out together, but now there’s a clear sense of respect going both ways.
Damian’s been one of those characters who has had such a clear level of evolution and growth that I love so much. He’s still somewhat annoying from time to time, but that’s in his nature. His personality was never going to be any different, but his views certainly changed over time. He went from the guy thinking he could replace his father and be better than Dick, Tim, and Jason to being a team player who understands that he can learn a little from the former Robins in the family. I mean, yeah, he’s still got this massive sense of entitlement, but he’s not blind to his faults and knows when he can stand to learn from other characters out there.
I’ve also got to mention how much I hate Talia right now. As much as she claims otherwise, she cares for Damian. She calls him a failed test tube experiment in front of others, but she’s clearly thinking of herself as his mother, for however brief a period. And she still ends leading to his death, despite whatever she felt for him, for the greater cause. She’s a terrible character – not that she’s written badly, but she’s just one of those characters that you can’t help but dislike a lot. Talia’s pretty all over the place at times, but you can’t help wanting to bite her head off here, despite those waterworks she put on at the end of the issue.
As I read this issue, I really didn’t know how to feel, and that’s the sign of a death well done. You’re in shock and you’re going through a bunch of different emotions. Damian has been “my” Robin, he’s the one who had the title when I started reading and he’s the only one whose tenure I’ve managed to read almost everything related to. To see him die is the end of a major chapter. Of course these are comics and characters come back all the time, but I’m not so sure whether or not Damian’s going to be back. He’s a creation of Grant Morrison and Morrison has always had a very succinct plan sketched out for his run.
Jason Todd, the second Robin, died and eventually came back as the criminal turn anti-hero Red Hood, but Damian’s death is pretty different. Damian’s saga was Morrison’s pet project and with Morrison’s reign coming to an end shortly, this really feels like the end of an era. I’m a little disappointed that we never got a full run with Damian as the main Robin in any animated production – in my mind that feels like the thing that would cement his place within the public mindset. Now I feel that this is something that’s probably never going to happen. And no one knows what’s in store for Batman now. Batman and Robin, the comic series, has just lost one of its title characters and the former Robins are going to be guest starring, but that’s not a pattern you can sustain for too long.
So, I guess this leaves us with the big question: who will take Damian’s place? Are we going to see a sixth Robin? Will one of the older Robins take up the mantle again? You’ve got to wonder how this will impact Bruce, this time he’s actually lost a flesh and blood son.