The New York Post today confirmed one of the most prominent rumors floating around about DC – Grant Morrison will kill off Damian Wayne in Batman Incorporated #8.
For those of you not in the know, Damin Wayne is the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul, raised mostly by Talia, but who at age 10 has been learning how not to be an assassin by taking up the role of Robin alongside his father.
“What we did was turn this little monster into a superhero,” Morrison said of Damian's character arc. “He’s a little brat, but he’s a super-brat.”
Apparently, that super-brat is going to be killed by a hulking clone of his, as a result of a conflict between Batman and Talia – an allegory of how children can suffer when their parents fight.
“It’s all about the family and the family going to hell,” said Morrison. “The two adults in the story are both culpable. The kid’s the good guy.”
“He saves the world. He does his job as Robin,” he noted. “He dies an absolute hero.”
Morrison also gave us an essay on his ideas and motives for Batman Incorporated, which reaches its conclusion with this arc. In it, he explains a bit why his whole take on Batman seemed a bit off from what most everyone else does with the Caped Crusader – he was trying to blend every incarnation of Batman since he began in 1939.
As I was researching his rich history, I became fascinated by the idea that every Batman story was in some way true and biographical – from the savage, young, pulp-flavored “weird figure of the dark” of his early years, through the smiling, paternal figure of the 1940s and the proto-psychedelic crusader of the ‘50s, the superhero detective of the ‘60s, the hairy-chested globetrotting adventurer of the ‘70s, to the brutally physical vigilante of the ‘80s and snarling, paranoid soldier of the ‘90s.
By taking his entire publishing history as the story of his life, I was able to approach Batman from a different angle and the multifaceted character that was revealed became the subject of my story.
What would such a man be like, realistically? This was a man who had saved countless lives, faced innumerable perils, and even prevented the destruction of the world itself. This was a master of martial arts, meditation, deduction, yoga and big business. This was a man who had tamed and mastered his demons and turned personal tragedy into a relentless humanitarian crusade.
Taking that man seriously meant I had to throw out a few of the accepted ideas about Batman as a semi-unhinged, essentially humorless loner struggling with rage and guilt. The totality of his history and accomplishments made that portrayal seem limited and unconvincing, so instead, my Batman was a true superhero at the height of his powers and the peak of his abilities, surrounded by a network of friends and associates, all of whom had been inspired by his lead.
All of this played into the creation of Damian Wayne as Robin in the first place. He may have technically first appeared as a baby in the 1987 story Batman: Son of the Demon, but Morrison is the one who brought this interpretation of the boy to life.
I chose to build my story around the basic trauma, the murder of his parents, that lies at the heart of Batman’s genesis. It seemed to me there would be a part of Bruce Wayne that resented his parents for leaving him and especially resented his father for not being Batman that night, so the principal villains were an archetypal bad father figure in the form of Dr. Hurt and a dark mother in the form of Talia, our villain for the concluding chapters of the story.
This master theme of damaged and ruined families was nowhere more in evidence than in the creation of Damian, the first “Son of Batman” to be acknowledged in the canon. In many ways this has been Damian’s story as much as it has been the story of Bruce Wayne and it’s a story that had its end planned a long time ago – for what son could ever hope to replace a father like Batman, who never dies?
So, as controversially as he began, Morrison is ending both his Batman run and his new Robin in the same way. "The conclusion is finally here, with only four more issues to go," he said. "Four issues which take Batman to dark places he has never had to visit before."
What do you think of this? Is Damian Wayne popular enough that he won't stay dead for very long? Jason Todd was so unpopular that he was killed off by a fan vote, but even he came back to life, so that does speak well of Damian's chances. Or, conversely, this might open a slot to actually reintroduce Stephanie Brown as Robin. Or maybe even Cassandra Cain.