Damn it! i want to shake my fist in the air, shout curses upon curses to the sky in hopes that DC editors may hear them even as a whisper, i want to sit here and type angry words of negativity through my Macbook keyboard…..but alas, i cannot.
So this is it! Grand Morrison’s swan song in the Batman mythology begins here. I start by typing that I have enjoyed Grant Morrison’s work for the last 7 years and am sad to see him leave DC’s Batman. Every writer who has ever left their mark in ink on paper with Batman has become solidified in the eyes of readers in one way or another. Snyder’s Batman, Morrison’s Batman, they all become simply Batman in due time as characters inherit developments established by authors in memorable runs. Batman Incorporated begins to wrap up the Morrison epic seven years in the making and reveals a lasting impact that will surely leave fans heart-broken.
We pick up where we left off last month: Bruce has been locked in a safe and thrown into water with a set time to escape, leaving him out of the start of this fight. Heretic and the agents of Leviathan have captured Wayne Tower and Nightwing and Gordon find themselves among a wave of attacking, brainwashed, children. Damian rockets off to the rescue as he drops smoke bomb upon the crowd of kids allowing for quick subduing of many, Nightwing follows Damian to Wayne tower and leaves Gordon to deal with the kids as Red Robin rescues Ellie the receptionist at Wayne Tower and begins to fight off Leviathan’s minions. Damian arrives, shocks the rest of the children into submission and together with Nightwing takes on the agents of Leviathan using smoke bombs. They set their sights on Heretic as he arrives with Oroborro, the world bomb. They fail to knock him out and Nightwing is brutally grabbed and tossed to a nearby display rendering him unconscious. Damian takes on Heretic himself all the while pleading for his Mother to stand down and call off his beast. Heretic attempts to snatch up the bomb key from Ellie whom has picked it up but Damian fires a crossbow bold into the chest of Heretic. He kicks the arrow through the body once he sees it didn’t go through all the way and causes significant damage to Heretic by stabbing him in the neck. Leviathan agents fire on Damian with bullets and arrows and some impale his arms. Legs and torso but he continues fighting exclaiming that they are cowards. Heretic fails to break Damian’s spine and tosses him to the wall. Bruce finally escapes the trap from Talia and rushes in a panic to Damian as Talia through the radio tells Bruce that Damian was nothing more than a failed experiment. Heretic approaches Damian with a large sword as Damian makes a final plea with his mother to stand down. He is visibly frightened and backs himself to the wall as Heretic Impales his small body with the sword raising him up into the air as he does so. Bruce arrives too late and cradles his son’s lifeless and destroyed body as Ellie looks on, still holding the Oroborro key. Damian stopped the use of the world bomb saved Ellie, possibly Nightwing and sacrificed himself. The final page shows the classic death in the family pose as Batman weeps holding on to the body of Robin.
Grant Morrison had told us that Damian would die a heroic death and become the hero he strived to be, yes it was true but he didn’t mention how brutal of a death it was. To me Talia, moving forward, has no chance at redemption past this act (or lack of one) and it is this type of storytelling that I love. I am wrecked to see Damian meet his brutal demise, I hate Talia, and to some extent can’t help but place some blame on Bruce as well. Morrison has done his job well in making us feel something for character we have followed for so may years. Never has a comic stung me so much to the point of feeling utter hatred for the unfairness of it all. I have browsed through forums, read blogs, and comments on social media posts about this event. Fans are for the most part sad to lose this character and some have begun showing disdain toward the fact that they’ve built up Damian to be this very likable boy who strived to do his best and leave behind his sadistic upbringing. While I enjoyed the issue quite a bit I did not particularly love the art, though it did help soften the brutality, there were moments where it seemed far too cartoony. The final moments he spent with Dick Grayson were perfectly written as they double punch Heretic like they did to many foes in Batman & Robin. No matter what continuity has done to the timeline the stories we have read are not gone, we still remember them and it was nice to see them acknowledged.
Morrison’s evolution of this character was amazing. He was the misunderstood kid, the outsider that everyone judges too quickly, the kid from the dysfunctional family that struggles to figure out the path of life and often makes mistakes but ultimately acknowledges them, the kid who sells himself short, the kid who strives to be something he may never be able to achieve, that to me is what made this character my favorite of the Robins. Morrison might have had his fate determined a while ago but I bet he himself had trouble going through with it. Damian has for a long time now outgrown Morrison due to the fan base and other writers fleshing him out further. Do I want him back? Yes I believe there are more stories of his to tell but I want to wait a while, I want to see just how much this character meant to the Bat-family and then bring him back in a moment he is needed most. There were pieces of myself in this character, I too struggled with my stubborn father, I too was a loner with few friends , I too found friends in multiple pets rather than other humans and most importantly I too made a change in myself. Damian and Heretic define the Nature vs Nurture argument. Nature is about survival by the fittest, letting your instincts and self needs guide you and Nurture (when done right) is about sacrifice, selflessness and co-existence, fighting the battle that never ends. Robin may have failed to stop Talia but he crippled part of her plan and more importantly shows us that our actions, dedication and strength of mind are what help us persevere in life. The biggest lesson to take from this tragic story I believe is: “We are who WE choose to be”. RIP Damian, may you make your triumphant return in due time.
Final Grading: 10/10