So, it’s been a little over a month since Damian Wayne was killed over in the pages of the mainstream DC Comics. Fan response for the most part has been an enjoyable thing to watch. I myself have already written my feelings on the subject and while I eagerly await the ending of Batman Inc. It’s a damn shame that what is in my opinion one of DC’s best creations of the past decade, is no more. Fans have gone on an emotional roller coaster the likes of which I haven’t seen in some time. Reactions range from those who no longer want another child Robin because of this, to those who are having a hard time coming to terms with the inevitability of another Robin showing up soon. Some fans however, are turning their passion for this character into something enjoyable, it’s great to see that a piece of fiction has inspired people to create their own stories and share them with a community that is eager to see a favorite character again…..
In film school there were contradicting views on how to view an audience. There were professors who taught me to pretty much assume that the audience will need to be held by the hand and guided through a story and then there were professors (the ones I preferred) who taught me to acknowledge that an audience will be able to pick up on details and truly understand my story so long as I developed it with enough intricacy and passion. Growing up with comics I found it odd at many times to read a comic where a character was written so poorly and way off of what has already been established as the norm for that character. Fans are a rowdy bunch, but a bunch that recognize the voice of a character well enough to discern when there is something not quite right bout him/her. In truth it is as though you know this character’s voice as though you’ve once heard it, ringing through your ears at one point in your life. Enter: JUNIOR! a passionate fan project by Vivian Gallasch, Pamela Lovas, and Megan Butler, this comic is a love letter to Damian Wayne and fans who in some shape or form want the story to continue. I’ll confess that I’m not one to delve into writing fan fiction or to read it as i find that it many times misses the ball entirely. But this book bleeds passion from fans who seemed to pay homage to those little moments introduced by Pete Tomasi in the pages of the New52 Batman and Robin, Damian loves animals, Morrison established that, Tomasi cemented it and now fans acknowledge it as an important stand out trait to the character. More importantly the voice of the character is pretty much there and intact. There are key moments in the Tomasi/Gleason book that really captured my attention; Damian bonding with Titus, seemingly naming a sewer rat he often sees, taking the time to find Martha’s pearls, sketching out drawings of his surroundings, and the entire annual issue’s story. It was these moments, recently brought out in the New52 Batman and Robin title that truly confirmed what we as readers have been experiencing for years now; an evolution, a true character defining arc. Yes, he was groomed to die but perhaps we never would have gotten such an arc if he wasn’t meant to meet his end. JUNIOR is itself a very interesting and touching story drawn out beautifully in an anime esque style in a non canonical setting (of course).
This isn’t the only “Fan” project released recently to really rally up some followers though. Yale Stewart’s amazing JL8 is another ongoing series that details the Justice league in silver age attire as young grade schoolers. Yale releases one comic strip a week while JUNIOR is released at one issue a month. Out of the two it was JL8 that I came to notice first (inevitably through social media) for JUNIOR is a far more recent addition, I instantly fell in love with Stewart’s writing on JL8 as it seemed to perfectly portray what each character is and should be. In one of the earlier strips we see a nod to the New52 as Yale seemed to oppose the changes made to continuity, the nod however, was a subtle one that really screamed out as a wake up call to DC’s current state, something best seen by current comic book readers. JUNIOR takes on a different approach to DC’s universe; Vivien Gallasch really writes Damian well here. The series is new so I can’t comment on whether it will be consistent but if the next few stories are as well written as the initial first issue I definitely will be regularly downloading this book. Don’t expect a huge 22 page story here but rather a short, brief, but to the point story that reconnects you to Damian’s well hidden self who showed his face here and there all throughout his official canonical run. So what’s the point of my write-up today? well I just want to say that comics would not be where they are today if it were not for the fans. In today’s world a fan can more readily and efficiently display his/her talent by producing self-made content and showing off their love of the medium itself. Keep in mind however that for years prior to the internet fans have readily pushed themselves into the positions of writing and drawing comics. It’s a universal truth in all forms of art that all those in the business today were once the eager fans in childhood and adolescence. Comics today find themselves catering to a very mature audience and the fans have evolved alongside the stories. For any piece of fiction that improves your life to the point of you wanting to share your own take on it, well that my friends is a damn good piece of art.
***I hesitated to post too many panels or art work from these sources as I believe you should really experience them for yourselves. Below are links to each work’s page, please do take the them to visit them, I promise you won’t regret it. ***