DC Histories: Damian Wayne (Robin V)

Here at DC Histories, we try to make sense of the continuity that perplexes, befuddles, and intimidates. We discuss what worked and what didn’t. This week, we’re talking about Damian Wayne, the biological son of Batman and the fifth person in the DCU to take the name Robin.

Batman and Robin (Vol. 1) #20 (2011) Cover

Batman and Robin (Vol. 1) #20 (2011) Cover

Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul’s relationship is a complicated one. Talia, daughter of the terrorist Ra’s al Ghul, seems constantly torn between the love she has for her father and the desire she feels towards Batman. Bruce also finds himself conflicted with his feelings for Talia whenever he’s attempting to stop another one of Ra’s plans. After multiple sparrings between Bruce and Ra’s, the sexual tension between the Dark Knight Detective and Talia became insurmountable and the two shared a bed together in the graphic novel Batman: Son of the Demon.

From Batman: Son of the Demon (1987)

From Batman: Son of the Demon (1987)

The story ended with a shocking reveal. Talia rejected Bruce’s offer for the pair of them to remain together. On the story’s final page, it was hinted that Talia bore Bruce’s child and then gave him up for adoption.

From Batman: Son of the Demon (1987)

From Batman: Son of the Demon (1987)

Almost as soon as this story came out, DC disavowed it. Bruce Wayne had a son who was somewhere out in the world without his knowledge? That just simply wouldn’t fly for a DC superhero. This story was branded as being out-of-continuity and it was never mentioned again.

Well, it wasn’t mentioned again until writer Grant Morrison came on board Batman. Morrison began to assimilate huge swatches of past Batman continuity that had previous fallen by the wayside. From bringing the Silver Age version of Batwoman back into continuity to having Bat-Mite reappear, Morrison took an “everything goes” policy to his story. That included the child that Talia and Bruce shared together.

Though Morrison was bringing old stories back into a modern comic, changes were made. While Bruce and Talia’s one night together did result in the conception of a child, Talia never gave him up for adoption in this new tale. Now, the secret baby was partially grown in a lab where he was experimented on and his body perfected. It was here that Talia named her son Damian.

From Batman Incorporated (Vol. 2) #2 (2012)

From Batman Incorporated (Vol. 2) #2 (2012)

Damian grew up as a member of the League of Assassins, an international group of merciless killers that was organized under Ra’s al Ghul. While with the group, Damian learned the arts of stealth, sneak attacks, and murder. Due to his body being almost perfect and his desire to do well for his mother, he took to the training with gusto. By the time Talia revealed him to Bruce Wayne, Damian was hardly a normal ten year-old boy.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #656 (2006)

From Batman (Vol. 1) #656 (2006)

It was difficult to like Damian at first. The formative years he spent with Talia caused him to be antisocial and extremely self-centered. After being dropped on his doorstep by Talia, Batman introduced the boy to Tim Drake, the current Robin and the person closest in age to Damian. It didn’t go well.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #657 (2006)

From Batman (Vol. 1) #657 (2006)

There was another layer to Damian’s actions. The snotty, confident, petulant kid was simply Damian’s exterior. Just below the surface, Damian wanted nothing more than to be accepted by his parents. His upbringing told him to act in the way that he did but he truly wanted Batman’s approval. Damian respected Batman. He wanted to be close to Batman so much that he nearly sent Tim into a coma by a sucker punching him when his back was turned. In the society he had grown up in, it was customary for assassins to annihilate those above them in the pecking order in order to rise in the organization. Tim and Damian remained on icy terms afterwards.

Talia had chosen that moment to drop off Damian with his father because she had big plans from which she wanted Batman distracted. Damian seemed to be the best way to distract him. As Bruce was attempting to figure out Talia’s next plan, Damian’s need for approval finally broke through and he revealed all that he knew.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #658 (2006)

From Batman (Vol. 1) #658 (2006)

Even though he was sort of aware of his father’s opposition to murder, Damian beheaded an opponent while in Gotham. It was simply his League of Assassins training and Bruce eventually forgave the boy.

At the end of the story, Damian and Talia were caught in an explosion. Damian was at the point of death when Talia brought him back to her headquarters and repaired his body. Experiments with Damian’s DNA had been done in the past and extra cloned body parts were available to restore his failing organs. Originally, this facility had been created to keep Ra’s al Ghul alive, but as he was currently dead it was where Damian could be fixed.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #665 (2007)

From Batman (Vol. 1) #665 (2007)

After the first meeting between Damian and the Bat Family, Damian returned to live with his mother. He remained in contact with Batman and when Ra’s al Ghul returned from the dead a short time later, Batman kept the seemingly immortal terrorist from taking over his grandson’s body. During the Batman R.I.P. storyline which followed soon afterwards, Damian was seen to be spending more and more time in Gotham alongside the various supporting cast members.

Everything changed when Bruce Wayne died during Final Crisis. Batman’s death threw everything into confusion. After a brief struggle for power in Gotham, Dick Grayson, the first Robin, took up the cape and cowl. While Tim Drake was off exploring the world in an attempt to prove that Bruce hadn’t really died, Dick needed a Robin at his side. Damian became that Robin.

From Batman and Robin (Vol. 1) #1 (2009)

From Batman and Robin (Vol. 1) #1 (2009)

Though Damian took to the role extremely well, it was a bit disconcerting to see a ten year-old boy doing the things that Damian was doing. From the acrobatic movements of a gymnast to the brutality of a barbarian, Damian had immense physical skills belying his look of a skinny little boy with a big head.

From Batman and Robin (Vol. 1) #2 (2009)

From Batman and Robin (Vol. 1) #2 (2009)

Dick and Damian didn’t get along well at first. Angry at his father’s death, Damian occasionally refused to follow his step-brother’s orders in the field. Damian simply reasoned that only his father could tell him what to do. Slowly, he began to grudgingly accept the mentoring the new Batman was giving him and the two became a tight-knit team.

Still, Damian’s brutality remained firmly in place. When given the opportunity to question the Joker, Damian beat the madman with a crowbar. It was fitting as the Joker used the same weapon to kill Jason Todd, the second Robin.

From Batman and Robin (Vol. 1) #13 (2010)

From Batman and Robin (Vol. 1) #13 (2010)

After becoming accustomed towards his new working relationship with Dick, Damian began to expand his other relationships in the DCU. During a case that Stephanie Brown, former Robin and then-current Batgirl, was working, Damian paired off with her and attempted to run the case. Just as he had done with everyone else, he immediately rubbed her the wrong way.

From Batgirl (Vol. 3) #7 (2010)

From Batgirl (Vol. 3) #7 (2010)

The case wrapped up successfully and Stephanie started to see Damian as the annoying little brother she never wanted.

In that same year, Tim and Damian’s relationship finally stabilized. Having never gotten along since the day they were first introduced, the pair duked it out in the streets of Gotham. Only after Dick made the pair stop and realize they were fighting in Crime Alley, the area in which Thomas and Martha Wayne were killed decades earlier, did they finally quell their active feud. They would never be friends but they could at least be cordial.

Around that time, Damian also worked with Supergirl on a case. He treated her as a means to an end and not someone worthy of being acknowledged as an equal. She managed to change his mind a bit at the end but sparks didn’t exact fly from their pairing, no matter how much Dick teased him.

From Superman/Batman #77 (2010)

From Superman/Batman #77 (2010)

The following year, Dick talked up his time with the Teen Titans, an organization he’d co-founded as a youth, in an effort to get Damian to make some friends. Damian had a single adventure with the Titans but left when Tim rejoined them. The Titans weren’t big enough for two Robins and Tim had dibs.

Soon afterwards, Bruce Wayne came back from the dead. Though the original Batman was once again behind the Batman mask, his goals were now much larger than simply Gotham City. Bruce set about creating an international group known as Batman Incorporated. Every county on Earth would have its own Batman. Since he was away from Gotham quite often while dealing with this new operation, he left Dick Grayson as the Batman of Gotham. Even with this new massive team, Bruce still feared that something incredibly bad was on the horizon. Something that would end in death.

From Batman Incorporated (Vol. 1) #6 (2011)

From Batman Incorporated (Vol. 1) #6 (2011)

In the pages of the various New 52 books, Dick Grayson hung up his Batman mask and went back to being Nightwing, the costume he’d worn just before Bruce’s death. Damian was now the Robin to his father’s Batman. Being teamed with his father was all young Damian wanted in the beginning and while things were bumpy now and again, he was glad to finally get what he wanted.

That didn’t mean that he wasn’t still vicious when he wanted to be. While taking down back alley thugs, Damian was brutal.

From Batman and Robin (Vol. 2) #3 (2012)

From Batman and Robin (Vol. 2) #3 (2012)

However ruthless Damian was with his opponents, he did reveal a soft spot for animals. In an effort to calm him down and teach Damian empathy, Bruce bought a Great Dane which was eventually named Titus. A kitten was added to the Batcave named Alfred. Most unusual of all, Damian insisted that Bat-Cow come and live with them.

From Batman Incorporated (Vol. 2) #1 (2012)

From Batman Incorporated (Vol. 2) #1 (2012)

Recently, things have come to an impasse in the relationship between Talia, Bruce, and Damian. Talia has begun flexing her muscle and is using an international terrorism group known as Leviathan to bring the world to its knees. Originally, Bruce thought that all Talia wanted was Damian back but it seems she has slightly different goals than just that.

From Batman Incorporated (Vol. 2) #4 (2012)

From Batman Incorporated (Vol. 2) #4 (2012)

Bruce feared that allowing Damian to eventually become Batman would result in Leviathan achieving its goals and taking over the world. Readers have seen some of Damian as Batman, which were discussed in an article about the various future Batmen that have been presented over the years. From what has been shown, Bruce’s fears are well founded.

Today it seems that everything is coming to a head. Word broke early Monday morning that Damian was going to die in Batman Incorporated #8.

robin1--525x800

Batman Incorporated (Vol. 2) #8 (2013) Cover

Will his death mean that Talia and Leviathan’s plans are finally defeated? How will his parents each respond to his death? Who will eventually take his spot as Robin? These questions will almost certainly be addressed in the following months. For now, all we can do is remember Damian as the angry, abrasive, needy, love-starved kid that he was. Damian’s time as a member of the Bat Family won’t soon be forgotten.

 


Jeff Reid admits that Damian grew on him. The kid had spunk. Jeff claims he’ll grow on you too if you follow him on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Requiescat in pace.

  2. Reboot in peace.
    May you have at least a decade of rest.

  3. -TT-

  4. Personally, I think that Damian was Morrison’s best contribution to the Batbooks. I loved how despite all his unqiue life experience, Damian was struggling with the same emotional issues of rebellion/accpetance that every kid his age goes through. Yes, he was brat at times, but again, who wasn’t at that age? I, for one, shall definitely miss him . . .

  5. I should go track down that Supergirl story now — sorry I missed it at the time . . .

  6. Well… it just isn’t the Batcave with out a Robin Costume in a glass case, ya know?

  7. Great article as usual, Jeff. I think this one was the best yet.

    One kind suggestion for future installments – could you consider including a reading list at the end? A list of the issues one needs to read to get the meat of the story would be a huge help in sharing this with others. Thanks!

  8. Today Damian Wayne dies.

    I’m a huge Grant Morrison fan and to me his run on Batman is the definitive modern run. Maybe Snyders run will rival Morrisons, he certainly has started strong. The great Frank Miller gave us amazing background to Batman with Year One (and that was played upon by Loeb in Long Halloween and Dark Victory) and an amazing future with Dark Knight and Dark Knight returns, but Morrison…he gave us the Detective as never seen before.

    In JLA Grant showed us just how amazing Batman could be by having Gods look to a mere mortal for leadership,guidance and to be the answer when none was apparent. Morrison gave us psychological thrillers, bad guys that really were bad, the Legion of Bats, Batman Incorporated, a legacy of bats, Waynes throughout history, Bruce Waynes Death, Dick Grayson as Batman and he gave us Damian Wayne, the son of Bruce and Talia.

    Then he made Damian Robin.

    My love for Batman and Robin has always been geared more towards the Robin side of it. Maybe it’s because reading those books as a boy in the 1970’s, it was easier to relate to a Boy Wonder than to a Dark Knight. A big part of my childhood reading is why Dick Grayson is my favorite DC Character. Whether he be side kick to Batman, Leader of the Teen Titans, Beat Cop, Circus Performer, Nightwing, Batman, playboy about town sleeping with every female hero he has been my fave. He was always the light to Batman’s dark.

    I didn’t care for Jason Todd, in fact he’s actually much better back from the dead than he ever was alive the first time. I really got to dig Tim Drake, but that was due more to the Teen Titans reboot done by Johns than anything in the Bat Books.

    Then came Damian.

    I loved that snarky little son of a bitch right from his first insult he uttered. He threatened and postured. He scowled and complained. He gave orders and demanded action. He stood down villains and boards of directors.

    He was raised by the league of assassins to be the heir to the Bat. He despised all. He killed. He wore a hood. He respected Grayson in spite of himself. After his father died he was more than ready to take the cowl. He brought us a bat dog and a bat cow and it never felt ridiculous. He swore. He lied. He acted like a petulant child. He had humanity.

    The Morrison written Batman and Robin books with Dick as Batman and Damian as Robin are instant classics written with wit and a love of the rich history of the Batman and Robin mythology while bringing all the insanity and camp of the Bat legacy into the 21st century. It never felt forced or ironic, instead it seemed both natural and right.

    Today in a comic book Grant Morrison killed his greatest creation. I am sad. I won’t see the death until the trade for Batman Incorporated Volume 2 comes out (it’s how I can afford to collect). I’ve seen the pics and read the spoilers. DC confirmed all, putting the story out there and Grant has even given interviews.

    There really hasn’t been a ton of new characters created by the big two in the last 25 years that I enjoy. The Indy scene is another story completely, but for the big two it’s: Tim Drake, Conner Kent, The Runaways (BKV who is the only creator I love more than Morrison), Marvel Boy (another Morrison), Kid Omega (yet another Morrison), Fantomex ( oh gee, Morrison) and Damian (Morrison).

    Now Damian Wayne, the best of them, is gone.

    I’ve been reading comics since 1972, so I understand that comic deaths are rarely forever. I get that Morrison set up his return years ago by showing that his Mother has the ability to clone him (oh, and let’s not forget that she is an al Ghul with that whole “Lazarus Pit” thing) but it’s still a death of a character I love. It’s still a moment that will tug on my heartstrings. It’s still a loss of one of my favorites.

    I hope there are stories left to tell for Damian and I hope they are by Grant Morrison, but barring that I hope that a new writer that is out there is so inspired by Damian that years from now they come to DC Comics with a pitch to bring back the little prick and make everyone love him all over again.

    R.I.P Damian Wayne and thank you for being amazing.

  9. Guess who DIDN’T see the fecking spoiler warning!!!!!!!!!!

  10. My guess is that he’ll be back before he’s even missed. I know many people were upset with Parker’s “death” but Damian Wayne’s the death that has me up in arms.

  11. Morrison gave it, Morrison took it. Rest In Peace Damian. He is the reason I became a regular comic book reader because the idea of Batman having a son just sounded too crazy and I had see for myself what that was all about.
    I thought that there was no way in hell that Damian was going to work, at the time I didn’t know who Morrison was or what he he is able to do with characters, then I read the Introduction of Damian my jaw drop in awe of the uniqueness of the character and how he made sense as Batman’s son. This little spoiled 10 year old brat was more than I expected he was incredibly intelligent, arrogant, sarcastic, self-righteous and lethal but somehow he managed to make it really funny and with time he showed how sweet he can be. I really enjoyed how the character evolved and developed his relationship with his father and some of his family(Dick and Alfred especially) and that he is the kind of Robin who would beat you with a crowbar (I’ll never forget that panel) but still is a kid and really loves his pets.I hope he somehow returns from the grave.

  12. Damian’s story really is tragic. I absolutely love everything about him, and I really hope they let his character rest for a while. This being comic books, I don’t expect him to stay dead forever, but at least a few years.

  13. It says Damian is Robin V but I only know of four Dick, Jason, Tim, and Damian. Is the other Robin Carrie from Dark Knight Returns?

  14. This article lead to me no longer following ifanboy on Twitter due to the way this article was described in their feed and the fact it gave away the Batman Inc ending to me. Now I’ve read the issue and dared to look on the site again this article seems to not have the same spoilers in the header so I’m fine with it. Was very annoyed with the twitter version.

  15. Arrrggghhh Arrrggghhh (@Arrrggghhh) says:

    Great article!
    My only fear now is that Batman comics will no longer be interesting. Damien was the key reason I read those books. Since the New 52, Batman as a character seems more flawed and weaker. (Perhaps it’s the lack of true detective work in stories lately.) I find the other “Robins” to be dull and they are all “one-note” personalities, especially when compared to the interesting/complex character of Damien.
    We shall see . . .