Robin / Damian Wayne: Where Do I Start?

2150927-7He’s the prodigal son that Batman needed, and the biological son Bruce Wayne never knew he had.

Damian Wayne — the most recent Robin, sidekick to Batman — was an impetuous teenage boy, full of ideas and insolence and didn’t take kindly to orders. While that might seem at odds as he took on the role of Robin, it actually served him and his father Bruce Wayne well, as well as Damian turning his time as Robin to Dick Grayson during his time as Batman. Originally created by Mike Barr and Jerry Bingham in the excellent Elseworlds series Batman: Son of the Demon back in 1987, the result of a secret tryst between Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, the daughter of one of Wayne’s chief foes Ra’s al Ghul. Raised under Ghul’s tutelage and without the knowledge of Wayne, Damian was genetically fine-tuned since his birth and trained as an expert warrior by Talia and the League of Assassins. Batman only became aware of Damian when he was dropped into his lap as a easily telegraphed way of striking at the core of Batman’s assuredness and fractured sense of family.

In a relatively short time in terms of comics continuity, Damian Wayne grew from being a thorn in the Bat-family’s side to becoming one of its most trusted agents. Grant Morrison, who brought the character into the fold in 2006, even wrote several tales of a future timeline in which Damian would eventually assume the role of Batman himself. But with his recent death in the pages of Batman Inc. #8 that looks all for naught — or is it? Just this week DC announced it was exploring the idea of Damian surviving in an alternate universe take by Andy Kubert called Damian: Son of Batman, so the story of the prodigal son of Batman may still have some life left in it.

In this week’s Where Do I Start?, we look at the relatively short comics life of Damian Wayne, from serving as Robin to two Batmans, to his own adventures on his own and even in that stark future where he takes the mantle of Batman himself. You can postulate all you want about the idea of Damian Wayne returning from the dead, but with all these great comics out there in single issues, digital comics and collected editions, he can never truly die.

Batman & SonBatman & Son: Although Damian technically debuted in the Elseworlds Batman: Son of the Demon series, this is the first proper introduction to Damian as a character as opposed to a MacGuffin. In this story by Morrison and Andy Kubert, Wayne is coming off an extended period operating almost exclusively as Batman with little no no downtime. After advice from Alfred and then-current Robin Dick Grayson, Wayne takes some time to be a simple Gotham socialite but ends up with a new kind of a problem: a kid. Like some twisted early 80s Steve Guttenberg comedy, Damian is thrust on the unsuspecting Bruce Wayne with full knowledge of his father’s secret identity. And Bruce, with his own unique sense of family, takes in Damian into the fold relatively quickly — despite Damian’s temerity as the heir to both the Wayne and Batman’s legacy. It’s a rollicking story and a quintessential tale for both Wayne’s, showing new sides to Bruce and just how different — and alike — Damian is to his father. This also includes the flash-forward one-off story from Batman #666, showing Damian alive and stepping into his father’s role as Batman. Damaged by the death of his father (like his father before him), Damian-as-Batman employs harsher tactics than the Batman we know. This futuristic tale shows Damian at odds with Commissioner Gordon — in this case, Barbara Gordon — and also with an unlikely ally in terms of the Devil in order for an immortal life to protect Gotham eternally.

Batman/Superman #77: This one-off story by Joshua Williamson and Ale Garza might have been forgotten by DC’s collections department, but not by me. Although verging on silliness, this unlikely team-up between Supergirl and the diminutive Damian. If you think Damian got on the nerves of the Bat-Family, wait until you see how he is against Supergirl.

Batman Superman #77Batman & Robin Annual #1: This great little ditty in this year’s Batman & Robin Annual really hit the nail on the head about how unique Damian is to the Batman books and the DCU in general. Written by Peter Tomasi (who was Morrison’s editor during Batman & Son) and drawn by Ardian Syaf is a positively Home Alone-esque take where Damian is left alone at Wayne Manor with all of the devices it — and the Batcave — has to offer. Quickly clad in his father’s Batman garb, the younger Master Wayne goes out into Gotham as Batman in a stunning parody of his father — and Christian Bale’s portrayal of batman in the recent movies. This story isn’t available in any collection, but is an easy find on its own in print or digitally.

Batman Incorporated (Vol. 2): Although the original Batman, Inc. series was a Batman & family type book, the 2012-era Batman Inc. series post “New 52” was squarely a Batman & Robin team-up adventure with Bruce and Damian — father and son — working as a tight-knit crew. Although it ultimately ends with Damian’s death in #8, the issues before and after show just how memorable Damian is for readers and for his fellow characters. The first six issues have been collected as Batman, Inc.: Demon Star, and the subsequent ones should be collected relatively shortly.

Batman & Robin, Vol. 1: Batman Reborn: These first six issues of Dick Grayson’s time as Batman is as the story title suggests, “Batman Reborn” — but it’s also Robin reborn as well. Although Damian had taken the title before briefly, this arc by Morrison and artists Frank Quitely and Philip Tan show Dick and Damian working as a well-oiled team, using their differences as positives in their war on crime. Don’t tell Bruce this, but this is the best Batman & Robin team ever.


  1. Nice list. Personally, I’d say go until at least 12 on Batman and Robin though. Damian’s confrontation with Talia in that issue provides a good turning point in his progression as a character, and sets the stage for Incorporated.

  2. If you don´t know, it’s ready to happen a rooftop: Fan-Art Friday: Damian Wayne / Robin

    stay tunned

  3. A good list. I also really enjoyed that Batman & Robin Annual, not only for Damian, but there’s some nice character work with Bruce and Alfred as well. I need to track down that Supergirl issue some day, it flew under my radar when it came out.

    I would also recommend the Stephanie Brown/Batgirl, Damian team-up. It was a single issue of Batgirl, though I cannot recall the number off the top of my head. Watching the two interact was a lot of fun (and no, it does not go that smoothly).

    • It’s issue 17. Check out issues 5-7, too, for more great Steph and Damian awesomeness! It’s the 2009-2011 series of Batgirl, by the way. Man, Bryan Q. Miller wrote a great Damian. These are very fun issues; not dark like a lot of the Bat-universe tends to be.

    • Thanks, HolidayHaley; I thought that there had been more than one Damian issue, but wasn’t positive. I miss Steph & her Batgril series; it was truly great.

  4. If you’re thinking of picking up the Batman & Son trade, you might wanna get the Batman: The Black Glove deluxe edition instead. It includes all of Batman & Son, plus the original Black Glove collection. Basically, you get seven more issue, in an oversized hardcover, for not that much more.

  5. Batman and Son was probably my favorite part of Morrison’s Bat-run. Nothing after that compares to it IMO, and I’ve read up to Batman Inc volume 2.

    Damian was such a great character, I immediately fell in love with the character. I’m a sucker for father/sun stories (which if you ask me, comics could use a little more of. But thats just me) so I could really relate to Damian and Bruce’s interaction. I think his best quality was that he shoke things up, as himself or Robin or Batman’s Son. I look forward to finally reading the time he joined the Teen Titans (I know it didn’t last, but I can’t help imagining all the hijinks he’d cause).

    I’m unsure of Kubert’s writing talent, and I’m alittle burned out on Batman in general, but I want to check out the first issue of his Damian mini-series. A very interesting future take on Batman, it’d be a shame to see it gather dust…

  6. To really appreciate this great character I think you have to read Morrisons entire Batman run + Tomasis Batman and Robin + the first two trades/hardcovers of Streets of Gotham by Paul Dini, which is kinda a forgotten gem of a series. It features great confrontations between “Bruce Wayne”Hush and Damian (like when he exploded Hush out of a moving elevator to talk to him) and a really great story of a child fighting ring by Victor Zsasz, how the death of kids affect Damian and how he confronts Zsasz without Batman in a knife fight. GOOD STUFF! Sadly the series ended with a whimper. I think thats the reason noone remembers it.

    • I enjoyed Streets of Gotham overall, but did think that story-wise it fell off towards the end. Personally, I thought that the Hust arc went on a little too long. That quibble aside, I did enjoy the series. You’d think that with all the Batbooks floating around out there right now, DC could find one for Dini. His work on Detective was great as well.

      Oh yeah, and Streets wasn’t hurt by some great Nguyen art . . .

    • I think Dini’s busy helping Disney wreck the Marvel characters in cartoon form. He’s fallen to the dark side…

  7. Damian wasn’t a teenager. He was 10 when he showed up, and 11 when he died.

  8. Thanks for this.

    Just got interested in the character.