Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 02.27.2013 – Batman, Incorporated #8

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Avg Rating: 4.6
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Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Chris Burnham & Jason Masters
Colors by Nathan Fairbairn
Letters by Taylor Esposito
Cover by Chris Burnham & Nathan Fairbairn
Variant Cover by Chris Burnham & Nathan Fairbairn

Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

I have had a love/hate relationship with Damian Wayne.

In the beginning, when he first appeared at the start of Grant Morrison’s years long Batman story, I hated him. Despite having read and having been a big fan of Batman: Son of the Demon, I did not like the idea of Bruce Wayne having a child. I always liked that he was attempting to fill the hole in his heart left by the loss of his biological family with vengeance and with his adopted family. I felt that element was important. When Damian was introduced, things in Bruce Wayne’s world shifted quite a bit. Much like the current season of Community, everything looked the same but everything felt just slightly… off. By the time we got to the middle of Morrison’s Batman story, Bruce Wayne was “dead” and Dick Grayson wore the cape and cowl and he took young Damian Wayne under his wing to try to mold him into a better person and a better Robin. And suddenly, I loved the kid! He was great! His obstinate arrogance was funny especially when played off against Alfred Pennyworth and Dick Grayson, two of the least pretentious characters in comics. He was a treat to be around. But like all good things, that came to an end. Damian started popping up all over the DCU and under the pen of less talented writers who didn’t understand the character as well, Damian was back to being an angry little snot who was unpleasant to be around. Then Bruce came back as Batman and Damian’s relationship with his father wasn’t as interesting as his relationship with his older adopted brother. The change-over to The New 52 really drove home the problem of Too Many Sidekicks and suddenly a 10 year old son felt really out-of-place in the world of a now younger Bruce Wayne. I think that’s one of the many reasons that I’ve responded to Snyder and Capullo’s Batman so much more than the other Batbooks: Damian didn’t really fit in that world and he was used very sparingly. Over the past 7 years there have been many truly great highlights involving Damian Wayne, but for me there have been just as many, and probably more, lowlights.

The preceding paragraph is a bit long and a bit rambling and is entirely reflective of the kind of thoughts that have been going through my head ever since I first learned that Damian Wayne was set to die, and those thoughts and ruminations kicked into over-drive once I finished reading Batman, Incorporated #8.

Despite the fact that he was raised by Ra’s al Ghul and Talia al Ghul among The League of Assassins, Damian is more his father’s son than anything else. And though he would be loathe to admit it, Damian Wayne is— I’m sorry, was constantly striving to live up to the accomplishments of both his father and older “brothers.” All of that was on full display in this issue where Damian quite literally swooped in to save the day despite being ordered to stay out of harm’s way in the relative safe confines of the Batcave. With the fight between Batman, Incorporated and Talia’s Leviathan organization reaching its bloody crescendo, all hope for our heroes seemed lost. Batman was chained up inside a locked safe at the bottom of a pool, Nightwing and Commissioner Gordon were on the verge of being overrun by a mind-controlled mob of blood-thirsty children, and Red Robin was walking into a trap.

Enter Robin, flying in wearing rocket boots, and an armored suit equipped with glider wings, to rally the troops and turn the tide.

What followed were pages and pages of breathtaking  slam-bang action that, while highlighting Robin, still allowed for great moments for Nightwing and Red Robin. It also allowed for the team of artist Chris Burnham and colorist Nathan Fairbarn to put forth further evidence that they are among the best in the business. (Even artist Jason Masters who filled-in on the Red Robin segment, while quite clearly being Not Chris Burnham, still showed off a wonderfully fluid sense of movement and action.) Chris Burnham has been doing some astounding things with the art in this series—I’m thinking specifically of things like the brutal 20 panel page fight in this issue between Robin and his evil fully grown clone—and once it’s over he definitely deserves to be put on a top book. His work is absolutely stunning and exudes a slightly off-kilter and twisted personality that is perfect for the dark world of Gotham City.

The climax of the issue was perfectly presented. When the moment finally came and Damian Wayne was run-through with a sword it shattered Batman’s world, and that was reflected on the page, quite literally, as the panels showing Batman escaping from his watery death trap and trying in vain to make it Robin in time were shown to break away like a shards of broken glass. Those broken shards continued to hover around Batman on the next page as he held the bloody and lifeless body of his 10 year old son in his arms. Despite the fact that I no longer really cared for the character and knew his death was coming, the visual imagery was so fantastic that it hit me hard.

Where we go from here and whether or not this death opens up a whole new character-crippling can of worms for Batman is something we’ll have to deal with moving forward. But for now we have this issue that so wonderfully closes out a 7 year character arc for Damian Wayne and sends him to that Dead Superhero Waiting Room in the sky in truly heroic fashion.

It’s odd timing that Damian Wayne should die so soon after the conclusion of “Death of the Family” over in Batman, a story that, much to the consternation of many readers, did not actually end in any deaths. But really, how could anyone other than Grant Morrison have been tasked to end Damian’s story? How satisfying would that have been? As a wise Brooklyn doctor once said,“I brought you in this world and I’ll take you out!”

Conor Kilpatrick
Honestly, Community is just WEIRD now.
conor@ifanboy.com


Comments

  1. This was just awesome, very worthy of PotW

    The bottom two panels of page 12 (with Damian and Dick) were so great that it hit me even harder when the last couple of pages happened, even though I knew they were coming.

  2. Agreed. This felt like a near perfect issue and the right way for Damian’s story to end.

    I just watched the Halloween episode of Community and really enjoyed it. Perhaps not as much as I did last year, but quite a bit.

  3. While it’s easy to malign this as just another comic book death, I think there’s something different about a parent losing a child. That metaphorical death of the family from the main bat book gets real over here in a way that I think opens up a lot of interesting avenues going forward, and I like the feint of everyone thinking it was going to happen somewhere else.

    (And I love it but Community is REAL weird now.)

  4. You’re right Connor, Community is weird now. Oh and Damian Wayne and stuff

  5. That page with Nightwing and Robin was glorious and brutal. It reminded me of the amazing lighting in a bottle that was their tenure as the Dynamic Duo.

    RIP, you little bastard. Here’s hoping it’s all a ruse and Batman is sending you to live with a nice family somewhere, Angel style.

    Also, yes, Community is waaaaay weird now. Mainly because it’s not as weird as before…

  6. I for one totally agree what Conor says about Community. Oh, and this comic. RIP Damian.

  7. So is DC going to drop the ball on this one? I hope their are long lasting ramifications. This better not just be them hitting the reset button or I’m going to feel cheated and very angry.

  8. Damien and Dicks scene was excellent. Damien telling Dick that he was always his favorite partner was such a good closure moment for the pair and made me truly miss and appreciate their short run together. Well done Mr. Morrison.

  9. Paragraph #2 is awesome.

  10. I’m sad to see damian go, but it’s probably for the best. No one writes him like morrison does.

  11. Wonderful review. I do have to kindly disagree with you Conor when you said “Then Bruce came back as Batman and Damian’s relationship with his father”. I think Batman and Robin with Tomasi and Gleason has been one of the best things to happen to Batman. The Father and Son dynamic between the emotionally distant father and the son who just wants his approval has made that book shine even brighter than Snyder’s run at times. That’s just me. Too many sidekicks…maybe. Damian was the best.

    • I agree here 100%. Batman and Robin has been an absolute joy. To quibble over slight characterization differences is to miss the forest for the trees.

    • 100 percent agree here as well. I seem to remember Loving Morrison’s original batman and robin run and then dropping it when whoever took over took over (was that tomasi then too? i think so).. anyway if those early issues of tomasi ? werent very good.. they certainly werent the new 52 batman and robin tomasi issues. They were at least as entertaining as snyders batman to me. It seems like some had already made up their minds though. If you didnt read it how would you know? Sucks to see damien dead (and unlike other comic deaths this one is permanent.. and im not just saying that because there have been articles posted previously that state that if you think death in comics is permanent then you dont know comics). This time its permanent. Ill get over it though.. ha.

    • The death just seems so cheap and for the sake of sales. I’m hoping that over the next four issues we’re given some story that is worth getting rid of a character and that it wasn’t all for sales and in the name of making the Robin situation easier. The issue handled the death well because he had a glorious death but how much more ‘jaded’ and violently revenge filled can The Batman get? Isn’t the character, at his core, about revenge and justice for a family members death?

      I’m hopeful we’ll get something more out of this but it feels more like editorial not wanting characters to grow and less like the final crescendo on Morrison Opus. I hope I’m proven wrong.

    • @Markavo Morrison has said that this story is used to show the conflict of divorce, and what it does to the kids involved, “Quit. Fighting with. Father!” I think it’s been planned for awhile. There wasn’t any hype until about week before. No “Death of Damian” mega-crossover. I’m looking forward to the next few issues. Seems like all parties are affected. Talia has taught Bruce a lesson that I’m not sure she wanted to teach. I don’t think we will see a jaded revenge filed Bruce, but like anything, I could be wrong.

    • I agree, the new 52 Batman and Robin was good, and occasionally great. I miss it already. I wish they’d killed Tim Drake instead. He’s useless in the new 52. Ok, it wouldn’t have the divorce metaphor, but at least we’d be rid of that awful costume

    • @markavo-
      Grant Morrison has stated in interviews that Damian’s death was intended from the start. It still sucks, ’cause I thought Damian was great (especially with Dick as Batman), but it’s a relief to know Damian wasn’t killed for sales purposes, or because DC wants to “clean house” with the Bat-books.

    • Well i havent read the death issue yet. I get my comics by mail order. Ive managed not to find out how he dies.. but i was hoping it wasnt a Ben Reily pointless death. I dont mind a character dying doing something heroic. Melting into a pile of goo is the worst. Regardless of what morrison originaly intended.. damien’s character grew into one that doesnt feel disposable to me. Now if dakken was killed i think i might cheer. and i agree about Tim Drake kind of. I was a huge chuck dixon Robin fan years ago but Red Robin didnt do it for me… and i feel that Tim’s story has been told way too long. I guess they had to kill somebody with Jason running around again. Frankly i wish Jason was never brought back.. that would solve the problem for me. Of course i dont have a time machine.

    • @TheAgeingYoungRebel – I very much agree with you. Damian was a unique character with a unique role in Batman’s world. Tim Drake, however, compared with everyone else in the Bat Family, is milquetoast. Correction: milquetoast dressed like a chicken. God I hate Tim’s cape. And his stupid “Red-Robin-but-not-the-restaurant-chain” name.
      Damian Wayne, RIP.
      It should’ve been Tim.

  12. I love the Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable quote at the end.

  13. It’s true, most writers haven’t handled Damian well besides Morrison, but HUGE PROPS should be given to Bryan Q. Miller who wrote some of the best Damian stories in the Stephanie Brown Batgirl series. And honorable mention goes to J.T. Krul, who built a nice relationship between Damian and Ravager in Teen Titans.

    RIP Damian. You will be missed.

  14. Apart from the fill in pages I really enjoyed this issue. Not that Masters pages were bad; but they ruined the flow of what Burnham was delivering….which was kick-ass.

    I’m going to assume Talia is going to bite the dust as well. I can’t imagine how Bruce can just allow her to live after killing their son like that.

  15. He will just get resurrected in the Lazarus pit like his grandpa! Do you people not read comics?

  16. Chris Burnham has been a great addition to the stable of artist that Morrison has teamed with throughout his multiple title spanning Batman run but I would have loved to have seen Frank Quitely return for at least those 6 pages in which dick and Damian have their final team-up.

    They were certainly the best… No matter what anyone thinks.

  17. Cowards! That little brat died like a G, almost Boys in the Hood style. Granted it was a 10 year old gangster that wanted his mom to call off her goon, but the way he threw his hood on, and the context (right after he and “Richard’s” heart to heart, and then kicking ass with a fractured leg), PERFECT. That bad-ass fight page showed the many sides of Damian. Well done to all. My son is almost 3 and he has cut outs from Previews of Batman and Robin on his door. It is so much more than the death of a Robin. I’ve loved the way he’s been written of late and am all for a comeback. If not, I’ll look back on these Damian years as something that much more special. Excellent POTW.

  18. The right pick.

    Community is now nearly as terrible as Big Bang Theory.

  19. Morrison showing Snyder how it’s done!

  20. That battle scene between Damian and the Grown Clone was brutal. Very well done Mr Burnham. One page made me miss Morrison writing Dick and Damian. I wish we had gotten more of that ….

  21. Perfect pick. I think youre absolutely right about the charactershighs and lows…but that seemed kind of “realistic”..he had tobe a brat and then be redeemed. Morrison showed here just how much he gets these characters…i almost shed a tear at Damians exchange with Dick. Kid died a hero in the end and it was perfect. >tt<

  22. While I can’t dispute that this was well done, to me, this symbolizes so much of what is wrong with continuity in comics.

    Gleason and Tomasi have been writing an excellent Batman and Robin/ Bruce and Damian book, and now they won’t be able to continue that.

    I never liked that characters with multiple books had to be in the same universe. Morrison wants to kill Damian? Fine, then there is no Damian in Batman Inc. Snyder wants to introduce Harper as a Robin-like character in Batman? Fine. But why change what has been working so well in the Gleason and Tomasi’s Batman and Robin title?

  23. This was indeed a fantastic issue (but when it comes to Batman Inc, aren’t they all??). My POW as well.

    The Robin/Nightwing scene was the definite highlight for me. It reminded me how amazing that original Morrison Batman & Robin run truly was. I know DC was chomping at the bit to get Bruce back in the cowl officially, but personally I could have read at least another 3-4 years of that team. It was a fantastic spin on the old Batman & Robin dynamic. And from what i’ve heard in Morrison interviews, he was more than a little disappointed that the Dick-as-Batman status quo didn’t last longer than it did. I think he had plenty more ideas to play with there, it’s just a shame we didn’t get to see them

  24. @Conor You’re totally right, Community IS just weird now. That last Inspector Spacetime convention episode had me yelling at the TV: “THIS IS NOT MY COMMUNITY!”

    • The one and a half episodes of this season that I’ve made it through have given a chilling resonancy to the clich “a pale imitation of itself.” Reminds me of the first post-Sorkin season of the West Wing. The show was able to recover somewhat for the final two seasons with the Alan Alda/Jimmy Smits stuff, but the Bartlett stuff was never the same.

  25. Loved it. I am a big Damian fan, so this is bittersweet. It would have been a lot better though if I was going into this issue clueless as to the spoilers. Unfortunitely the news was impossible to avoid as the mainstream media was covering this since Monday and they had NO spoiler warnings up at all.

  26. First off let me say this: “If DC is listening I still want my money back for calling into the original Death in the Family hotline to kill off Jason Todd.” If there was ever a character in the Batman universe that should have died and stayed dead it was Jason. That being said Damian grew on me like fungus and I went from hating his character to liking him and thought he was best when paired with Dick. Here is what I think everyone is forgetting and I could be wrong but sooner or later Booster Gold is gonna save the DC universe… Again. That’s right the gratest hero that no one knows will set this back to the point where Flashpoint triggered the new 52. The timeline is not right and there have been clues, first off Booster repeatedly tried to save Barbara Gordon from the Joker and was continualy thwarted because it was fixed point in time. Now agreed that time is a big ball of timey wimey wibbley wobbley stuff but we have also seen Booster realize that Superman and Wonderman should not be kissing right before he disappearedfrom the universe in JLI. While I have enjoyed alot of the new 52 comics I would not be sad to see the shift back to the original DC Multiverse and I think that DC and Geoff Johns are holding Booster off until they cannot justify the sales anymore. Long Live Booster, He’ll save everyone of us!

  27. DC should set up a 1 900 # again…. i have no doubt that he would be saved. man…. i cant believe this… this sucks. DC is just begging me to never buy any of their books again. fandom should get real loud and angry and make stickers and make posters and blanket comic shops with them…RETURN ROBIN!!

  28. If Morrison doesn’t bring Damian back himself, I hope they keep Damian off the board for a long while out of respect for Morrison’s story. Damian’s death needs to last long enough to give it weight. Also, I hope they use Damian’s death to their advantage. Things like the brutal fallout between him and Talia, exploring Bruce’s relationship with the other Birds, or Bruce meeting Helena, or bring Cassandra Cain back or Carrie Kelly. Let Bruce go through the journey of losing his son. There’s so much we can’t do because they’ve killed Damian, so let’s explore some of the things they can do now that he’s dead.

    • No big Two company has EVER respected the interesting status quos that Morrison has set up for ANY of their major characters with the exception of Jean Grey still not being resurrected. Cyclops and Emma have finally be Annulled Inc. by the Franchise Police.

  29. I didn’t read B&R much after the new 52 relaunch, but I never got a father-son vibe from Damian and Bruce. It seems to me that Dick and Damian were much closer than Bruce and Damian. I think Dick will be affected much more by Damian’s death than Bruce, hopefully the next few bat issues will reflect that, at least in the Nightwing book if no where else.

  30. I picked up this issue out of the blue, and haven’t been following Batman outside of Snyder’s title. Much like a friend saying, “hey listen to this awesome climax of this guitar solo”, absent of the slow build-up to the climax, it felt pretty empty. The art was amazing, but despite wanting to feel something, I didn’t. Which is certainly okay, and to be expected given my history with the character (there isn’t one, but I’ve liked the kid in general).

    Great choice for POTW, but the comic that hit me hardest this week was Uncanny Avengers # 4….man, Remender really poked my culture with a sharp stick, and I felt it!

  31. Very sad to see Damian go, curious what happens to the Batman and Robin title now? As others have said, it took Tomassi a while to get Damian right but I was really enjoying that book lately, especially the annual.

    • Yes! after Snyder’s Batman I picked up(and enjoyed) Tomasi and Gleason’s Batman & Robin regularly. What are the title wide ramifications? should be very interesting.
      To echo masonrad; I see a Lazarus Pit in the future, However, as much as it pains me it means NOTHING if he comes back too fast( I want a Barry Allen type absence)

    • @workingdead, For the immediate future it’s going to be a team up book for the bat-family, with the title changing arc to arc, next month starts two issues of Batman & Red Robin then it’s Batman & Red Hood then it’s something else. Tomasi has known this was coming for years. He was Morrison’s editor back at the start of the Damian story.

  32. Will Bruce kill Talia or allow her to die? I’m thinking something like the ending of Batman Begins; “I won’t kill you, but that doesn’t mean Im going to save you”.

  33. Butch robin and the moondance kid.

  34. I am MOST worried about the ramifications this has on poor Pennyworth. While Damian proved he could waltz out of the lockdowned cave on his own, Alfred did allow him to go. Will he feel responsible?

    Also what will happen to the growing Bat animal family?

  35. A little frustrated that because of the new 52 we’ll never see Stephanie Brown’s reaction to the death, they had such an interesting relationship.

  36. I loved the panel with the safe under the water and the raindrops on the surface of the pool. For some reason that was just captivating.

  37. After I finished my stack, this was clearly my POTW. Just so many moments woven in…and even though you know how it’s going to end, you still feel it. That’s good comics.

  38. Weirdest thing about “Community,” right now: the forced Britta and Troy relationship.

  39. I almost hated this issue because i know how much I’m going to miss this character. But, that just shows that Morrison is doing his job. I’ve been along for the ride from the very beginning and it’s kind of tragic to see it coming to an end. Especially since we are losing one of the best new characters to come along in mainstream comics for a long time… Also, Community is TOTALLY weird now.

  40. I may be a little confused, but I’m not 100% sure where Batman Inc falls in the continuity of The New 52. Is it set in the near future, distant future, alternate bat reality. Cuz if so, won`t we still get to see Damian in the Batman and Robin title, or is he going to disappear from them as well, and Batman, and any other Bat-Family books he decides to make appearances in? I guess to sum it up, I’m going to miss “Morrisons” Damian, but we still be moderately happy to see him in the other titles, if he gets to stick around for those.

    Community is so weird now, its like their hideous made the writers think they really had to bring the crazy now to make up for so much lost time.

    TROY AND ABED R.I.P. DAMIAN

  41. The original joke was by Bill Cosby in a comedy album and it went: “I brought you into the world – I’ll take you right out and make another one look just like you.”

  42. I thought his death was poorly executed, to be honest. When Damian was on the ground looking up at his clone, I expected to turn the page and see him get whatever he had coming. But it was all the way on the right side of the page, so it took a second before I got to it. By then, the connection with the prior page–Damian’s fear, looking up at his clone, and knowing what was about to happen–was lost.

  43. I call bullcrap on DC. You kill Robin not even one of the main Batman books? Greg has been killing it on Batman and Batman & ROBIN has been rock solid every month and yet you still decide to kill Robin in batman incorp? I refuse to buy this crap out of sheer principal.

    If Robin was gonna die, I want the best Artist/Writer doing the character justice, not some lame third tier Batman book hoping to boost sales.

    • How exactly is a Grant Morrison written Batman book a “third tier book”?

      Also, if you want “the best Artist/Writer” doing the character justice, that would be right here–Grant Morrison created Damian Wayne and has far and away written the best Damian of anyone.

    • Conner are you honestly going to say batman Incorp is a better book than Batman & Robin or Batman at this time? If so then I disagree.

    • For me BATMAN, INCORPORATED is way way better than BATMAN AND ROBIN and just behind BATMAN.