Friday Favorite: Damian

Small, mighty, and mouthy. Art by Minuiko.

No, I’m not kidding.

It’s no secret that I’m a Robin(s) fan, but perhaps even more than Jason Todd, Damian Wayne is controversial among the Bat-faithful. There’s no middle ground with him, and the readers who loathe him really loathe him. I understand that because, let’s be honest; Damian is — to borrow a word from our British friends — a little sod. He’s profoundly arrogant, entitled, and rude to his colleagues (including dear Alfred). Though he’s a fearless fighter who can hold his own with the big boys, he isn’t quite as skilled as he thinks. Like a typical 10-year-old boy, he has zero impulse control. Let’s not forget that he once tried to murder Tim Drake, chopped off a villain’s head, and then bagged it like a cabbage.

It’s because of these jaw-dropping moments that Damian — a character from the fertile mind of Grant Morrison — is one of DC’s most riveting players. Raised by Mother of the Year Talia al-Ghul and trained to be a ruthless killer, he’s … troubled. Imagine being a genius kid with world-class combat and tactical abilities, but no healthy socialization and Ra’s for a grandfather. You’d be effed up, too, and probably not so good with people. (Alfred pointed this out after Dick fumed about his angry little sidekick.) Damian isn’t lovable, but lovable doesn’t always mean “interesting.” All I ask is that a character not bore me, and Damian never does — at least, not when he’s written well. There have been some missteps along the way, like painting him more as a one-note twerp than a complicated antihero. However, several writers have since found the right balance of aristocratic jerkdom, insecurity (he’s deeply jealous of Tim), overcompensating swagger, and an ever-so-slight bit of heart. The boy has really taken to Dick’s Batman, and even considers him a friend. He rejected his mother’s attempts to bring him back into the villain fold, so he’s made a deliberate, difficult decision to go legit.

Grandpa, don't send amateurs to fight me.

For the uninitiated, here are a few of Damian’s greatest hits:

“Don’t patronize me, or I’ll break your face.”

“A giant Superman/Batman robot? That might be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“She’s annoying. May I cut out her tongue?”

“The apocalypse is canceled. Until I say so.”

(To Rose Wilson) “I must admit – you’re far more capable than I imagined, given that you only have one eye.”

“That’s soooo incredibly interesting. I can’t wait to Tweet it.”

“I can cripple you from here.”

(To Stephanie Brown, while carrying her): “Maybe they should call you ‘Fatgirl.’ ”

I don’t love Damian per se, but whenever I see his scowling presence in a comic book, I know I’m going to be greatly entertained. Good luck with that, Bruce!

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11 thoughts on “Friday Favorite: Damian

  1. Love the lil’ bastard so much. He’s fast becoming my favourite ever Robin (Dick and Jason only became interesting once they hung up the red, yellow and green, in my opinion).

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  2. I don’t care what anyone says, I LOVE ME SOME DAMIAN! :)
    I love Tim, and Dick and I feel such sadness for Jason but Damian is my Robin.
    Thanks for this E, and for that lovely painting of him.
    To be honest I would so love to see how he would regard Diana/WW, she could handle him readily, and I think that he would like her but not admit it.
    And I want to see Bruce actually be a father to him. :)

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  3. I love Damian as a character, probably because he’s so irritating. I think he’s got that bit of snark where he says the things you want to say, but don’t because it’s rude/childish. Also, the depth of his character- the emotional trauma, etc., inflicted on a child is just interesting to see played out. It’s seeing that insecurity about his father and the way people treat him played out by a very agresssive, but genius, kid. He’s an insanely interesting character! And anytime I see him on the cover of a comic book, even one I’m not following the continuity of, I’m compelled to by it because it’s new insight into this profoundly multi-faceted character.
    Tim is still *my* Robin, but Damian comes in a not-too-far-behind (I wouldn’t call it close, though) second. I hated Damian at first, mainly because of his nearly killing Tim and being such a jerk, but I the kid grows on you. :P

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  4. Agree with all these points. His unfiltered quality makes me laugh every single time, and he genuinely wants to do a good job. His jealousy of Tim is kinda deep, because he wants that level of acceptance — and believes it is his birthright.

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  5. It almost sounds like the writers are building him up for his eventual, inevitable heel-turn. He starts out with everybody disliking him, but over the years he tries to make the hero-thing work and you grow to love the kid. So when he does go bad, it cuts that much deeper. I don’t mean to rain on the proverbial parade, but don’t get too attached to him. I predict the jealousy over Tim and the “birthright” thing is going to play into his downfall. It looks like DC is setting him up to be Tim’s arch nemesis, like Mr. J is to Bruce, his antithesis. That’s my prediction, straight from the hermetically-sealed envelope.

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  6. I don’t think that he will go bad, he may get tempted but he won’t go bad that has been done with Jason and it is a tired story line. Damian will be the ultimate prodigal son with a side of epiphany I see him eventually declaring war on his grandfather and mother. Besides Craig you once said that you rooted for the underdog, where is your support of wee Damian hiding? ;)

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    • I’m also a jerk and love to push people’s buttons. But that aside, I really think DC is setting things up for the future. If you look to anime series, there’s usually a villain, a cool loner, who ends up getting betrayed or dumped by the other villains and ends up being a hero. There was always one in the Digimon series (that show made my teeth itch), more than once on the Power Rangers. Even Darth Vader followed this pattern.

      Then you’ve got the reverse. The hero who comes from darkness, who may even become best friends/rivals with the main protagonist. But there’s something that’s not quite right with the kid, even from the beginning. You grow to love him and root for him because he may sacrifice everything to do the right thing. Eventually though, it catches up with him. Maybe brainwashing, maybe tragedy, maybe lust for power, whatever the cause, the outcome ends up sucking hind tit for the protagonist. His/her best friend becomes his worst enemy. Naruto seems to be the go-to for this one with the relationship between Naruto and Sasuke. Anakin Skywalker in episodes I through III is another example (okay so he redeems himself in episode VI, but does it make up for slaughtering the entire student body and staff of Jedi Elementary Coruscant District 1?)

      I’m not trying to be an ass….well okay, just a little bit, I’m just saying I’ve got a really bad feeling about this kid. I’d have the ultimate respect for the writers at DC if they actually followed through on this too. Have him finally kill Bruce, let Dick take over for reals this time, and you’ve got the biggest rivalry possibly in the history of the title. Damian al Ghul vs. Batman. Think about it.

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      • I really like Anakin in the Clone Wars series. He’s still kind of a dick, but a tolerable one who uses his powers for good. That’s a long way from slaughtering children! That’s why I’m warming to Damian. He has a lot of sharp edges, but there’s some goodness there, too. And there’s nothing wrong with a little button-pushing! Your Damian vs. Batman conclusion is very, very smart. It would be ON.

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  7. Pingback: Heartbreak in Gotham | Girls Gone Geek

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