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.
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!