Heartbreak in Gotham

Damian by Chris SamneeDamian haters, you got your wish.

The current Robin, beloved by G3 and created by Grant Morrison, dies today in Batman Incorporated #8. It’s not exactly a spoiler as the news has been blazing across the Internet like a giant Bat-signal.

Grant giveth and Grant taketh away.

We’ve written before about how rich a character Damian is and how he’d grown from an angry, murderous time bomb to a gifted, thoughtful hero — all while wrestling with a lifetime’s worth of issues that erupted from time to time. He evolved without ever losing the prickliness, unpredictability and hauteur that made him one of the best characters ever to grace a DC comic. He challenged Batman, his father, in ways that none of the Dark Knight’s previous charges had. Not even Jason Todd.

So this sucks on an epic scale.

Batman and Robin writer Peter Tomasi, who has done so well by Damian, spoke for a lot of fans when he told CBR his reaction upon getting the news: “I threw up my hands and yelled: ‘KHAAAAAN!’ ”

This being comics, it was tempting to think that there was some magical twist or that we all interpreted the news too literally. (“It’s a metaphorical death!”) But that was just wishful thinking.

While I’ll always love Dick and Tim, Damian brought something new and exciting to the Robin uniform. He was infuriating, brilliant, insecure, charming, ruthless, funny and fearless. Sometimes all in the same issue. At his core, he was a boy who wanted his father’s love and respect. He got both, plus a bunch of fans who delighted in his sharp retorts, almost casually breathtaking combat skills and rare moments of sweetness.

So now we ask you, dear readers. How do you feel about the character’s fate?

12 thoughts on “Heartbreak in Gotham

  1. D: I’d like to see how this plays out. Let’s see if DC makes the most of it and creates an indelible mark in the history books or if they drop the can of bat shark repellant.

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  2. I’ve heard a lot of fan theories that he’ll be coming back, in some way or another. Most people I’ve seen talk about it online would prefer Jason Todd to get killed off [again] in Red Hood and the Outlaws than have Damian permanently dead.

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  3. I am so sad to hear this as I adore Damian. He being Bruce Wayne’s blood and the fact that his mother and grandpa are just evil mental cases made him trying to what is right poignant for me.
    I am really beyond bored of comic book writers thinking that they are so edgy, clever and bigger than the characters they are given to write.
    Killing Damian to me is boring, hackneyed and derivative.
    And no do not get rid of Jason, he is interesting too!

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  4. I was very down on Damian when I first encountered him. He was snotty and obnoxious and reeked of being a writer’s pet. I don’t think I enjoyed his presence in a single comic book until he started showing up in Batgirl and Streets of Gotham. Still, as time went by and I warmed to him slightly, I could never quite forgive him forcing Tim out of the Robin costume. Deep in my heart I felt that Tim had done so much to become Robin, to make Robin something worth being, that it was wrong to turn it over to this horrible boy, based purely on his parentage.

    At some point though, I just gave up. Tim wasn’t coming back.

    That didn’t make me like Damian, mind you, but it let me process him as Robin. I spent a long time thinking of Damian and the three Robins. That might be unpopular, but it’s true. I didn’t acknowledge Damian because I disliked him and I still don’t acknowledge Stephanie Brown because she was never a person to DC, she was a marketing stunt. To me Jean-Paul Valley (my favorite Gotham hero) and Stephanie Brown are not the second Batman and the fourth Robin, because they were never intended to be those characters, they were part of a single story.

    What makes this interesting now is that Damian was only really Robin for one, extended story. That’s not true, he was Robin for a lot of stories, but he existed for the sake of this one. The problem here is that now he’s kind of an in-between character. After such a long term as Robin, there’s no debate that he counts, but should a Robin exist solely to die?

    I hear people say that Tim will be Robin again, and it doesn’t make me happy like it once would have. With the reboot in place, Tim was never Robin and, as he is now, I can’t see how he could ever be Bruce’s sidekick again.

    I’m hopeful that the rumors that Harper Row will take over are true, but, as for Damian, it’s strange. I never liked the kid, but it seems sad. Just because he didn’t bring enough to the role of Robin for me doesn’t mean he didn’t bring something unique to the Bat-Family.

    Morrison can be a fine writer, but he doesn’t often think about how his choices affect the worlds he’s working in. I hope this story was worth removing another loved character from Batman’s world.

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    • I loved your thoughtful and honest response. It took a while for Damian to grow on me, in part because he was so antagonistic toward Tim, who is my favorite Robin (relaunch be damned). However, I really warmed to him when he started working alongside Dick. He grew without being “redeemed” in some simplistic way to make him more palatable. His guest appearance in the pre-relaunch Teen Titans made me wish that he and Ravager had their own book! I’ll miss the hell out of the little guy, and I’d rather this be permanent than some cheap stunt that ends in the Lazarus pit.

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      • If the last issue of Batman Inc. comes out and Damian isn’t back I want him dead forever.

        I don’t read Batman Inc. so I have’t seen the whole issue yet, but I did really like his scene with Nightwing, even if it seemed a little bitter.
        in my opinion, the biggest shame is that Damian was largely wasted until recently. He didn’t make many appearances outside of Morrison’s work for a long time and was pretty constrained to Batman and Robin and Batman Inc. post reboot. But issues like Red Hood and the Outlaws 17 and Batman and Robin 11 proved that Damian’s relationships were still largely undefined. I think more people would be feeling sad about this if they had done more stories about he and Tim or he and Dick.

        In the end, it isn’t Damian’s fault. I never fully warmed to the little guy but the fact that the only times a truly and wholeheartedly disliked him were under Morrison’s pen implies that I could have. Damian spent all his time insisting that he was worthy of being Robin, both in his words and his actions, now we’ll see if Grant Morrison was worthy of adding to that legacy.

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  5. I guess I’m just a jaded old comic reader. The first thing that I thought of was … DC Comics killed Damian Wayne, Ra’s al Ghul’s grandson. The guy with all the Lazarus Pits. Someone start the Resurrection Clock. Let’s see how long it takes for them to bring him back.

    First, it’s comics. No one stays dead. Ask Barry Allen, Jean Grey, or Bucky Barnes,

    Second, the character is fairly popular. He’s J.R. Ewing, the character people love to hate. If I recall correctly, Dan Didio has a soft spot for Damian also. It’s just a matter of time until they bring him back. Maybe Grant will bring him back, or maybe someone else will bring him back later. However it will happen. They brought back Jason Todd and NO ONE liked him.

    Just the two cents of a jaded old fan.

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  6. I am bothered by death as a cheap stunt in the comic books, like in the opening of Blackest Night #1 (I think) when they killed Hawkman and Hawkgirl. I wasn’t even a fan of their characters and I couldn’t help thinking, “these were *someone’s* favorite characters.” and their death really had no purpose beyond shock value and to give the illusion that “anyone could die and become a zombie” (so long as they didn’t currently have a profitable running series and a hot issue creator wasn’t one of the ones who considered them a favorite.)

    The fact the Damien dies does not bother me. I am saddened by it. But I also know that it was the plan from the inception of the character. His death itself had some meaning. And he was allowed to go out in a good story. And it was a good story. (I hated the Batman Inc idea, but the story itself was good. I couldn’t put it down.) It is the human condition.

    So yes, again, I am sad that Damien died. I am also happy that I had a great Batman story to experience.

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    • It was a very good issue, I must admit. Brutal. There is some comfort in knowing that this was not a stunt but part of a well thought-out plan. I just loved the little guy, though he would scoff at the outpouring of sentiment! What I want to do now is find all those clues in Batman and Robin that Peter Tomasi talked about.

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