Introducing new characters into modern superhero comics is no small feat. Its not impossible, but certainly an outlier. When Grant Morrison introduced the son of Batman, Damian Wayne, in 2006, readers were instantly turned off. His grating personality and violent nature, coupled with peoples resistance to change, made him a hard sell. In short order, that perception changed, with Damian becoming one of the most popular characters in the Batman mythos.
Damian begins and ends with Grant Morrison. Introduced in properly in Batman #655, Damian was the lost son of Bruce and Talia al Ghul. Morrison took his inspiration from a then out of continuity graphic novel, Batman: Son of the Demon. In the story, Batman spent time alongside Ra’s al Ghul, not knowing the villains true colors. He and Ra’s daughter, Talia, fell in love, with her becoming pregnant. Seeing the effect on him, Talia lied, saying she miscarried. The child remained unnamed, becoming a relic.
Morrison brought this story into DCU proper. Talia had the child in secret, raising him in the League of Assassins, him becoming a proficient martial artist and deadly combatant. At the age of 10, he earned the right to meet his father. Talia introduced the two, Bruce learning of his existence for the first time. She left her son in his care.
Damian is an interesting addition to the Bat mythos as, unlike Bruce’s other children, he’s blood. Damian played off each of the previous Robins differently, and Bruce treated him differently than the rest. With Tim Drake, the current Robin, it was competitive. Damian wanted to immediately replace him, with the two constantly fighting, though Tim often won. His first action upon entering the cave was to subdue Tim, make himself a makeshift Robin costume, and venturing into the city, returning with head of a low level villain, Spook.
Jason Todd, who was an antagonist at the time, didn’t approve, shooting Damian on two separate occasions. The most interesting dynamic came from he and Dick Grayson, Bruce’s first son. After Bruce’s death, Dick took the mantel of the bat, with Damian becoming Robin for the first time. Dick was able to bring Damian to heel, curbing his overly violent tendencies. Damian even admitted that he viewed Dick as a brother. When Bruce returned, Damian stayed by Dick’s side until Dick was forced back into his Nightwing role with Bruce back in Gotham thanks to the New 52.
On several occasions, Damian was mortally wounded, needing organs replaced and even his spine regenerated. Talia would arrive, whisking him away to be magically healed. This was set up for the various clones Talia created in response to him siding with the Bat. An adult version of one these clones, Heretic, lead an assault against Gotham. The clone ran a sword through Damian, killing him, and ending Morrison’s Batman run. The fallout of his death was seen in a fantastic silent issue of Batman and Robin.
Damian is a fascinating character that proved difficult for others to write for outside of Morrison. Peter J. Tomasi did a fantastic job in Batman & Robin, as did Bryan Q. Miller in Batgirl. Playing him against Stephanie Brown, giving her an older sister role was genius, and fun. For me this only called to light how unforgiving Batman had been with Stephanie when she disobeyed orders, but let it slide when Damian murdered. Meh, comics.
There’s been a few other interesting different incarnations of the character. First was Mark Waid’s, who used the unnamed child in Kingdom Come, calling him Ibn al Xu’ffasch. This incarnation was seen in a few other elseworld stories, marrying Nightstar, the daughter of Starfire and Nightwing, and the two having a son and daughter. An inventive use was in the Injustice: Gods Among Us game and books, where Damian becomes Nightwing, siding with Superman.
Of course, the best alteration came from Morrison in Batman #666. Taking full advantage of the issue number, Morrison shows the future of Gotham where Damian is the Bat, using any and all means necessary in his war on crime. It’s implied that he sold his soul to the devil, gaining near immortality, able to heal near instantly from mortal wounds. This version was seen a few times, most notable in Superman/Batman #75 where Connor Kent is shown to be Superman, though the two do not get along.
The DC Animated feature, Son of Batman, retold Damian’s introduction tale, albeit poorly.
Damian Wayne is a solid character, defying modern expectations by adding to his supporting cast while growing favor with fans. Seeing him juxtaposed against the other children of Batman was a brilliant idea, adding a new dimension to the mythos. At least DC is still embracing their legacy, almost.
What was your favorite Damian moment (loved him with Supergirl)? Want a Batman #666 ongoing (aside from the crap Andy Kubert one)? Comment below!
“Father. I imagined you taller.”