DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN DELUXE EDITION by Andy Kubert
Collects Damian: Son of Batman #1-4, Batman #666
Last week, I said that Nightwing was my favorite male supporting character from the Batman family when I reviewed his most recent trade paperback. However, you may also remember that I said Dick Grayson wasn’t my favorite to take up the Robin mantle and that was a discussion for another day. Well, today is that day. It’s a highly appropriate time to bring it up because my favorite Robin is the main character in this week’s book for review: Damian Wayne. He brings a certain intensity to the Boy Wonder persona and has a relationship with Batman unlike any other and not just because he’s his son. Though that does help.
Before we discuss the contents of the story, it’s important to address that this book is not canonical with The New 52. It’s an out of continuity story that Andy Kubert conceived of back in 2008, but was not able to get around to until recently. If you haven’t read the bulk of Grant Morrison’s run, especially Batman and Robin, fret not because this doesn’t follow any of that. The only possible required reading for this is Batman and Son. In case you haven’t read even that, Kubert wisely devotes some time to catching up the reader and going through the basics of what you need to know about Damian. Kubert does an alright job when it comes to the writing side of things, but he’s a far better artist. That will probably sound crueler than I intended, but it’s true. I suppose that artists may want to cross the aisle and test their medal as a wordsmith at some point in their lives. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. Regardless of how you may feel about Kubert’s writing skills, you have to admit that he always brings his A-game when it comes to illustrating.
As I start to discuss the story itself, be forewarned that some spoilers are on the way; sometimes there’s no way around them.
We join Damian when he’s an older teenager, still Robin. Anytime he’s shown beyond childhood, I can’t help but hear Kevin Conroy’s voice when reading for him. He is supposed to be the spitting image of his father, right? Before he can become Batman, he must endure some requisite tragedy. Not long into the story, Batman dies in an explosion. The surprise here is that the Batman that kicks the bucket is none other than Dick Grayson. It turns out Bruce is still alive, retired, and reveals himself to reprimand Damian for going on a little killing spree. Apparently Damian is more than willing to take down anyone who may have possibly murdered Dick. This leads to them fighting each other with the resulting outcome nearly pushing this interpretation of Damian into unlikable territory. At least it causes him to become very repentant, leading to the truly awesome moment that sees him don his personalized Batman costume for the first time.
Other highlights include the Alfred/ Cat thread that I won’t detail too much because you have to see it for yourself. It’s left a little ambiguous and begins when Damian has endured some possible brain damage. We also see a new Joker emerge near the climax of the story. We may never learn of his origins because there’s a surprise return that could possibly be explored in the future. They also wisely included the modern classic originally printed in Batman #666, which was the first Damian/ Batman story ever told. It made for a nice epilogue to this coming of age story. As an added bonus, an excerpt from Batman #700 is also included, which sees Damian/ Batman save baby Terry McGinnis from 2 Face 2!
If you’re a fan of Damian Wayne, especially stories in which he takes up the mantle of Batman, give this book a try. I also recommend this book for anyone who is into “what if?” scenarios and Elseworlds titles. I’m aware that this story received a fair bit of criticism when it was originally being released as a mini-series, but I appreciate it a bit more due to the aforementioned reasons. It’s not a perfect book and it certainly was a more satisfying read in one sitting. Score: 7.5/10