Damn, what an ending: Who’d have thought Damian would take a dirt nap come issue’s end?
Oh… I, uh, should have preceded that with a Spoiler Warning, huh? Sorry about that.
Except I’m not one sorry one bit. Because unless you’re living on the northern shore of Walden Pond, you know that DC and Grant Morrison already dropped that bomb on us several days ago. Whether you agree with their gimmicky decision of brazen disclosure or not, there’s one thing we all can agree on: DC execs are seeing dollar signs because it’s sales spike time. Good for them.
But now it’s time we decide… Is It Good?
Batman Incorporated #8 (DC Comics)
Morrison starts us off with an act of heroism so grandiose, so spectacular, that even if we hadn’t been spoiled beforehand the foreshadowing dispensed here might have been proof enough of the misfortune to come.
We’re talking Damian swooping in, Bat-armored up, with guns blazing (literally) to save Dick Grayson and Commissioner Gordon from the howling throngs of demented Leviathan tykes:
Don’t worry, it’s not child abuse: The little bastards had it coming.
As the battle rages to the Thalia-controlled Wayne Tower, wherein Red Robin (Tim Drake) is preoccupied with saving Ellie, Dick and Damian come face to face plate with the Heretic:
You can already tell how this fight’s going to go.
Through what is ostensibly Dick and Damian’s last throwdown by each other’s side, Morrison exemplifies why he’s in the upper echelon of Batman writers by reinforcing the incredible synergy the two share, despite their opposing demeanors:
It’s a Kodak moment.
Morrison told the NY Post in the recent spill-all interview that “He [Robin] dies an absolute hero.” Dude wasn’t lying. Despite the fact I haven’t been this choked up since Optimus Prime went down swinging in Transformers: The Movie (1986), it’s evident that Damian’s story had to end like this.
A recurring motif of Morrison’s Batman works which culminates here is Damian as a symbol for why proficiency, as polished and impressive as it might be, is not enough to embody the mantle of the Bat. Despite Damian’s hubris and exceptional skill, he is still only a child with a special case of naivete. Though precocious in many respects, his lack of compassion and altruism (qualities his father Batman, and the rest of the Bat-family possess) are his greatest encumbrances.
Through the counsel of the Bat-family, and Dick especially, we began to see the little guy turn it around, though obviously not soon enough. Cases of unrealized potential like this are what make saying goodbye to characters like Damian so difficult.
“Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.”
The issue ends with Batman in an all-too familiar pose and another important character’s reaction to Damian’s death. I wanted to share that indelible image with you here, but on behalf of keeping some mystery, I leave you instead with this befitting quote:
“Here is the anguish of mortality. Hopes wrecked, love sundered. See the mother sorrowing. How everything that I was warned of’s come to pass.” — Cormac McCarthy
- Chris Burnham’s art perfectly complements Morrison’s quirky style as usual.
- Action-packed, fun-filled ride.
- Milestone issue.
- Would have been better for me if I wasn’t spoiled.
Is It Good?
Yes. Although DC divulging the issue’s conclusion is a bit of a letdown and screams “desperate marketing plea,” Morrison continues to craft a story that is worthy of celebration. Also, the glaring unambiguity surrounding Damian’s death make me think Morrison is throwing a red herring our way (Heretic is a clone, there’s a little ol’ thing called a Lazarus Pit), as he’s not usually one to institute shock value for the sake of shock value.
This issue opens up myriad possibilities as well as questions: Will Damian come back to life? How? If not, will he be replaced? Will we see the return of a familiar character in his stead? Whose reaction to the death will evoke more pathos, Bruce’s or Dick’s? The next installment of Batman Incorporated can’t come soon enough.