Has there ever been an addition as large and game changing as Damian Wayne to any comic book series? When you think about it most of the big heroes change very little or at least switch back to the norm after a year of a big idea (I’m looking at you Marvel), but Damian has created a new dynamic that’s changed the character in more ways than one. With Damian getting his own series collected this week, here are five reasons Damian Wayne is the biggest game changer in the last three decades of comics.
Robin: Son of Batman Vol. 1 (DC Comics)
1. He has the confidence of an al Ghul and the heart of a Wayne.
This series and previous ones have explored how Damian wants to do the right thing, but his arrogance and somewhat evil nature gets in the way at times. It’s most apparent when he’s fighting, which is interesting as it shows that when he lets loose and is aggressive, a darker side of him comes out. It’s a different dynamic from Batman, making him unique and not another Robin training up to be Batman. This in turn makes his relationships with characters from the Batman universe unique.
2. He has a screwed up childhood which comes with a full closet of skeletons.
His upbringing of course is a complicated one, largely due to the ideas Grant Morrison showcased in flashbacks. From fighting ninjas at six years old to fostering his clone brethren (who get some attention in this series) Damian has a lot of baggage to deal with. This makes him complex and rife for psychological storytelling.
One of the coolest aspects of this series was learning about how Damian had to accomplish many impossible tasks to become worthy. To rectify his actions and cleanse himself of the wrongdoings when he was still his mother’s minion, this series showcases how he puts it all back. It’s not until later in this volume that you learn there is a far darker, mystical and evil villain afoot and in some ways makes the actions of the al Ghul’s good in nature. I don’t want to spoil it, but it certainly makes you question Damian’s ties to his evil father.
3. This series highlights how Damian is split between real and magical worlds.
Maybe it’s the effect of the Lazarus Pit on his ancestors before him, but this series goes into some trippy places you wouldn’t expect to see Batman. From a giant red bat sidekick/pet to hanging out on a pretty fantastical homebase known as Al Ghul Island, Damian kicks it with some out-of-this-world elements. That makes this book feel a hell of a lot different than most Bat books, giving it a unique feel that’s worth checking out on principle alone! He’s not one to give up or be happy with the norm and instead rushes into battle, finding an edge that may end up being a red bat beast thing.
4. The series, and the character, has an Indiana Jones vibe.
This book traverses many locales, from Iceland to Egypt to all the way to South America, which makes it feel like a big adventure. By going around the world it also showcases different types of local enemies, which in turn make it feel as if we’re uncovering new cultures and region-specific bad guys. At the same time, maybe due to Damian’s size and overabundance of ego, he’s constantly in peril which heightens the threat in the action sequences.
5. He’s still just a kid.
His actions, arrogant demeanor, and ultimately his skills make it hard to remember he’s only a kid. It’s an element of his character that’s used here and there, but for the most part we’re supposed to take him as a valid adult level hero. When it suits the story however we’re reminded much of what he does is because of his father, mother and grandfather as he seeks approval. This of course is something children want more than anything and it makes the character feel more pure and genuine.
His bat friend is quite fun.
So is this book worth reading? For the five reasons above the answer is a big yes.
The book is not without faults as some chapters start in a confusing way but pull their threads straight eventually, or a lack of detail that makes the bigger picture too vague. The art is incredibly dramatic and fun, but at times claustrophobic with many panels too close to the action. On top of all that Batman is absent—he was dead for a while there though—but that dynamic is definitely missed.
That said, it’s an eclectic mix of stories due to its globetrotting nature and it consistently showcases a complex and human character underneath. Damian Wayne is a game changer after all.