As many of you know, I was NOT AT ALL happy when Damian Wayne died. So imagine how my interest piqued when it was announced that Andy Kubert, the artist who first drew Damian, would be writing and drawing a miniseries: Damian: Son of Batman. Taking place in a possible future, we see the seeds leading up to Damian’s possibly stepping into his father’s cape. So I have been eagerly awaiting this issue for months. Was it worth the wait? Is it a worthy return of the latest dead Robin?
Our story begins with Batman and Robin, father and son, investigating the mass murder of several vagrants, lying in a pile of fish. The Dark Knight and his now teenaged son repeatedly butt heads over behavior and methods as they investigate. When Batman looks closely, he sees that several of the fish are the infamous Joker Fish. Unfortunately, Batman sets off a trap that kills him. Weeks after the funeral, Damian goes to have a chat with his mother and grandfather, to see if they could lend a hand. A quick flashback of Damian’s life, provided by Talia, shows us this is a future where the events of Batman Incorporated never happened; Damian’s issues with his mother ending more in Morrison’s Batman and Robin run instead of at the hands of his clone. However, Talia and Ra’s refuse; stating that as Damian is Batman’s heir, they are severing his ties to the League of Assassins as to leave Batman’s legacy unsullied. Ra’s encourages Damian to take his father’s place. Damian considers such a concept to be ridiculous. But as he broods in the Batcave, he begins to hunt for his father’s killer. His interactions with those who claim to be the killer are brutal and bloody, and lethal. Unfortunately, they were all lying. Damian later talks to a priest, who seems to have been privy to the big secret. He tries to remind Damian that his violent and bloody actions are against Batman’s code, making Damian as bad as the criminals he has nearly slaughtered. The priest argues that Damian should continue his father’s methods; but Damian refuses, saying it provides him with closure and that while his father’s intentions were good, the criminals were often back on the street sooner or later, killing again. Damian’s method stops them, period. Damian leaves, saying the priest doesn’t know him at all; the priest however says he knows only too well he knows Damian. In Wayne Manor, Alfred chastises Damian for his actions. However, he can tell Damian is hurting, and reminds him that Batman knew the risks, and he would condemn Damian’s actions. However, Damian is blaming himself for what happened; and he will deal with what happened in his way. He storms into the Batcave, saying that he knows who killed Batman: Joker. And Damian vows to end Joker’s life…until a surprise appearance by someone happens; and that someone has a few choice words. Who is it? That I won’t be spoiling.
Some artists are good writers; Kubert is average. His Damian seems to ignore all the character growth in the Batman and Robin titles on either side of Flashpoint. Damian is a rude, course, and more surly than normal teenager who still has a murderous streak a mile wide. He’s still the ten-year old demon brat we first met, only older, bigger, and stronger. He even has brass knuckles on his gloves; a feature his father mocked in the Batman and Son arc that Kubert himself drew. Damian mocks Batman’s melodramatic tendencies while being no slouch in that department. Damian is murderous, hypocritical, and mostly unlikable. However certain moments shine through powerfully; such as the confessional scene, Ra’s’ severing Damian’s ties to the House of Al Ghul, and Damian’s admittance that he is blaming himself. The surprise reveal at the end also keeps you at the edge of your seat. However, Damian as a teenage enfant terrible is annoying and unlikable, and would make it hard for some to keep with the miniseries if the protagonist is so unlikable. While the miniseries’ intent is to show how Damian could become the Batman seen in Batman #666; it seems he has a much farther way to go to get to that somewhat more matured and mellow (for him) Damian we see as an adult.
The art is better. While touched with a bit too much melodrama (with angry faces, gritted teeth, etc), it rises to the occasion. The teenaged Damian is truly his father’s son; in face and build. The scenes in the church have a touch of noir, with heavy shadows and light shining through the windows. A panel in that sequence, where we see Damian’s eyes through the screen of the confessional, we can see the anger and hurt that is driving him, which is where we start having more sympathy for a character that seems to have retreated into old behaviors. Another panel, a full-page one, shows how driven Damian is to find Batman’s killer to the point that his costume is practically ripped to shreds. The three small scenes where Damian goes after three suspects are violent and darkly humorous. Certain locations, such as the church, Ra’s’ lab (where Damian clones still exist), and the Batcave are also well done. However, there are several cases of awkward faces, one glaring example being Damian yelling at Alfred.
While it is a decent issue, it is not quite what I, or others, might be expecting. Damian seems to have reversed back to how he was when he first appeared, and he has lost all the self-control he supposedly gained under Dick Grayson’s and Bruce Wayne’s tutelage. However, it is a story of a young man driven to find who killed his father and exact revenge. Perhaps it is a “Curse of the Waynes”; that the son of Batman will be forced to follow the same dark path as the original before seeing the light. As for keeping people interested in the mini, this first issue isn’t exactly a turn-off, but it’s not exactly a welcoming opening. Perhaps it would have been better if Kubert planned out the story and had another author such as Peter Tomasi write the actual script while he concentrated on the art. Tomasi’s skill with Damian would have made the Demon-Brat-Teen perhaps more likable, and more relateable. There are presently rumors that Damian will return to main continuity next summer; rumors I personally hope are true. Until then, let’s hope this miniseries picks up a bit.
7.5 out of 10