Monday, September 3, 2012

Batman and Robin :: Daddy Issues

When DC Comics relaunched its pantheon of characters last year with the New 52 among those new developments that would survive the DCU reboot would be the recent introduction of Batman/Bruce Wayne’s son Damian Wayne, who had been indoctrinated into the Batman’s mythology as the latest sidekick to wear the cape and cowl of Robin. But this Boy Wonder was much more than even the Caped Crusader and company were prepared to deal with. Gotham’s villains beware!

Damian Wayne is the product of a dalliance between Wayne and Talia al Ghul, the daughter of Batman’s arch nemesis Ra’s al Ghul. For those of you not necessary versed in the Batman’s rogues gallery, “Talia” is played by Marion Cotillard in The Dark Knight Rises.  The tryst between the two star-crossed lovers results in a son that Talia grows in a test tube and is raised among the greatest minds available to the League of Assassins.

The Dynamic Duo get re-imagined for today!
Talia takes her son to task with the intention of turning him into a weapon that her father cab use in his plans for world conquest, until his existence is uncovered and the Batman intervenes. Damian is then “rescued” by his father and returns with him to Gotham City. It isn’t long before it’s learned how deeply intrenched Damian is in his manipulation by his mother – the new young Master Wayne is quite the assassin himself.

Once Tim Drake, the third Robin matures and assumes the more appropriate crime fighting identity of the Red Robin, Damian inserts himself as the second half of the Dynamic Duo. Bruce becomes a bit concerned by how ruthless his new Robin is in his violent assertion on the criminals of Gotham City. Batman has already lost one partner, the impetuous Jason Todd met with as sinister end at the hand of the Joker – and returned to action as the vigilante Red Hood. Concerned that Damian is on a similar path, Batman begins to try to temper Damian’s rage.

But no sooner does the Batman take his new charge under his wing, does the Caped Crusader meet what seems to be his untimely demise at the hands of Darkseid’s Final Crisis and is then resurrected as a zombie during the Blackest Night. All this doesn’t seem to bode well for young Damian who begins to grow more despondent...and deadly. If not for the intervention of Dick Grayson, the original Robin who has become the heroic titan Nightwing, Damian’s future would have been grim indeed.

While the Bruce Wayne goes missing, Grayson rightfully assumes the role of Batman and makes Damian his Robin. The two become a potent crime fighting team and Grayson even inserts Damian into the Teen Titans (we think...after the New 52 reboot it’s not clear whether Damian flew as part of that team of young heroes) but no sooner do the two develop a rhythm, than Wayne returns from the dead...and to the role of Batman.

Flashpoint to the New 52 and Batman takes a more centralized role in Damian’s training as his partner, but with both personalities suffering from serious “daddy issues” it doesn’t take long for the riff between them to grow deeper and wider. Robin begins to resent that the Batman doesn’t take him out on patrol when a new menace threatens the streets of Gotham. He’s called NoBody and his intention is not just to stop crime – he means to erase it by any means possible.

NoBody turns his attention to the international cooperative of “Batmen” that Wayne has created. The skilled assassin confronts and subdues the “Batman” of Russia, and then slowly dissolves him in acid. While Batman begins to investigate the grizzly murders, he pushes Damian in other directions hoping to teach his son to be patient. What he doesn’t know is just how comfortable Damian has become in performing acts of cruelty. He begins by snapping the necks of bats in the Batcave when his father isn’t looking, and squashing fireflies in his hands.

His cruelty doesn’t go unnoticed to Alfred, the Wayne family butler, he sees how badly Damian takes to treating the new member of the household, a great dane puppy that Bruce purchases for his son, hoping to teach him responsibility. Damian has little or nothing to do with the new pet and instead is disobedient patrolling the streets of Gotham without the Batman. He attacks common muggers with an intense and unyielding rage that grabs the attention of NoBody. He immediately begins to plot how to use the new Robin in his plan to defeat the Batman...

I promise not to leave you hanging and finish the tale, but in the meantime you can get caught up on what was one of the most compelling storylines to emerge from the DC Comics relaunch of the New 52. It’s now collected in a single hardcover book Batman and Robin Volume 1: Born To Kill chronicles the first 8 issue arc of the new series by Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray.

Not for the faint of heart, this is a really gritty re-imagining of the dynamic duo that is sure to attract fans in this post-Christopher Nolan world of the Dark Knight. It’s worth checking out!

JC Alvarez is the Nightlife Editor for EDGE On The Net and a pop-culture columnist covering celebrity and entertainment. He is the voice behind the nationally syndicated Internet radio show “Out Loud & Live!” that broadcasts every Friday @ 9pm EST on

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