BATMAN INCORPORATED #8 hit the stands but before the issue went on sale, people were talking about the big even that occurs in the issue. Word is this is something that Grant Morrison has been planning from the beginning. The path to this outcome has been in place for some time -- the writing was on the wall.
While this isn't the first time this sort of thing happened in a Batman comic, there are still a lot of things to consider. There are still some differences. There will obviously be outcomes for some time unless there is a quick and sudden reversal of what happened. With all the fuss over this issue and with Grant Morrison wanting to leave his mark on the series before ending his story, the chances of that aren't too likely.
Of course there will be spoilers below for BATMAN INCORPORATED #8. Make sure you read the issue before continuing.== TEASER ==
The Effects on Batman
More and more, especially in the pages of BATMAN AND ROBIN, we've been seeing Bruce and Damian grow closer. Damian was his son. His death will have a huge impact on him. Batman has now failed both as a father and as a crime fighting partner.
Damian was far from the typical ten-year-old child. Having been raised by Talia al Ghul and the League of Assassins, Damian was more than capable of handling dangerous situations. When Talia declared war against Batman and placed a half a billion dollar bounty on Damian's head, Bruce should have done everything in his power to ensure Damian would remain safe. Placing him under Alfred's care made sense but realistically, Alfred would not be able to stop Damian if he wanted.
Having lost Jason Todd to Joker before, it's clear that Batman cannot ensure the safety of his young sidekicks. Jason may have been able to return from the dead and while this is a comic book death, the point is another Robin died. As stated, Damian was more than capable of handling dangerous situations but regardless, he was still Batman's responsibility.
We did see Talia show the tiniest moment of regret in what happened. Batman almost went over the edge when Jason was killed. What will he do now that his actual biological son has been killed? Will he go after the Heretic or Talia? Talia has caused a multitude of death with Leviathan so will Batman just allow her to either escape or have her locked up?
The end of the Dynamic Duo?
The big question many are asking is what happens to the BATMAN AND ROBIN title? It seems you should have both a Batman and a Robin in a comic with that title. Of course we'll see some fallout. This isn't something Batman could or should simply dismiss. He has to deal with it. It's not likely the title will simply be canceled due to the success thanks to Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason.
We could have a few issues of Batman dealing with what happened. It wouldn't be Bruce sitting around the Batcave. We could see appearances by the other former Robins: Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and Tim Drake. Batman will need his family to get through this. He might want to shut everyone out but after his return from being 'dead' in the BATMAN AND ROBIN Vol. 1 #15, Batman realized how important his 'family' was. We could easily see some of the former Robins try to console Batman. They could join him and fight by his side for a brief period without losing their current identities.
Will Batman get a new Robin?
Batman was ready to permanently retire "Robin" after Jason's death. Having lost a second partner (and son), you would think any rational person would know better than to try to recruit or allow another to take the mantle. But Batman isn't necessarily the most rational person. Tim Drake also made Bruce see that "Batman needs a Robin."
It would be inevitable that we would see someone somehow resurrect the mantle of Robin. There needs to be a proper mourning period. It's not like we'll suddenly get the introduction of Stephanie Brown into the New 52 universe and she'll take the role. Tim, Jason or Dick won't demote themselves and return to the role. We could easily see a new person join the family and become a Robin but this wouldn't be something that could or should happen too quickly. Unless the person already had an incredible amount of training, there's no way Batman would allow them to even look at a Robin costume. The idea of Batman training a replacement for his son also seems out of the question.
Could Damian return?
I'll admit, before reading the issue, I was hoping there'd be a loophole in his death. There pretty much always is in a comic book. A weak attempt was made at the end of BATMAN INCORPORATED #1. Talia could have easily created another clone to replace Damian at the last moment. But because of the way the issue played out, we don't see Damian go off panel to allow a swap to occur. This isn't a matter of a body disappearing without being seen. We do see Damian receive a fatal blow. We do see Batman cradling his son's body.
Then again, it could be possible a replacement clone was created. Talia could have managed to intercept Damian as he made his way to the battle at Wayne Tower. This is comic books so something like this could easily happen and be explained later.
But what about his interaction with Nightwing and his final fight?
If Talia did create another clone, who's to say she couldn't have programmed/brainwashed his mind to think he was actually Damian? She could have filled a Damian replacement with some of the basic memories of Damian's time with Batman and Nightwing. In their final talk before Damian's last fight, he does refer to Nightwing as "Richard" rather than "Dick." Why would Damian be so formal? Has he ever called him Richard before? Probably. This could have been a goof on Talia's programming but I believe Damian has been 'formal' with Dick before.
What about BATMAN Vol. 1 #666?
The future Damian-as-Batman timeline is a fan-favorite. It's also been seen in BATMAN Vol. 1 #700 as well as more recently in BATMAN INCORPORATED #5. If Damian dies now, how could he ever grow up to become Batman in that hellish future? Of course for that future to happen, Batman has to die when Damian is fourteen, something that likely wouldn't happen.
Because that was a future timeline, we'll never see it actually happen. Damian's death means it can't happen but regardless, even if he manages to return, the current DC timeline will never reach or turn into that period.
Is this the end?
Damian is dead. It doesn't seem likely Grant Morrison would pull a cheap stunt and have Damian survive at the last moment. DC Comics has made a big deal about the death. Having the cover be a homage to BATMAN: R.I.P. also would be an insult if Damian suddenly survived. The solicits for the coming month also suggest that Batman will be dealing with this horrible event.
Because we are talking about a comic book death, there is always the chance he could somehow return. But also, because Damian was essentially Grant Morrison's creation, they may respect his wishes, even though he's leaving the title, and let Damian actually rest in peace. At some point down the line, someone could reverse this and bring him back, just as Jason Todd came back.
For now, this is the end.