The more I think about Damian Wayne's death, the more pensive it makes me. I take the role of a father pretty seriously. Much of the fiction that shaped me as a child had themes of fatherhood woven through it. We all watched as Luke confronted the black, armoured figure of Vader and faced the reality of who he was. It affected us. In the end we saw that relationship redeemed. We've watched Aragorn Son of Arathorn pick up the sword of his ancestors, seen the return of the King. We've felt Thor's struggle to lift the hammer that his father deemed him unworthy of, and joined Kirk at the helm as he strove to make his father proud. Fathers make heroes. Batman has worked at being a father forever. Since the character was created back in 1939, Bruce has taken these boys, Dick, Jason, Tim, under his wing and mentored them. He's tried his best to be a father; because of the nature of the character, this brooding tragedy that follows him everywhere, he's never been particularly great at it. Or at least, so they have written. Why not? There should be nothing more heroic in the world of romance these figures walk than the bond between father and son. They should grow to be brothers in arms, like Odysseus and Telemachus. And while Bruce has played father figure to all these lads, Damian was actually his son. Should that not have been worth something?
So here are my questions. Where is it written that character development in comics must be achieved through death of a loved one? Always someone close dying to push the hero to new lengths? Why not bring some redemption to Batman? What if he was allowed by writers to become a successful father, form a bond with his son and be the stronger for it? Imagine the Bat Family...as a real family. Imagine the bond that the Fantastic Four have, the lengths that Peter Parker has gone to to keep aunt May and MJ safe. Picture the drive that comes form having something that powerful to fight for. Wouldn't that be the greatest honour that Bruce could do his parents? And then, what about us? As creators, is it not our duty to honour the characters we bring to life? To quote Alan Moore in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, "Two sketching hands, each one the other draws; the fantasies thou've fashioned fashion thee." Moore references Escher's famous hands to bring home his lesson; that the fictions we create in turn shape us, our children, our readers. It's a great responsibility to write a story. You have a responsibility to the characters, for you control their experiences and shape their lives, and you have a responsibility to the readers who will encounter those experiences on the page and be shaped by them also. I think at this point the writers at DC are dishonouring Martha and Thomas Wayne. They are cheating Bruce. And they have, in some way, failed their readership, for at this point I find myself doubting that batman will ever be redeemed. Is that what we want, to see Bruce Wayne forever in pain? I could be wrong; maybe it is. We get a kick out of it, don't we, that pain? We love to watch him suffer, the way he's suffered for decades. And it will never change. Dick will die, and then Tim; maybe Stephanie Brown will have her throat ripped out by an ageless Joker fifty years from now. And Batman will never be whole. He'll always be the butt of the joke, "I am the night, my parents are dead", and never see his dream fulfilled.
I leave it to DC comics to prove me wrong.