Fatherhood and Batman: R.I.P Damian

Posted by Vitaeleous (70 posts) - - Show Bio

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.

#1 Posted by Avenging-X-Bolt (13471 posts) - - Show Bio

i dont think biological relations should make Damian any more important to Bruce than any of the other Robins

#2 Posted by Stronger (4948 posts) - - Show Bio

@Avenging-X-Bolt said:

i dont think biological relations should make Damian any more important to Bruce than any of the other Robins

Agreed.

#3 Edited by Avenger85 (1972 posts) - - Show Bio

@Vitaeleous: I agree completely.

Apparently, it seems like comic publishers just aren't too fond of the concept of a family. Both Marvel & DC.

#4 Posted by Vitaeleous (70 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm with both of you on this. Bruce was a father to all the Robins, and not just the boys; Carrie Kelly should be included in this too, and Stephanie Brown, girls Bruce has seen, however briefly, as daughters. Imagine Batman as the father grilling the new boyfriend...anyway, yes, biological relationship should not be a deciding factor here, but what struck me is that if any of the Robins were going to have a chance at that, it would have been Damian. I think his death pretty much cements that we won't be seeing redemption for Bruce as a father anytime soon, if ever. Again, DC, feel free to prove me wrong.

#5 Posted by Gordon Kelly (59 posts) - - Show Bio

I just got the news today that Damian was killed in Batman INC #8. I have been away in Florida and the Bahamas in February with my girlfriend and her family. I was on a shipcruise and some kid was reading Batman INC #8 and told me while I was eating my breakfast that Damian was killed. I was very upset and he runied my breakfast and had to throw it away and he runied and my holidays. I thought it was a joke like Batman RIP series but it was not.a joke at all. I got a lot of comic book reading to do here and recover from my trip.

#6 Posted by gettogaara (164 posts) - - Show Bio

@Avenging-X-Bolt said:

i dont think biological relations should make Damian any more important to Bruce than any of the other Robins

While I partially agree, I think the fact that he was actually his blood make it more traumatizing to Bruce. I mean with the other Robins, he took them in and made them his responsibility but Damian WAS his responsibility and he failed to protect him. It just makes matters worse that he was only 10 and barely got to live.

#7 Posted by Avenging-X-Bolt (13471 posts) - - Show Bio

@gettogaara said:

@Avenging-X-Bolt said:

i dont think biological relations should make Damian any more important to Bruce than any of the other Robins

While I partially agree, I think the fact that he was actually his blood make it more traumatizing to Bruce. I mean with the other Robins, he took them in and made them his responsibility but Damian WAS his responsibility and he failed to protect him. It just makes matters worse that he was only 10 and barely got to live.

this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

#8 Posted by V_Scarlotte_Rose (6475 posts) - - Show Bio

@Avenging-X-Bolt said:

i dont think biological relations should make Damian any more important to Bruce than any of the other Robins

I think it would have made a difference if he'd brought him up since birth, but since he met him when he was already old enough to be a Robin, he is kind of on the same level as the others.

#9 Edited by gettogaara (164 posts) - - Show Bio

@Avenging-X-Bolt: In other words, he brought them into into his life by choice. He chose to take care of them and made them his responsibility. Damian was his responsibility from the moment he was born.

#10 Posted by V_Scarlotte_Rose (6475 posts) - - Show Bio

@gettogaara said:

@Avenging-X-Bolt: In other words, he brought them into into his life by choice. He chose to take care of them and made them his responsibility. Damian was his responsibility from the moment he was born.

I thought he only met him when he was ten though. Surely he was Talias' responsibility from the moment he was born?

#11 Posted by Avenging-X-Bolt (13471 posts) - - Show Bio

@gettogaara said:

@Avenging-X-Bolt: In other words, he brought them into into his life by choice. He chose to take care of them and made them his responsibility. Damian was his responsibility from the moment he was born.

ok, i dont really see how him failing one is worse than the other. it doesnt really matter how long either one is his responsibility, responsibility is responsibility.

#12 Posted by gettogaara (164 posts) - - Show Bio

@V_Scarlotte_Rose: Well yeah their circumstances are.....complicated to say the least lol. Talia didn't tell Bruce about his existence either so it's not like he could have done anything. I'm just saying with Damian he didn't really have a choice on whether or not he wanted to take responsibility for him unlike Dick, Jason and Tim.

@Avenging-X-Bolt: I'm not saying it matters how long. After all he's hardly known Damian for a year(unless they changed it in New 52) but the kid had a terrible upbringing, Bruce was starting to change him and then suddenly he dies. The ten year old boy he brought into the world, is dead in his arms. Are you seriously going to say that's not going to traumatize him more than Jason's death?

#13 Posted by Avenging-X-Bolt (13471 posts) - - Show Bio

@gettogaara said:

@V_Scarlotte_Rose: Well yeah their circumstances are.....complicated to say the least lol. Talia didn't tell Bruce about his existence either so it's not like he could have done anything. I'm just saying with Damian he didn't really have a choice on whether or not he wanted to take responsibility for him unlike Dick, Jason and Tim.

@Avenging-X-Bolt: I'm not saying it matters how long. After all he's hardly known Damian for a year(unless they changed it in New 52) but the kid had a terrible upbringing, Bruce was starting to change him and then suddenly he dies. The ten year old boy he brought into the world, is dead in his arms. Are you seriously going to say that's not going to traumatize him more than Jason's death?

yes. that would be some sh*t fathering otherwise. a son is a son, no matter where it comes from. it doesn't matter who spat you out or who gave you dna. its about who raised you, imparted values upon, and gave you love. if anything makes Bruce sadder about Damian's death it should be that he and Damian were just starting to truly connect.

#14 Posted by gettogaara (164 posts) - - Show Bio

@Avenging-X-Bolt: Look, I'm not trying to get into some biological vs adopted debate. I'm just saying that by being his blood Bruce did not have a choice in being responsible for Damian. It was his job from the start where as with the others it only became his job when he took them in. Either way I do agree that the worst part is how they were just becoming close and Damian was starting to grow as a person.

#15 Posted by jbressi (8 posts) - - Show Bio

he's the only reason i would ever want a son, (im 32.) but what a bummer. loved his character with his lil tick N all *<tt>* love it. heres a lil peice of fan art, Batman trying to rescue Damian from Mr. Freeze. More fan art is here on my fb page ( http://www.facebook.com/joshuabressiphotography ). DAMIAN, YOU WILL BE MISSED!

#16 Posted by Vitaeleous (70 posts) - - Show Bio

- I appreciate you all weighing in. I assume you've all read the article about the proposed "five stages of grieving" that we're going to see Bruce go through, five issues that partner him with five different sidekicks. So, let's not end this conversation here. What are your thoughts on the five-stages format? Who do you think will end up as the new Robin in Damian's place? Long-term what do you want to see for Batman? I've already put forward my thoughts on this as they currently stand; I want to see the character redeemed, want to see him able to live with himself. I want to see him honour his parents in the end. How 'bout you?

#17 Posted by Stronger (4948 posts) - - Show Bio

@Vitaeleous said:

- I appreciate you all weighing in. I assume you've all read the article about the proposed "five stages of grieving" that we're going to see Bruce go through, five issues that partner him with five different sidekicks. So, let's not end this conversation here. What are your thoughts on the five-stages format? Who do you think will end up as the new Robin in Damian's place? Long-term what do you want to see for Batman? I've already put forward my thoughts on this as they currently stand; I want to see the character redeemed, want to see him able to live with himself. I want to see him honour his parents in the end. How 'bout you?

I really hope that nobody is gonna replace Damian.The Robin mantle should retire for now.

Without Robin by his side,Batman would be even darker and unaproachable......

#18 Posted by Vitaeleous (70 posts) - - Show Bio

@Stronger: On another thread, user said "At this point I just wanna see Bats go solo for now and have all this make good on what the "Death of the Family" aura from Snyder gave us. Temporary team ups, that's fine and I'm sure they'll be great. For me? I'll just have Bruce be flying solo bat for now to be truly happy."

Part of me has to agree. I think separating Bruce from any kind of parental commitment (for the time-being) is a good way to re-focus him after this trauma. He might not be in any kind of shape to handle mentorship responsibilities for a while. Flying solo, and having the Justice league as a sort of super-powered support group might be a good thing for him. Let him heal, refocus, and move on. Then let him think about a new Robin.

But yeah...he's going to be one helluva lot less hospitable without the kid around.

#19 Edited by gettogaara (164 posts) - - Show Bio

@Vitaeleous: I've got no problem with the five stages and how the bat family will be taking turns trying to help him get through it. If he got over it in the next two issues it would be incredibly unrealistic. I haven't really given a new Robin too much thought because I definitely think that the mantle needs a break but Harper Row(who has gotten immensely popular somehow it seems) does not really strike me as a Robin. V_Scarlotte_Rose had a pretty good idea in another topic about how maybe he could work with Huntress eventually since she's technically his daughter.

At the moment all I want to see is him avenge his son, not sure about long term. Sadly, I doubt Batman will ever be redeemed. He's a constantly suffering character and whenever he finds happiness or is at least content something always seems to go wrong to ruin it.

#20 Edited by V_Scarlotte_Rose (6475 posts) - - Show Bio

@Vitaeleous said:

- I appreciate you all weighing in. I assume you've all read the article about the proposed "five stages of grieving" that we're going to see Bruce go through, five issues that partner him with five different sidekicks. So, let's not end this conversation here. What are your thoughts on the five-stages format? Who do you think will end up as the new Robin in Damian's place? Long-term what do you want to see for Batman? I've already put forward my thoughts on this as they currently stand; I want to see the character redeemed, want to see him able to live with himself. I want to see him honour his parents in the end. How 'bout you?

I'm alright with the five stages format. I've seen some people complaining that it's ripping off Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America as it also used an individual issue for each stage, with different characters in each(As far as I know. I haven;t actually read it.), but it's not like Jeph Loeb created the Kubler-Ross Model, so I think it's an O.K. format to use now and again.

It's difficult to tell who will be the next Robin. I've seen some people say that there shouldn't be another Robin because it would be wrong to replace Damian, due to the father-son connection. I think I would agree with this if Damian had been the first and only Robin, as someone else stepping into the role that your son had created may be a little inappropriate. Considering that Damian is not the first Robin, and it is basically the 'Batman Sidekick' position, I think it would be O.K. for there to be another Robin at some point.

From what I've heard online, in the New 52 continuity when Jason Todd died, Tim Drake never took up the position as Robin, instead going straight into being Red Robin, as he believed taking on the role of someone who had died as Robin would be wrong to do. If this is the kind of thing that has happened before, it seems possible that Batmans' next full time sidekick may not be called Robin, but the one after that may be, after a considerable mourning period.

As said, I had an idea that he could work with Huntress. She lost her father, Batman, on Earth-2, and he's lost his child on the main Earth. Considering she was the Robin of Earth 2, it seems possible that she could take up role as Batmans' sidekick now that she's on the main Earth, either as the new Robin, or as Huntress, depending on how everyone feels about someone else taking up the Robin mantle so soon. It seems like she would be an appropriate choice, as they could fill the parent-child roles that each one of them is missing.

Spoilers for Worlds Finest #10:

At the prospect of meeting the main Batman at Damians' grave Huntress does mention wondering about taking over as Robin. It may just be a thought, but maybe it could be setting up the idea that it could happen. More preview pages available here: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=preview&id=15569

I don't read Batman Incorporated, so I'll have to be a little vague here. I think that whoever is responsible for Damians' death should be brought to justice, as that seems like the right thing to do. Make them be punished for what they did. I don't however want to see Batman start killing because of this. I've seen several people suggest that he should, but it's established that he doesn't kill. He should continue his fight for justice as he's always done.

#21 Posted by Vitaeleous (70 posts) - - Show Bio

That was very well-said. I don't think anyone reading comics can ever complain about ripping off something else; comics have been ripping each other off since the beginning of comics. Lol we need to get over that.

I wasn't aware of Tim Drake's respect for the Robin mantle in the New 52 continuity. Frankly, I've tended to avoid most of the New52 until very recently. It makes sense in that regard that the sidekick position be filled by someone of another name; the Huntress option also seems like a really good fit. At risk of being cliched, there's a sort of yin and yang to their personal states of loss, and they'd be compatible in that sense. In feels a little like Fringe, with Peter being brought over from the other side to fill that hole in Walter's life. Could be that Bruce will find fatherly fulfillment in that relationship after all. I suppose we'll have to wait and see.

#22 Posted by V_Scarlotte_Rose (6475 posts) - - Show Bio

@Vitaeleous: Thanks. I think a lot of things in life have probably been called rip offs the second time they happened. I imagine some have gone on to be classic ideas. Like DC suing Fawcett for making Shazam(Captain Marvel) too similar to Superman, and then bringing him into DC comics because he was obviously popular enough.

I haven't read it personally, but I'm pretty sure that's what happened. I'll see if I can find more details on it.

It seems that Bruce Wayne has a natural fatherly way about him, taking on young sidekicks and looking after them. He maybe feels the need to look after children because of how his own family was taken from him. He misses his own parents, so maybe being a parent, or in a parental role helps him deal with the pain and loneliness of having lost a family. Considering in the New 52, two of his sidekicks have been orphans, and one has been his own child, Huntress could be a perfect fit, as she fits both of these parameters.

#23 Posted by Geoschua (5 posts) - - Show Bio

@vitaeleous: I admire the thoughtfulness of this forum topic. Lots of great reviews. The writer Grant Morrison was at the helm deciding the fate of Damian and saw it as his creation to do with what he would. I, like you and some here, think that the killing off of Damian was irresponsible in terms of the lost investment from the readers. I found Damian's character development quickly progressed and allowed more positive potential with every father-son interaction. The readers saw an immediate change with almost every book. We were 'growing up' with him, in a sense. We watched him learn from his mistakes and succeed at resolving them. It really was amazing how much patient resolve and maturity we watched Damian achieve by the end of his run. Ending it so abruptly was a shock that took all of that awesome father-son potential away. It hurt a lot of readers. Perhaps it was a shock that will never quite be remedied. As you say, we will have to watch Bruce battle the five stages of grief now and the long-term pain indefinitely. I think it's a real loss.

On the note of the father-son dynamic. I thought the writing was realistic for the circumstances surrounding Bruce and Damian and great since the beginning. As we all know, not all father-son relationships are perfectly normal. Often, families are the better part of dysfunctional. Oddly enough, I met my father when I was 11 years old. I worked for my dad for years after high school and into college as a laborer. As a young kid it was tough to work through the past's questions while keeping a professional work ethic intact. My Dad had a similar time of it. He had to maintain professionalism as the boss and not show any special treatment towards me. In the end, his standards were higher for me than anyone else. In short, themes like tough-love, pride, respect, angst, compliment- and affection-limited dialog in the workplace, and can-do-no-wrong attitudes run rampant in some real-world father son dynamics. I think the writing in Batman and Robin and Batman, Inc. and others appropriately fit the roles and perspectives of Bruce and Damian. They were a perfect combo with slow but real progress. I hope we get to see the dynamic again so we can pick up where we left off.

#24 Edited by Vitaeleous (70 posts) - - Show Bio

@geoschua: That's really cool; I had no idea Morrison was at the helm of Damian's writing. I have a huge amount for that man's writing and attention to narrative structure. I don't believe he does anything carelessly or without a massive amount of foresight. That's definitely got me wondering where we'll see Bats in the future, long and short-term both. Thanks for all your thought and input; it's ever so much appreciated :)

#25 Posted by hushicho (35 posts) - - Show Bio

Frankly the whole thing is just tasteless. I lived through the first stunt killing off Jason, my favourite Robin, whom they FUBARed with the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot (after they said, just like this 'new 52' time, that Batman would remain the same), and the less said about that, the better. It's just pretentious, nothing more, and it proves that they have no new ideas. When they reached the first and most utter bankruptcy of creativity, they pulled a publicity stunt they knew would lead to Jason being killed off in one of the most revolting antics I have ever seen. It didn't work then, it doesn't work now: they were trying to isolate Batman, to concentrate on him as a character, but by that time they'd started the deterioration of his formerly stern-but-reasonable personality, a tormented man trying to do right, into the near-sociopath he is today. They failed to understand that it's his family, the supporting characters and other heroes around him, that make him more interesting. Batman was never a particularly nuanced character, but he was instead the figure that young readers hoped one day to grow into, whereas Robin was the character they either wished to befriend or saw a reflection of themselves in reality. They are a symbiotic gestalt, and dividing them doesn't work.

Hasn't anyone noticed that trying to have one without the other doesn't really work very well? Evidently no-one working for DC, least of all Grant Morrison, who perhaps should try writing without being on drugs, for once. Certainly, he's had a number of promising concepts, but his ability to actually realise those concepts is something I have never once seen exhibited in anything I've read of his. Like the rest of the crop of creative staff Marvel and DC both try to promote as if they were true celebrities, they have too many people drinking the kool-aid and ripping the flesh of anyone who dares criticise. Stunts like this don't exhibit integrity in any way whatsoever. They're nothing but tasteless stunts meant to milk money out of tragedy because they can't think of a creative or constructive way to bolster readership.

Killing off a character is one of the worst creative moves ever, especially in a story with unlimited scope. You are guaranteed to be killing off a character that is someone's favourite, and as such you are going to lose readers. They'll be reminded of the absence, it'll eat at them, and eventually -- even those Stockholm Syndrome-like drones that have dozens of titles in their pull list and never once read them -- they decide to stop. I did the same thing, back in the day. Marvel and DC apparently believe that the publicity will bring in new readers, but most are not retained. It's an extremely foolish decision, whether creatively or in terms of business, and they wonder why comic readership has hit all-time lows when they themselves don't respect their characters (and, through them, the readers).

The more people die as a result of Batman's inability to kill, the less he can be sympathised with as a hero. It would be one thing if many of his foes weren't proven serial killers, and especially when someone close to him is killed. He becomes not only unrealistic, but utterly unsympathetic; the Joker, for example, should have been dead a hundred times, but they don't dare. He's too valuable. So it's the rest of us that get the middle finger. Past a point, who cares what Batman goes through? It's not like he's going to actually do anything pro-active to stop it, is he? So what's the point? It's a concession of the superhero genre that, in cases like this, is an uncomfortably obvious elephant in the room.

I have my own concept of this world of superheroes, and it's a rare occasion I actually like something enough to accept it into that concept. Growing up reading comics taught me that there's a lot you have to toss out in order to enjoy things, but that's also part of the fun of reading, deciding what to make your own sort of personal story, your relationship with these characters. Since there's a revolving-door policy for creative teams on superhero stories, it's easy to toss out a team's work wholesale if it's not up to par...and with Marvel and DC since the 80s, there's been a lot of that. This? This is trash. What Morrison's done is trash, and it's a betrayal of Damian and all the readers as well. DC promised that this 'new 52' would be fresh and new and better, but I've yet to see it.

You can't make something better when you put it right back in the hands of the people that rendered it worthless in the first place.

I can only hope that maybe, just maybe, they'll realise their mistake and backpedal. Because as it stands, there's not a single thing that keeps me coming back to any of the Batman titles. A fanboyish approach to the writing, mediocre art more times than not, needlessly protracted stories...the comics I grew up with weren't all perfect, far from it. But they were overwhelmingly superior to the drek belched out especially in the past 15 years to try and wring a few bucks out of the customers still buying from the difficult condition known as nostalgia.

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