“Tell the others it’s over, Alfred. Batman. All of it. This madness is over.” – Bruce Wayne, Batman Incorporated #1
The big news of the week is the death of Damian Wayne, latest Robin and son of the Dark Knight himself. Created in an Elseworlds story in the 80’s, the idea of “Bruce and Talia’s kid” showed up in a couple other alternate realities. My favorite of which is Kingdom Come where under the name Ibn al Xu’ffasch, he didn’t do anything of note. They don’t even outright spell it out that it’s Bruce’s kid until the sequel, but like with much of that comic, there’s miles of details to be found throughout. For instance, despite being a part of Lex Luthor’s little cabal against metahumans, it’s strongly suggested that Ibn is a mole working for his father all along.
His subtle storyline leads to one of my favorite little moments in that book. During the end, there’s a page that shows Batman walking through the Batcave, now transformed into a hospital for people affected by a nuclear bomb. All of Luthor’s league are forced to wear control collars as they tend to the sick, except for Ibn. Off to the side, there’s a sequence that tells its own story. Ibn drapes a sheet over a body. He appears broken up over this loss of life, but Bruce stops by to give him a reassuring look.
Ibn also had a mullet. That was a plus.
Anyway, the fully-realized Damian has become a focal point of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman. He appeared as something of a villain in the very first story, gradually turning into something a little less evil. He faded into the background for much of the early run and remained a complete bastard, especially towards his “brother” Tim Drake. Also, there was that look to the future in Batman #666 that showed a reality where he would become Batman after supposedly selling his soul to the Devil.
Damian wouldn’t begin to show any real change until Bruce’s supposed death. Battle for the Cowl gets a lot of warranted criticism for being an unnecessary miniseries meant to cash-in on Batman being dead, but there is one sequence I kind of like. Damian steals the Batmobile and takes some unidentified teenage girl for a joyride. Shit goes down, they get split up and Damian finds out that she’s been killed by Killer Croc. It’s actually kind of shocking to see Damian have a horrified reaction to this. By this point, any moments of him working on the side of good has been self-serving, trying to get Bruce’s approval or simply just fighting for the sake of fighting. It’s the first reassuring moment in the character’s history as there’s something resembling humanity being shown.