Thee Comic Column #26: Batman, Inc. – SPOILERS

robin1-525x800Batman Incorporated issue #8 hit the stands this week and holy cow – I just didn’t see this coming!!!

Well, okay, that’s not entirely true. Up until about issue seven I didn’t see this coming. Then, roughly two weeks ago a lot of people online began talking around this major event in the pages of Morrison’s little corner of the Bat-Verse (the impetus for this chatter was apparently an irresponsible New York Post article, though I haven’t actually confirmed that). If you went looking around the web at all it was obvious from the leaked RIP-themed cover where they were supposedly going with this, but as long-time comic fans we all know there’s no certainty with this type of thing. And of course there’s always the greatest super power of all to combat super hero death – the “But then”. Whatever the case, issue #8 hit this past Wednesday and annoyingly I had to wait an extra day to pick it up on the way home from work. Then to make matters worse I had to drive around with the issue taunting me while I ran a bunch of errands before I could FINALLY get home and settle in to read it. And it was worth the wait – another FANTASTIC issue that, by the end, moved me considerably.

Now, I have no illusions that another writer will not eventually resurrect Damian Wayne. Maybe even Grant Morrison, after all Damian is directly related to the al Ghul family –  the keepers of those handy dandy Lazarus Pits, right? But you know what? I don’t think that will be the case. This feels permanent, or at least permanent for the remainder of Morrison’s time with Batman. Maybe that’s what makes Damian’s death feel so heavy, the fact it’s actually more of a symbolic death of sorts, a harbinger of the end of Grant Morrison’s almost-seven year tenure on Batman. During that time there was good (most of it) and bad (the return of Bruce Wayne – not Mr. Morrison’s fault) but overall Morrison’s run was so rock solid and his ideas so fresh and revitalizing for the character that it actually withstood the greatest force known to any comic universe – sweeping editorial change! As the DCU became the NEW52 and every other title re-booted to fit in with the new paradigm, Morrison was able to keep his story going without compromise.

And now it’s ending.

That’s fine though. Sad, but I’d always rather have an artist clearly define the beginning and ending of his story – look what happened when David Chase was coaxed into stretching The Sopranos out. I love the series as a whole (yes, even the ending), but you can feel the thinning of the tone, like a watered-down glass of Glen Livet. The aforementioned Return of Bruce Wayne suffers from this a little bit – especially when juxtaposed with the absolutely brilliant fun of Batman and Robin which ran concurrently – but overall Morrison’s run, especially Batman and Robin and then Batman Incorporated, have been anything but watered down.

Matserful. They’ve been masterful.

Interestingly enough reading issue #8 dovetailed nicely with my listening to Kevin Smith’s two most recent Fatman on Batman podcasts, which you can download for free here  and which feature Grant Morrison as the guest. During the course of the conversation Grant speaks to Smith at length about the original impetus and conceptual arc for Damian. Morrison confesses that when he originally took over the regular montly Batman title back in 2006 his first story, Batman and Son, was supposed to not only introduce Damian, the spawn of Bruce and Talia’s one night affair, but also kill him at the end of the fourth issue. Now juxtapose that with Batman Inc. artist Chris Burnham’s recent newsarama interview where he said:

“I still have Grant’s original outline for Batman Inc: Season 2 on my desktop, dated from April 13, 2011. So I’ve known for almost two years! Even way back in #6 of the first volume, I knew what was going to happen. So Bruce’s line “And no. Not everyone is going to survive it” had extra significance for me. And will for you when you go back and reread it.”

Feels at least a bit more permanent now, doesn’t it?

So again, although this is comics and Damian will no doubt come back (I mean they brought freakin’ Jason Todd back, so nothing is sacred!) my own tenure as a reader on Batman is ending with Grant Morrison’s as writer and I’m sad to see our time together end on the note of Damian’s death. He was a bad-ass little dude that had easily become my favorite character in the Bat-verse (or the entire DC Universe for that matter). Also, sadly I suppose this technically voids the future glimpses Morrison gave us in Batman #666 and Batman, Inc. ssn two #5. I mean, I don’t want to wish an apocalypse on any comics universe, but those issues were pretty bad ass, and seeing how a grown-up Damian handled himself as the Batman of the future just added volumes to the character in the present.

Is there a bright side to Damian’s death? Of course not, but perhaps for now we can content ourselves with the knowledge that – of course – Batman will no doubt have his revenge! I don’t want to see Bats kill Damian’s murderer, his clone/brother whatever, the Tuscan Raider-looking Heretic (formerly The Fatherless). But does anyone else want to see Batman figure out a cunning way to turn The Heretic on Talia?

I DO!!!

(Note: in my mourning of Damien I’ve glossed over the fact that last month The Heretic took another great Batman cast member from us, the British counterpart Knight of Knight and Squire fame. As I’ve said in these pages before, I really liked Knight (and Squire) – but the fallout from that event is a whole other discussion).


Can’t find a comic shop? You can always use old reliable Comic Shop Locator at 1-800-COMIC-BOOK. Or you can take some of my recommendations. If you live in the greater Chicagoland area I recommend any of the wonderful four locations of Amazing Fantasy Books. In Los Angeles it’s The Comic Bug. Las Vegas it’s Alternate Reality Comics. San Francisco? Try the Isotope Comic Lounge and if you happen to venture a little further North I’d say you have to visit The Escapist Comic Book Store in Berkley (with the wonderful Dark Carnival Books next door and owned by the same folks). Read on!!! – See more at:

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

One Response to Thee Comic Column #26: Batman, Inc. – SPOILERS
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