Every comic is somebody’s first comic. I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb here, but I think “Batman Incorporated #8” will have more first time readers for this issue than in the previous ones.
So let’s first look at the elephant in the room and acknowledge that Batman comes in to the story a little too late to save Robin. Damian is dead.
But what will first timers see in this story? Well, I imagine that there might be some wondering why the title is Batman Incorporated. But this book doesn’t really explain that. Who is this Ellie girl? Naw, no explanation here. World-Bomb Trigger? Nope, only that the bad guy wants it and it sounds dangerous. Speaking of that bad guy, is there even a name check for him in this comic? And how is he Damian’s brother/twin/rival?
Questions questions questions. But that isn’t what people came to see. What they came to see was the death of Robin, the Boy Wonder.
Morrison’s and Burnham’s take on Robin’s death has some familiar echoes of Jason Todd’s death from “Batman #428” from so many years ago. Robin undergoes a vicious beating. Their mother’s betrayal of their relationship directly causes their death. Batman is too late to save Robin. Robin died a hero’s death by protecting someone.
I’ll give this for Damina that Jason didn’t do: Damian fought until the bitter, brutal end. And when I say brutal, I mean a very brutal, graphic, and bloody end.
I will praise Burnham’s choice of panel layout for this issue. At times the panels are laid out in a nice, neat, balanced arrangement. Then when things get ugly, the panels flex in and out of focus, becoming broken panes of glass. They become scattered and shattered and really help deliver the feelings of imbalance and shows how much this is throwing off Batman and Robin’s worlds.
The last panel effect is done really well to show Damian’s final view. There is some panels that show nothing but Batman’s face as he watches Damian die. Slowly the panels turn to all black, with Damian’s last view is the outline of Batman’s cowl. It was a sorta poetic moment to show that Damian would only ever see the Shadow of the Bat and would never live his dream of becoming Batman.
The fall of Damian was something almost to be expected with the type of themes that Morrison interweaves into his stories. Look back at Morrison’s New X-Men run and how Jean Grey’s death affected Cyclops and pushed him to move forward. Something tells me that Damian’s death will cause Batman to change in a surprising way. And if you think about it, Jean Grey and Damian do have a lot in common with one another. For example, they both have backgrounds that are rife with rebirth and coming back from the dead. Jean Grey is a part of the Phoenix Force, and Damian is an al Ghul.
Give it time; he’ll be back. But until then, RIP Damian Wayne.