With comic book crossovers and major company wide events failing to bring in the same sales that they did in the 80’s and 90’s comic publishers have resorted to bringing drastic changes into stabilized character continuations. Whether it is switching the race or gender of a long running hero or having the villain take control of the heroes body, it seems no title is safe. Batman on the other hand has held one of the most consistent sale records through the decades and bringing change into the Dark Knights life is a risky maneuver. But, of course, they had to try something new.
Enter the Batman and Son, circa 2006. Grant Morrison, one of the highest talents in the industry had recently finished his impressive run on the All Star Superman title and DC editors rewarded him with control of the Batman continuity. Batman #655 marked Mr. Morrison’s take over of the caped crusader along with established power house artist Andy Kubert. Inspired by the Elseworlds storyline from Batman: Son of the Demon, Morrison quickly brought in a change that would forever shape the world of Bruce and his dysfunctional Bat-family there after. Damian Wayne, the bastard son of Talia al Ghul and the Batman himself.
Beginning the story arc by quickly wrapping up the previous Joker plot, Gotham and Batman are in as stable position as they ever can be. However, an impromptu vacation to London brings demons from the past up that Bruce Wayne would rather forget. Without much warning, Talia al Ghul drops the news on Batman that he is indeed a father. Enough to shake any mans life, she goes further to leave the young boy in Batman’s care. Forcing his hand, Batman brings Damian back to the Batcave and Wayne Manor. Meeting Alfred and Tim Drake, Damian’s hard personality clashes as he takes it upon himself to don the Robin tights. Bruce Wayne must take on the fatherly role, if he is to guide his son to a life of good. Instead of the evil that has formed him thus far.
Damian Wayne is exactly the character he needed to be. Reflecting the darker sides of his fathers personality while showing only glimpses of the hero he could become. Out of all the Robins, Damian carries the most likeliness of being the Batman of the future. In the short lifespan of the character he has already cemented his place in the DCU, and has been featured in 2 animated films. Like the big man himself, the rest of the hero line up is unsure what to think of the child, and in his own way is the most intimidating sidekick in comic history.
The uniqueness of the Batman and son relationship is a large part of the success of this storyline and new character. There were many places Grant Morrison could have taken the big title, in the end he has left a lasting stamp in an impressively natural way.
The artistic approach to this graphic novel is one of the strongest showings I’ve seen from an already beloved Andy Kubert. In particular, there is a scene early inside a Pop art gallery. In which Mr. Kubert uses the artwork and imagery around the charecters to add to the drama, theme, and story telling. Resulting in one of the most inspiring scenes from comic literature in a long time.
Batman and Son is worth a read, if simply for the origins of DC’s biggest brat. I give the graphic novel 4/5 and a 5 for DC for pulling the trigger and giving one of comics biggest talents a title he deserves. Instantly he gave us a storyline that has effective, drastic effects on an important character without taking anything away from the persona, history, or how we envision the big bad Dark Knight. At the same time, adding to the investment now that we need to see where these characters will go for years to come.
Thanks booknerds, I’m so happy Green Onion and son didn’t turn out like this.