Damian: Son of Batman
Writer: Andy Kubert
Art: Andy Kubert
Publisher: DC Comics
Released: October, 2013
Before I write this review I must preface this experience by saying that I went into this book cold. I didn’t have any prior knowledge of this book existing and it happened that by chance I was in an HMV store and was looking for a new story to check out that seemed interesting. I picked up Damian: Son of Batman with no pre-conceived notions of what came before this book or where this books falls in line with continuity because I wasn’t reading comics at the time this released. Flipping through the pages, the art was beautiful enough to pick up the book but I was wary as a few pages I read felt like it had cheesy lines so I was hesitant to commit to the purchase. I was unable to read reviews at that moment so on a whim I still picked this up. The first access I had to the internet I immediately searched for reviews and it seemed like there were at least 90% people who hated the book and thought it was garbage, and only 10% who actually enjoyed the book so this left a weird hole in my stomach… which perfectly led to me being even more curious about the actual quality of this book! (ie. perfect opportunity/reason to review a book)
The TL;DR of it all is that, I really fucking enjoyed this book. The writing was good (although some lines did sound/feel un-natural) and the art was excellent. This book being a take on a future of the Bat Family does a really great job of imagining how Damian would deal with life in a world where he was forced to take the mantle of his father Bruce Wayne once Dick Grayson was killed by a Joker imposter. This book deals with how Damian deals with being the last of the Bat Family (along with Alfred Pennyworth being murdered and his consciousness getting transferred into the Wayne’s pet cat) and deals with the morality in murder of villains which is a polar opposite to Bruce Wayne’s Batman who does not murder anyone, especially villains.
The story sets you up in a world where Bruce Wayne is apparently dead and Dick Grayson is now Batman. They are at the docks and find a clue to The Joker which is a fish made up to resemble a gruesome Joker and stuffed with a motion sensitive explosive. Grayson fiddles with the fish-bomb but triggers it… thus killing him leaving Damian to wallow in hate for Joker and forcing Damian to make some tough decisions in regards to his future. He visits Talia and Ra’s and they reject his pleas for help as he decided to follow the Batman lineage and reject the league of assassins. Damian then goes on a rampage murdering crooks and criminals that he suspects could have been responsible for Batman’s death. When Bruce Wayne gets wind of this he pays Damian a visit and they brawl over Damian killing.
The book from this point forward shows you Damian’s ascent into Batman-hood as he then fights his inner demons of killing vs. saving/redeeming, as well as fights an old demon who just doesn’t seem to want to disappear… namely The Joker. In the future (in Kubert’s book) Damian dons his version of the Batman suit, he then grows into his own person and ultimately ends up killing a second fake/doppleganger Joker, to find out at the end of this story that the original Joker is still alive and out to mess with Damian Batman. This all being related to Grant Morrison’s run of Batman, the trade paperback included issue #666 which featured Batman Damian taking down a villain who claims to be related to the occult and has apparently killed 5 major crime bosses revealing a big evil pentagram in Gotham. This was a really cool way to tie in Kubert’s work to his and Grant Morrison’s Batman run all while giving some depth into Damian Batman and connect to existing cannon. That being said, it seemed most of the hostility towards this book came from people who read the Grant Morrison & Andy Kubert’s Batman and decided things didn’t line up exactly so they reviewed the book with ratings.
After reading this book I must say that the poor reviews are unjustified as people are mostly upset about the book and it’s connected story. The only justified complaint that shone through was that the book ended abruptly and with more questions than answers as the real Joker is standing above his doppelganger Joker who had just been beaten close to death by Damian Batman… and then proceeds to put a bullet in his minion’s head. This left me with an urge to keep reading but sadly this is the end of that story and we will never get to see how Damian deals with fighting the real Joker… but that is no reason to rate this book poorly. I would honestly give this book high praise for just diving in cold turkey, but if you really care about this one-shot story and how it fits into the old Batman cannon I would simply ignore that and just enjoy the story for what it is. I give this book a 7/10 Joker-fish!!!
~ Tyler Head
*now enjoy some pictures from the end of the trade paperback and of Batman issue #666*