Our week long celebration of Robin’s 80th anniversary continues, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t spotlight Damian Wayne. We’re not kidding, Damian would not let us overlook him. Robin may think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread (because he’s all about slicing things), but we shouldn’t dismiss him. The story of the latest Robin is one of redemption, revival, and family. Let’s take a look at Damian’s journey...
The saga of Damian Wayne begins with a love story. For years Ra’s Al Ghul had been unsuccessful in his quest to make Batman his heir, and convince the Dark Knight to accept his daughter Talia’s hand in marriage. When a threat greater than Ra’s emerged in 1987’s Batman: Son of the Demon, the Dark Knight allied himself with Ra’s and finally agreed to his terms. Batman and Talia lived together for weeks as husband and wife (having previously been unofficially wed in DC Special Series #15), and she soon announced she was pregnant.
After being hospitalized, Talia lied to Batman and said that she lost the baby. The Dark Knight left Talia and Ra’s, and returned to Gotham. Nine months later, a couple visited an orphanage and adopted a baby. Batman: Son of the Demon can unofficially be considered Damian’s first appearance, although some of the continuity details have changed over time. Before Grant Morrison revisited the idea of Batman and Talia’s son, the story had a tricky place in continuity, with most writers choosing to ignore it. The alternate future story Kingdom Come introduced a grown-up version of Batman and Talia’s son named Ibn al Xu’ffasch, which translates to Son of the Bat. Ibn’s story was fleshed out in The Kingdom: Son of the Bat #1. In some ways Ibn can be seen as a prototype for Damian, but don’t mistake them for the same character. Damian Wayne had his own unique attitude, as readers learned when they formally met him in 2006.
BATMAN AND SON
In Batman #656, Talia turned Bruce’s life upside down when she left their son in his care. Batman had been unaware of the 10 year old boy’s existence, and now he was tasked with reigning in a child who had never been disciplined. Damian threw tantrums in Wayne Manor, and made life difficult for everyone around him. Because Damian had been raised by the League of Assassins, he was a proficient fighter, but he relied heavily on lethal force. Tim Drake was horrified to learn that Damian had beheaded the Spook, one of Batman’s enemies, in Batman #657.
Talia resurfaced in Batman #658, revealing that she had placed Damian with Batman to distract him while she carried out her plans, but also in the hopes that the three of them could become a family. Batman refuses, and Talia disappears with Damian after an explosion. Damian returned to the League of Assassins, but longed to be with his father again. Damian encountered Batman and his partners again when his grandfather Ra’s Al Ghul attempted to possess his body in Detective Comics #838, and when an organization called the Black Glove attacked Gotham in Batman: R.I.P.. After Bruce Wayne seemingly died during the events of Final Crisis, Talia left Damian in the care of Dick Grayson and Alfred Pennyworth. Damian finally got his wish to be an official part of the Bat-Family, but Dick and Alfred had their work cut out for them.
THE NEW DYNAMIC DUO
After Bruce Wayne’s disappearance, Dick became the new Batman and made Damian his Robin in 2009’s Batman and Robin #1. Dick knew that if Damian didn’t receive guidance, he would continue down his dark path. The new Robin was resistant Batman’s leadership, and forcing Dick to earn his respect. In a strange way, this was an inverse of the typical Batman and Robin dynamic. Now Robin was the grim and serious one, while Batman was more light-hearted.
The new Dynamic Duo grow as a team after they take down Professor Pyg, and Dick notices that Damian is beginning to show more restraint and compassion. Robin is surprised after Batman saves him, and starts to realize that Dick will never give up on him. For the first time, Damian begins to feel a sense of family. After Talia tries to take control of Damian’s body to use as a weapon against Dick Grayson, Robin begins to feel alienated towards his mother.
As Damian distances himself from his mother’s side of the family, he starts to embrace his father’s legacy. Damian publicly reveals himself as Bruce Wayne’s son in 2010’s Batman and Robin #10, and tells the board of directors at Wayne Enterprises that he’s in charge now. In Red Robin #12 Damian continues his campaign by filing a lawsuit against Tim Drake, attempting to unseat his position as heir to Wayne Enterprises.
When Bruce Wayne returned he was surprised to see how much Damian had changed in his absence. For a time Bruce and Dick shared the Batman identity, and while Bruce traveled the globe to spread his Batman Incorporated initiative, Damian gladly remained in Gotham to work alongside Dick. The new Dynamic Duo had formed a bond, and neither of them were ready to end their successful partnership.
DEATH AND REVIVAL
After Dick Grayson became Nightwing again, and Bruce returned to Gotham, Damian found himself living with his father for the first time. Although he wasn’t the violent hothead he had once been, Damian was virtually a stranger to Bruce. Batman hadn’t been around for most of Damian’s childhood, and Bruce struggled to relate to his son. The 2011 Batman and Robin series by Peter J. Tomasi detailed their difficult relationship as they learned how to be both father and son, and the Dynamic Duo.
The struggles paid off, and Robin began to feel connected to his father for the first time, but tragedy soon struck. Talia had engineered a clone of Damian called Heretic. Robin lost his life in 2013’s Batman Incorporated #8. While the Bat-Family was devastated, Talia reacted coldly, stating that Damian had betrayed her by siding with the Dark Knight. When Bruce learned that there was a way to bring his son back, he worked tirelessly to achieve this goal. During an event called “Robin Rises” Batman donned Hellbat armor to storm Apokolips, where Damian’s corpse had been taken. Batman obtained a mystical item called the Chaos Shard, and was given the choice of saving his parents or his son. Bruce didn’t even have to consider it, and in 2014’s Batman and Robin #37, Damian was revived. After his resurrection, Damian starred in his own series called Robin: Son of Batman, where he used his second chance at life to atone for his past mistakes, and ponder what his new destiny would be.
TEEN TITAN AND SUPER SON
For Damian’s 13th birthday his grandfather sent him an unexpected gift – a dead robin (Teen Titans: Rebirth #1). Damian’s cousin Mara al Ghul was targeting the Boy Wonder as part of her initiation into the League of Assassins leadership, but Robin wasn’t the only target. Mara’s group, known as the Demon’s Fist, had targeted Kid Flash, Raven, Starfire, and Beast Boy. Robin brought the other heroes together, and formed his own group of Teen Titans in order to repel his cousin’s attack. It’s later implied in 2016’s Teen Titans #2 that Talia manipulated these events so her son could form strong friendships. It’s a twisted way to give someone a birthday gift, but Talia has never been a traditional mother. Robin had difficulty learning how to be an effective leader, and there was some growing pains and lineup changes, but in the end the Teen Titans helped Damian grow into a better person.
Robin seemed to be making lots of new friends during this period, and in 2016’s Superman #10 he became formally acquainted with Jon Kent, the son of Superman. Things got off on the wrong foot, with Damian kidnapping Jon, strapping him down in the Batcave, and declaring him a menace to society. Robin had made some strides in his social skills, but we never said he was perfect. Damian had been concerned about the lack of control the new Superboy had with his powers. Batman and Superman decided that their sons would benefit from spending more time together, and the Super Sons partnership was born. They may not be the World’s Finest team yet, but even Batman and Superman took some time before they became buddies. Robin has a hard time admitting it, but he truly does consider Superboy his best friend.
Robin has come a long way from the petulant kid who Talia dropped off in Gotham. He was once an anti-social narcissist who nobody wanted to work with, but now he’s built a circle of friends who value his leadership. While the Teen Titans may find his arrogance insufferable, they trust Damian with their lives and back him on the battlefield without hesitation. Damian Wayne’s story as Robin is still being written, but it’s clear that like his predecessors, the current Boy Wonder is destined for greatness.
TOMORROW: We’ve spent a lot of time on the Boy Wonders, and now it’s time to bring on the girls. Get ready for girl power, because tomorrow we’ll be spotlighting Stephanie Brown and Carrie Kelley.
BONUS: DAMIAN WAYNE TIMELINE
* Batman: Son of the Demon – Batman and Talia attempt to live together as husband and wife. Talia tells Batman she’s pregnant, but later tells the Dark Knight that she lost the baby. Months after their marriage dissolves, a baby is left at the doorstep of an orphanage.
* Batman #655-658 – Damian, who is now 10 years old, meets his father for the first time when Talia places him in Batman’s care.
* Batman #676-681 – Damian helps the Bat-Family during the Black Glove’s assault on Gotham. Damian leaves the League of Assassins and permanently moves to Wayne Manor following this story.
* Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1-3 – Dick Grayson becomes Batman after the disappearance of Bruce Wayne, and agrees to take Damian on as his Robin.
* 2009’s Batman and Robin #1 – The new Dynamic Duo begin their partnership.
* 2010’s Batman and Robin #10 – Damian reveals himself to the public as Bruce Wayne’s son, and tries to seize control of Wayne Enterprises.
* Teen Titans #88-92 – Sensing that Damian needs friends, Dick places him in the Teen Titans. It doesn’t go well.
* 2011’s Batman and Robin #1 – After Dick gives up the Batman mantle, Damian begins an uneasy partnership with his father.
* 2013’s Batman Incorporated #8 - Robin is killed while battling a clone of himself named Heretic.
* 2014’s Batman and Robin #37 – Batman uses the Chaos Shard to bring Robin back to life.
* Robin: Son of Batman #1-13 – Now that he’s been given a second chance, Robin re-evaluates his life, and tries to atone for his past mistakes.
* Teen Titans: Rebirth #1 – Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Robin recruits his own group of Teen Titans.
* 2016’s Superman #10-11 – Damian Wayne meets Jon Kent for the first time, beginning the legendary Super Sons partnership.
Are you a hardcore Robin fan, or just looking to learn more about the Boy Wonder? Check out all the Robin-centric activities that our clubs are running in the Community Events Calendar!