The Laird and the Boy Wonder
When I was a kid reading comics, Robin was always Richard “Dick” Grayson. An orphaned circus acrobat, taken in by Bruce Wayne as his ward, they fought crime together. Batman in the dark costume and Robin in the multi coloured one. It made sense to me as a child. Batman is my favourite Super Hero by a long mile.
Yet I never wanted to be Batman.
I always wanted to be the Boy Wonder.
I drifted out of comics for a while and when I got back into them, Robin was now dead. I had read Frank Millers “The Dark Knight Returns” a story set in the future where Batman has been retired for 10 years after the second Robin (Jason Todds) death. What I didn’t know at the time was that Jason was still very much alive at the time this was published and that his fate hinged on a phone vote but that is another story.
The third Robin was Tim Drake, an inquisitive young lad who had worked out Batman was Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson was now the superhero Nightwing. Since Tim had managed to do what no-one else had managed, he must have been some sort of uber genius!
Batman takes on Tim and he gets a new redesigned costume.
The R symbol was designed to look different too and almost 20 years later, was the first ever tattoo I got.
Tim was Robin for a long time and I drifted out of comics again.
When I returned, Tim was still Robin but in that time a female, Stephanie Brown, had taken on the role for a short time when Tim was off soul searching.
Interestingly, in the aforementioned Dark Knight Returns, the Robin of the future was a female. The wonderfully realised Carrie Kelly
Stephanie Brown returned to her previous Identity of Spoiler and was later killed in some multi part story (War Games I think) that I have only read bits of.
This has made me realise that when I stop reading comics a Robin (or former Robin) dies.
So Tim was Robin for a while and then the Glaswegian writer Grant Morrison started to write the Batman comic. The first four issues of his run introduced a child that Bruce had fathered with Talia Al Ghul, the daughter of his enemy R’as Al Ghul. Damian Wayne was soon claiming the mantle of Robin to fight alongside his father as he rejected the path that both R’as and Talia had planned for him. Tim became Red Robin and Jason rose from the dead to become The Red Hood. The Bat family now had all the former Robins (bar Stephanie) all active and fighting crime as part of the Batman Incorporated storyline.
(I have simplified the timeline but basically that is what happened!).
Damian was a 10 year old psychopath, who curtailed his natural killing instincts to prove himself to his father. He was unlikable at the beginning but the little bugger grew on me.
Maybe it was the way he referred to the rest of the bat family condescendingly by their surnames, well everyone except his dad.
Maybe it was his pet cat, which hated everyone and was vicious, yet he loved it.
Possibly it was because of this panel
All I can honestly say is that he became my favourite new character very quickly and stayed that way. What started out as a possible misstep in the Batman legacy, grew into a sensible, natural change. In Batman issue 666, the storyline was of a Future Batman and it was revealed that it was Damian under the cowl.
Last month, seemingly out of nowhere, in Batman Incorporated issue 8, Damian Wayne was killed.
I am still reading comics, this should not happen!
Now in the world of comics, nobody stays dead for long (Although in Barry Allen’s case he really had the best death ever and should never have been brought back into the Dc universe but that’s always going to be a sore point for me). So Damian may rise again.
Now I have reservations if he does. When he was written by Morrison, Damian was brilliant. A snotty, angry and potentially evil character but with a very strong moral code. When he was written by others, that was slightly diluted and as such he became just another superhero. If Damian does come back, I hope they don’t change him too much.
For now RIP Damian Wayne. You were a great boy wonder.