In many ways, Damian Wayne is the reason I started to care about Batman again. Throughout the 1990s and the early part of the 2000s, the world of Batman felt stagnant, the same characters doing the same shit and nobody being willing to change things. But then Grant Morrison and Damian came along, and things started moving again. Of course, I was sad when Morrison killed off Damian in Batman Inc, but it was his creation, and his story, and I accept that, but that doesn’t mean I’m not pleased as punch that one of Damian’s co-creators has returned to tell an out-of-continuity story with him. It’s just a shame that it’s not Morrison that’s come back, but Andy Kubert, the artist who first drew the character way back in Batman #655.
I am being a bit harsh, as Kubert’s art here is fantastic, he’s always been excellent, but I really am loving the fact that little bits of his legendary dad, Joe Kubert’s style is seeping into his work. Part of that was because Joe had been inking him, but that’s still continuing on after Joe’s death, which is great to see. But as good as the artwork is here, I don’t think Andy is much of a writer at this point, of course, this book isn’t bad per se, it’s just a bit boring and average. I will say that I will be buying the rest of this series, and that Kubert should be given time to grow as a writer, like his dad did, but if you’re looking for something on a par with what Grant Morrison did with Damian, then this ain’t it. But as I said, it is well worth reading for the art.
The plot here is pretty simple, in this alternate reality, Damian didn’t die, and is still Robin as an older teenager. As he and Batman investigate a mass of dead bodies and fish down at the docks, Batman sees one of those famous ‘Joker Fish’, which explodes and kills him. Yep, Batman is dead. Damian is of course pretty pissed off, and he goes to see his mother and grandfather, Talia and Ra’s Al Ghul to ask for the help from the League Of Assassins to get revenge on whoever killed Batman. They refuse, and cut ties between the League and Damian. Interestingly, Ra’s tells Damian that he should become the new Batman, which he refuses. Why would one of Batman’s biggest enemies want a new Bats? I like it when Ra’s is a bit unpredictable and weird like this.
So, as his other family has refused his help, Damian tries to take revenge on his own. In what is probably the worst part of the issue, he goes after all of the villains who claim to have killed Batman, and kills them. I don’t have a problem with this idea really, but it’s the way Kubert did it, with the likes of Mister Freeze and Killer Croc claiming they killed Batman on some kind of villains-only version of Facebook, which is just stupid, even for Batman villains. At least Jackanapes went to the papers. In another weird scene, Damian goes to Catholic Confession, to, duh, confess his sins, and it seemed liked the Priest here was meant to be Commissioner Gordon, which also, makes little sense. After this, Alfred confronts Damian with his suspicions about who’s been killing all these villains, and goes on about how Batman was against killing, blah blah blah. Damian storms off, saying he doesn’t need Alfred, and that he’s going to find The Joker, but then… Batman shows up, completely alive.
It’s quite a surprising ending, and I am interested to see what that deal is (he’s probably a clone made by Ra’s), and there is the fact that the person who ‘killed’ Batman probably isn’t The Joker, but really, the story here is kind of dumb. It all depends on the next few issues if it’s the good kind of dumb or the bad kind of dumb. I wouldn’t exactly recommend this book, but the art is amazing, if you like Damian as much as me, certainly pick it up, but don’t go expecting Morrison is all.