Graphic Novel Review – Batman and Son

Collecting: Batman (vol 1) #655-658, follow-up on #663-666

Original Release Date: 2006

Publisher: DC Comics

Character: Batman, Talia al Ghul, Damian Wayne, Robin (Tim Drake)

Writer: Grant Morrison (All-Star Superman, Final CrisisArkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth)

Art: Andy Kubert (Flashpoint, Origin, Marvel 1602)

SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):

Storyline – 7
Art – 9
Captivity and Length – 6
Identity – 7
Use of Medium – 8
Depth – 7
Fluidity – 7
Intrigue/Originality – 10
The Little Things – 8
Overall awesomeness – 8

Note: Be on the look-out for our film review of Son of Batman, which is loosely based off this book, soon.

Since the first issue of Batman in 1940, the Dark Knight has always had a Boy Wonder. Of course, the flamboyancy with which the character of Robin has been portrayed over seventy years ago has no place in the current era of comic books – especially in a Batman book. The Batman that we see in Batman and Son has lost one Robin to another team (Nightwing to the New Teen Titans) and buried another (Jason Todd), only to see him return from the dead (check our Batman: Hush review to catch up) as the sociopath Red Hood. So, suffice to say that even though he has let in a new ward, Tim Drake, into Bat-family, he’s had a fair amount of hesitation when allowing another child into the fold. What if he didn’t have a choice? What if this next recruit was his son – and not just any son, but the grandson of the Demon’s Head, Ra’s al Ghul? Enter Damian Wayne, son of Talia al Ghul.

talia kiss

Many avid readers know who Damian Wayne is. He’s the smart-ass, strategic and combative genius, groomed from his birth as a test tube baby to rule the world. Oddly enough, the character of Batman’s son was first brought up in an Elseworld (non-canon) title, Son of the Demon, in 1987. Here, though, he makes his first appearance in DC Universe canon. For those of us that followed his entire character development, up to and including his death in Batman Incorporated (which also came at the hand of the Cruel Grant Morrison), Batman and Son is a loud, annoying reminder is just what a little shit Damian can be. He is spoiled and disrespectful, and unfortunately has the skills to back up a lot of his bravado.

batman's son

 

The fact that he’s a pain in the ass isn’t all his fault. He has been bred to believe that he is the perfect genetic specimen and heir to taking over the world, so I guess a little precociousness is in order. Talia more or less dumps her own son in the lap of Batman because she can’t control him. In the most fiendish plot yet, she drops this little WMD in Wayne Manor to distract Batman while she causes all sorts of havoc on the side. It’s a pretty clever plot twist that really has no consequence on her end. A bulk of the focus is on Damian’s assimilation to the Bat-family. Spoiler – he does a very poor job at fitting in. Being trained by the League of Assassins doesn’t exactly prepare you for life with a benevolent father and pseudo family that Gotham offers Damian. Damian immediately spits on everything that Bruce stands for as a defender of the night. As endless as the Wayne’s wealth is, it is still nothing compared to being heir to the Demon Head.

handshake

Batman and Son is only four issues long, and its length really shows. We get to see the reason that the League has Man-Bats at their disposal, a legion that they still use. Yeah, Man-Bat ninjas are a little far-fetched, but these are Man-Bats we’re talking about in the first place. The set-up to the big reveal that Batman is the father was taken at face value; no DNA test, no genetics scanning, not even an episode of Maury was thought of to determine the truth. I find that hard to believe from the world’s greatest detective. By the time Damian and Batman are introduced to each other, we are half-way through the story. I also thought a lot of the internal monolog and the quips by Batman felt totally out-of-character, like lines that were supposed to go to Dick Grayson. Maybe the familiarity Batman has with Talia gives him loose lips, but it feels wrong throughout the book.

man bat ninjas

 

Damian’s character often give off mixed symbols throughout the story. He obviously wants his father’s approval, he rags on how lame everything about his father is. Kicking Tim Drake’s ass and taking up the mantle of Robin is a sweet yet super creepy way to try to gain Batman’s affection. When Damian takes the law into his own hands to thwart an enemy, he definitely goes too far. I know that Bats has to play by a different set of rules when dealing with the League of Assassins, but everybody seems to handle Damian’s extreme measures with much more grace than I expected. The ending seems like the typical cop-out ending where we experience the ambiguous deaths of the bad guys. This is far from the end of Damian, but this arc didn’t leave us wanting more of him (again, hindsight is 20/20).

he quit

At the crux of it, Batman and Son has a lot more shock value if you don’t know who Damian Wayne is, but for the majority of us that have watched him grow as a Robin and a person (my personal recommendation for Damian’s character growth is the New 52 story Batman & Robin Vol 1: Born to Kill arc), Batman and Son is a painful reminder of what an insufferable d-bag Damian started out as. After reading this, I often wonder if Dan Slott used Damian’s character as inspiration for the pompous Otto Octavius Spidey in Superior Spider-Man. Even with the great panels that Andy Kubert has crafted, Batman and Son can be summed up in a few pages. The fact that Batman has a biological son after all the decades of questionable relationships with young men is enough to warrant picking this up, but don’t expect to be blown away by Prince Wayne’s debut.

All media credited to DC Comics

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

 

Published by

Sherif Elkhatib

I like Batman.

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