Feb 24, 2014

Irrational Love for Damian Wayne

Irrational Love for a DC Character!
Ben Smith

There are many characters I irrationally love, as evidenced by my bonafide affection for Squirrel Girl. However, this particular character I’m going to discuss today is probably somewhat more rational than those other irrational loves. He may or may not have ended his run more beloved than not. If so, consider it irrational in the sense that I’m a Marvel fan that is actually going to write something in appreciation of a DC character (and a Grant Morrison one at that!). Today I’m going to talk about my affection for Damian Wayne, easily the most interesting Robin in Batman history.

Most of you that read my drivel on an ongoing and reoccurring basis, know that I have two young sons. So it’s not any mystery to say that my connection to the character of Damian, no matter how irrational it may or may not be, has very much to do with me seeing him as the damaged little boy that he is. I can understand him in ways that maybe other readers can’t, or don’t bother to. Young boys, no matter how much you love them, can be frustrating sometimes, or annoying, or rebellious. They’re boys. Add on to that, Damian was trained and manipulated by a crazy woman to be an assassin, a heartless killer. He was pretty much abused from the moment he was hatched, and he just doesn’t know any better.

But he learned, and he grew, and that’s what makes me love him so much.

My favorite Damian stories came in the New 52 Batman and Robin series by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. Damian had taken over the role of Robin following the “death” of Bruce Wayne, while Dick Grayson became his Batman. After a rough start, Damian came to respect and trust Dick Grayson, but then his father eventually returned.

We see in this series the adjustment period that Damian and Bruce both have to go through. Damian has to deal with Bruce’s more authoritarian style of crime-fighting and mentorship, as opposed to Dick Grayson who is much less grim and a lot more patient.

Meanwhile, Bruce sees Damian as another kind of problem that needs fixing, with Alfred having to occasionally remind him that he’s just a boy, not a piece of equipment.

So, we have a father that doesn’t easily give his approval, and a son that desperately needs some, no matter what he says otherwise.

Which doesn’t always make for a healthy situation.

Damian, once again, disobeys orders to try and handle a conflict against the son of Henri Ducard, going by the name Nobody, all by himself. As Batman races to save his son from torture at the hands of Nobody, I could feel the anguish and immediacy in the moment. There’s absolutely no way I could handle having to listen to my son being hurt without being able to do something about it.

Batman saves Damian, but not before his son makes a regrettable mistake.

As Batman carries him away, Damian apologizes to Batman for letting him down.

Even more heart-rending was the conversation that takes place later. Damian finally expresses his true feelings for his father, and how much he looks up to him.

While Bruce finally relaxes the Batman façade long enough to be a father.

“Don’t give up on me” is the type of thing that will get to me every single time.

Damian would go on to learn how to be a better teammate, a better son, a better hero. While all the time still maintaining that rebellious edge that made him the best Robin.

The relationship he had with Dick Grayson, was one I especially loved seeing explored. Dick seemed to get him better than anyone else, and had the easiest time relating to him.

This moment, in particular, was especially touching, just moments before Damian fell in battle.

The subsequent issues dealing with the Bat-family’s loss and anguish over the death of Damian are almost too affecting for me to cover. They hit me in that one sweet spot of my heart that still feels emotions, and the emotions are strong.

A lot of people might look down on another person that has a particularly strong connection to fiction. Whether it be comic books, or Harry Potter, or Twilight, or Star Trek, fans are often made fun of for being so attached to something that isn’t even real. But while the stories themselves might not be real (or even realistic) the emotions they can inspire are very much are real, and that’s what makes a fan a fan. That’s what makes a story about a man wearing a bat costume, and his relationship with his genetically engineered and artificially aged son, something that I can write about how it affected me emotionally with the upmost seriousness.

I feel sorry for anyone that can’t find something that they’re passionate about like that. They can be grown-ups all they want, I’ll be over here reading comics and enjoying myself.

And you can read the saga of Damian Wayne here:

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