In case any of you are wondering if I'm still doing reading and reviewing issues in chronological order, I want to reassure you that I am. However, I skipped reviewing issue #7 of this title for a good reason: IT SIMPLY DID NOT MAKE ANY SENSE TO ME WHATSOEVER. Basically, it was the fifth installment of the ROBIN WARS arc and a tie-in to another series called Gotham Academy. I am not reading that so I don't know what is happening in the Robin Wars. Gleason's issue covered Damian's return to Gotham and him joining forces with other Robins to fight the Court of Owls. That's about it. There's a weird moment with Dick Grayson and an Owl member, and how said member claimed that Damian was chosen as the new son for the Court--yeah, I didn't understand any of it so let's just skip to the next issue.
This issue was written and drawn by contributing writer and artist Ray Fawkes and Ramon Bachs respectively while Mat Lopes is the colorist. I know Fawkes from his work in Batman Eternal. Even though Gleason didn't write this, Fawkes did continue with yet another tale from the road to atonement that Damian has started to make up for his atrocities during the Year of Blood. This time he was going to return another stolen artifact to its rightful temple. It's called a 'bloodless blade'. He narrates this story as Alfred tries to give him a haircut, by the way. So we get to see more Maya Ducard (NoBody's daughter) and Goliath some more as they helped Damian get to the temple. I really love this trinity like nobody's business! I think they're badass and Damian softens a little around there.
' So much of what I did in the Year of Blood must be corrected. I went far down the path my mother laid out. I did not want to become the man she envisioned. '
The thing about Damian Wayne, however, is that he's unaccustomed to expressing emotions in general. He had many tear-jerker moments back in Tomasi's Batman and Robin, but it's great to be reminded here in this title that he's still a kid (now eleven years old, yay!) whose emotional growth has been stunted and twisted into something dark and malicious. Good thing his father found him and Damian decided to take a different, more righteous path by becoming Robin. The reason I bring this up again is because this issue focused on Damian's 'worst self'--in another future where he fulfilled his role as heir to the Al Ghul empire. The heroic spirit who Damian stole from has shown him that bleak possibility as soon as he returned the bloodless blade. Maya and Goliath also encountered versions of themselves who have given in to the route of revenge as was postulated due to the fact that they both lost their families by Damian's former murderous persona. The angle of the story reminded me of the horror film The Babadook, in such a way that the heroic spirit is simply trying to show Damian that a dark version of him will always exist inside him.
It calls to memory how the protagonist mother resolved the conflict in the aforementioned horror film by having to reconcile with her bad impulses because the film itself pushes on the idea that "the more you deny it, the stronger it gets." To defeat this demon, we must learn to accept that it's always going to be a part of who we are.
Damian--and to a lesser extent, Maya and Goliath--has once again come to terms with this tragic reality as we all should; we are always ripe for the taking and one wrong decision from turning into our worst selves.
I enjoyed this story a lot because I am still loving the ongoing adventures of Damian with his atonement for the Year of Blood, so I definitely want to see more of him doing this with Maya and Goliath. He did tell Alfred at the last page that there is still more work to be done for him. That road to atonement is not over just yet. I really can't wait to read more issues from this title. I'm telling you, guys! This is a great year to be a Damian Wayne fan!