Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Robin: Son of Batman by Patrick Gleason issue #9

After the Robin Wars installment in issue #7 that made no sense to me at all only because I wasn't reading the crossover title Gotham Academy which it belongs to; and issue #8's flashback to another Year of Blood expedition, we are finally back in real-time with this issue where Damian Wayne finally has to deal with the fact that not only was Batman replaced by someone who works closely with the police (former Commissioner Gordon himself) but also cope with the harsh reality that his father, Bruce Wayne, has lost all traces of his memories and identity and may possibly NEVER COME BACK.

That's the disheartening epiphany right there, man. Anyone who has read Peter J. Tomasi's outstanding Batman and Robin run knows that father and son has developed a really strong bond and connection that defied even death itself. Bruce went through so many lengths trying to reach out to his closed-off son and form a relationship with him built on partnership and trust, and Damian had it pretty rough as he struggled to temper his darker impulses as an Al Ghul. The ultimate test to their bond was when Damian was killed by the direct order of his own mother Talia, and Bruce having to pick up the pieces until he realized he could resurrect his son by going to another dimension. Once they were reunited, Bruce still had to help Damian adjust to his newfound superpowers, and this was when we have truly seen Bruce become a parent his own parents would have been proud of. 

Time and time again this duo demonstrated how much they love and can nurture each other, and so it was truly a heartbreaking direction to see Bruce losing himself completely and forgetting who he is after his final battle with the Joker in Scott Snyder's Endgame arc. While that storyline was going on, I've wondered where Damian was in all this (the answer, of course, is that he was trying to reform from the damage he inflicted in Year of Blood). Now he's back in Gotham (and handled whatever was going on during the Robin Wars) and has come face-to-face with a man he used to call his father.

The opening pages of this issue was so difficult for me to read, honestly. In this scene, Damian observes his father forlornly, who is now a changed man working at the Gotham recreational center with children and a woman from his past he is now in a serious, romantic relationship with. He looked happy and content, and Damian had no choice but to allow his father to live this second chance at life even if it meant he could never be a part of it. It says volumes to Damian's maturity, and testifies to how much he himself has changed. Instead of getting angry or trying to convince his father to remember and become Batman again, Damian opted to choose the more noble way--the loving way--and vowed to become Gotham's protector even if he has to do it alone.

Aside from its emotional sore point, nothing that important happens in this issue. Damian kicks ass and encounters two bro-criminals who keep calling each other "dude" while they're working on a mission together. I think they're called Snowfox and Wanderfox which are equally silly names. Upon confrontation, these two ijits sprayed Damian with a hallucinogenic and his visions are pretty much what you would expect from a boy who was raised to be a killer and has now learned to cope from the guilt of it all. His last hallucination of his father as Batman, reassuring him that he was never alone was a punch to the fucking heart and soul, but it was enough reassurance both for Damian and the readers that even though Bruce Wayne is no longer Batman, his legacy will forever live on with his son and heir. It's often hard for me not to get emotional with this stuff, okay? But I wasn't hurt with this development--there was actually relief on my end. I don't need any more reminders that Damian will carry on with his father's legacy because at this point in the narrative and his characterization, I trust Damian completely to make the right choices and prove that he is Bruce Wayne's son. The real Bruce Wayne may be truly dead and the man working in that recreational center is a brand new person, but Damian is never alone because he has Alfred, Goliath (WHO COMES BACK, SWOOPING IN TO SAVE THE DAY, mind you), and other people whom Batman inspired to keep fighting the good fight.

Another thing worth noting is that these bro-criminals were hired by Maya Ducard herself to get rid of her father's corpse and all his possessions so she can truly move on from being NoBody and be her own person. But these bros were determined to bring her back to the fold, and they totes blame Damian for making her see things in his perpective and forget vengeance altogether. Instead of contacting Maya and bothering her with this upsetting news, he chose to keep her in the dark so she can be safe and pursue whatever she wants to do with her second chance at life--which, of course, mirrored his decision with letting go of his father. Oh my god, how can an eleven-year-old kid be so damn heroic, especially someone who started out so twisted and seemingly beyond saving? I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, DAMIAN WAYNE! I hope that even after Gleason is done with this title, other writers will pick up this character and maybe, someday, he will be the one and only Batman. I can feel it in my bones that it's where he is heading to in the future. Damian was always meant for a greatness that entails for him to endure the harshest obstacles.

It has been a real treat for me to read Robin: Son of Batman for so many reasons. Aside from Gleason's glorious art and illustrations (plus Mick Gray's magnificent color palette), the writing itself is almost at par with Peter J. Tomasi, the original Damian myth-maker, and I can only hope it will get even better in the long run. GIMME MORE DAMIAN, PLEASE!


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