On Robins and Their Impending Extinction

Don’t be alarmed bird lovers. This isn’t a post about the adorable red-bellied birds that crop up during the spring time. The Robins I’m referring to are the joke-cracking, high-flying sidekicks that keep Batman young.

And if you have no desire to know this week’s biggest comics spoiler, then you definitely don’t want to read this story from The New York Post, and you definitely don’t want to keep reading this post.

But you couldn’t resist, could you?

Anyway, the big deal is that Damian Wayne, Batman’s semi-psychotic biological son has been killed off in this week’s issue of Batman Incorporated.

I think it’s somewhat fair that Grant Morrison gets to kill off a character that he created way back in his Batman and Son story arc. Yet I still think that the DC editors missed their mark on this death.

Only two weeks ago, they wrapped up the uber-hyped crossover Death of the Family arc in which the Joker returned and unleashed his signature brand of murderous mayhem on all of the Batman family members. The folks at DC were promising fans a Joker story unlike any Joker story that had been told before with an ending that would leave all of our Bat heroes changed forever.

Then it (SPOILERS!) ended like any other Joker story. Each one of the main characters was alive and physically intact, the Joker’s body was never found, and they all left the Joker’s cave of horrors emotionally traumatized to be sure, but Batman and crew have new scars carved in their hearts at least once a week. The Joker just made the cuts a little deeper than usual.

So why didn’t they have the Joker kill Damian? The set-up was darn near perfect for it, and the death of Robin would have certainly given that arc the universe-changing impact that all the marketing materials were promising to fans. And because a lot more fans seemed to be paying attention to the Joker arc, Damian’s death would have been more meaningful.

It would have been really hard to write in Talia’s reaction to her son’s death in that arc, and to be fair to Grant Morrison, the kid’s death fit well with his story line in Batman Incorporated. Yet it still irks me that this planned death may have been the reason why the DC editors didn’t sign off on the Joker inflicting pain on Batman in a truly memorable fashion.

Comics being comics, Damian is likely to come back in some form or another. With Al Ghul blood running in his veins, chances are higher than average that he’ll be resurrected. Heck, it might even happen in the next issue. That would be a real shame, as it would show, once again, that a death in comics means diddly squat.

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