(This started as something I posted in a thread over on The Comic Forums. And it has SPOILERS for Batman Incorporated #8. So if this seems familiar somehow or reveals information you've managed to somehow avoid until now, well, you know why.)
Damn it, Morrison. Right in the feels.
Jason Todd's death
happened when I was 12, and even then it felt like a gimmick (with that
call-in vote, how could it not?). Damien's death could easily be seen
as being equally gimmicky - not to mention easily reversible, given his grampa Ras-al-Ghul's predilection for a nice reviving Lazarus Pit soak - but I give Morrison more credit than
that, since this does feel like the culmination, or at least the set up
of the culmination, of the story he's been telling since Batman and Son.
We've seen real growth in Damien in that time, from Morrison and
others (I loved how Bryan Q. Miller used him the Steph Brown Batgirl
book, for instance, which is one of the first places I remember seeing
him starting to occasionally act like an actual kid), and going from
stone cold killer to a kid pleading for his parents to stop fighting, and
who legitimately believed his mother wouldn't let him get killed, well,
that's a hell of an arc. It's also a powerful underscoring of the fact
that Batman's world will always be tragic.
It's a sad ending for a great character (no matter if it's certain, probable, or even just potential), but - and this can't be stated enough - it serves the story because it is an event that happens in the story, not the point of the story. But for once, I kinda wish it could be gimmicky. Gimmicky is easier to undo. I like the kid, and I don't want this to stick. If it does, I hope we at least see how this affects everyone
in Batman's world. Batman and Nightwing will be obvious places to see
this (Nightwing especially... oh, man, I loved reading Dick and Damien together, and they had such a great final stand together here) , and Batgirl, too, but how about even Worlds' Finest? Damien and
Helena met and bonded a few issues back, seeing as how they're
half-siblings a universe removed. She has already lost so much... how will this hit her?
And, of course, this makes me wish we had Stephanie Brown still around all the more. She was the one who was actually teaching Damian to be a kid, and they had a very complex relationship.
Damian was, in all likelihood, created with a definitive end point in mind. While I can't say he was my favorite Robin (that would be Tim), he was a great character, and I hope that in death he continues to serve stories to come as well as he did in life.
So like a lot of people on the inter-ma-nets (if the inter-ma-nets are to be believed), I haven't been entirely happy with DC's whole New 52 initiative. Don't get me wrong, some of it's quite good - Batman Incorporated picked up nicely where the previous series left off, the characterizations of (and camaraderie between) Power Girl and Huntress in Worlds' Finest have made that a fun "buddy" book, and what I've read of All Star Western has been compelling if weirdly lacking in the "Western" department. What I do take issue with tends to fall into four categories:
- Change for change's sake alone;
- Writing that equates shock value with plot development;
- Incredibly ugly costume designs; and
- Padded storyline after family-of-titles-wide crossover after padded storyline after...
All that being said, as many problems as I have with the New 52, I don't know that I want the pre-Flashpoint DCU back, either.
From at least Identity Crisis (though maybe a little further back than that) onward through Flashpoint, the folks at DC did a damn fine job of breaking a lot of their best toys. Batman makes a satellite and killer robots that go rogue; the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League characters are systematically dismantled, evilfied, or killed; Bronze age JLA stories are given one creepy retcon after another; Wonder Woman kills; Superman spends two years in real world publishing time pretty much not being Superman; the Marvel Family is sullied, evilfied, split, and given their superheroic pinkslips; Wally West takes a backseat to his kids and, later, his back-from-the-dead mentor... I could go on and on, but you get the point.
So when I heard about the reboot/relaunch/re-whatever, I was actually excited. I welcomed it. A chance to clear the table and start fresh wasn't just a good idea, but a necessary one. And the fact that I don't like a lot what they did with that restart doesn't in any way change my opinion that it was needed. Sure, I'd like to enjoy more of the new stuff, but I can take solace in 2 things.
First, a DC Universe that sadly lacks characters like the Dibnys is at least a DC Universe in which nothing bad has happened to them.
Second, just as before Flashpoint, there are still places to get a DC Universe that is closer to one I can enjoy, thanks to the various cartoons and, thankfully, that third DC book still on my pull list, Legends of the Dark Knight. The list of creative talent is impressive, the stories are short, free from continuity, and most of the characters, situations, and designs that had gone away are back on the table. It's fantastic. Read it.
(I'm hoping to similarly enjoy Adventures of Superman, at least once they're past that Orson Scott Card material. Bring on that Jeff Parker story!)
Long story short (WAY too late), change isn't always good, but sometimes it's still necessary, and we need to deal with that.
Not sure how frequently that will happen, when it will even start, or if there's anyone still out there see / hear / experience them, but so be it. This was always more for me than anyone else, so why change that now?
Also trying to see if I want to keep the old posts accessible or make this a completely clean start. I don't know yet, we'll see.
Suggestions, as always, are appreciated.