If you managed to avoid yesterday's big news about "Batman Incorporated" #8, beware.
Here be spoilers!
As we learned from DC Comics, via the NY Post, current Robin, Damian Wayne is going to die in tomorrow's "Batman Incorporated" #8. One of the biggest questions brought up upon learning of the poor kid's demise is how it will affect Peter Tomasi's excellent "Batman and Robin" series. The relationship aspect of that series is what makes it stand out from all other Bat-family books. Tomasi gets the dysfunctional father-son dichotomy. He took what Grant Morrison created and ran with it, showing us a realistic, entertaining, and occasionally sweet dynamic for the dynamic duo. One not seen even at the peak of the Bruce/Dick Grayson partnership.
Peter Tomasi spoke with Newsarama about the future of his Bat-book, and touched on what his intentions for the two characters had been from the start. He said:
The journey boiled down to nature versus nurture and going from resentment to respect, to fighting inner demons, as well as outer ones, through a gauntlet of evil and horror that always threatened to pull him into a black hole, but in the end becoming a hero in his father's eyes in more ways than one. Damian was wrestling with himself, against his own natural instincts that were ingrained in him under Talia's harsh upbringing.
The arc/journey of Damian and Bruce's relationship went from seeing Bruce/Batman as an iconic legend to eventually loving and respecting him simply for the fallible and all too human man he is.
But now -- as of tomorrow -- Damian is gone. The Robin from "Batman and Robin" is no more. How does this change things? Is the book canceled? Will there be a new Robin? Will the book be retitled?
In the same interview, Tomasi cleared up some of the issues about the upcoming "Batman and Robin" issues. First off, "Batman and Robin" #18, the first post-Damian death, will be completely silent. Not a word of dialogue will be spoken. We'll simply watch Batman deal with the death of his son through the art of Patrick Gleason. Tomasi said:
No word balloons, no sound effects, no nothing, just the amazing artwork of Patrick Gleason pouring his heart out onto the page. It had me choking up when I saw the pencils. I'm hoping we can run the script and the penciled pages when the story is collected.
This will kick off the next story arc that will mostly center on Bruce and Alfred dealing with the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance).
Then, each successive issue will come with a new title as Batman teams up with a former Robin. Issue 19 will be called "Batman and Red Robin," 20 will be "Batman and Red Hood," and so on. We're not sure how long that device will continue, but I think we can assume that a new Robin will be crowned and the series will once again be called "Batman and Robin." I, for one, think Geek editor Valerie Gallaher is correct in speculating that Harper Row will assume the mantle of The Bird. That or Stephanie Brown is coming back.
In the interview, Tomasi mentions that he has big, epic plans for the series. So, as long as it sells of course, "Batman and Robin" -- or whatever it's called -- ain't going nowhere, which for this writer, is a very good thing, as "Batman and Robin" is the best Bat-book on the shelves. Though, I'm uncertain how I'll feel about it without Damian*. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.
*Until he comes back of course.