Requiem for Damian Wayne

We’ve already featured reviews for Batman and Robin 18 and Batman, Inc 9 on the website, and I thought that those issues were so strong that I would check out the other comics in the “Requiem” fall-out. With it being the end of the month, I figured I would pick up all the other issues in this fallout, and give my thoughts on how it was handled.

One of the leisure/downsides of having a death in the Bat-books is that you have a lot of books to cover the aftermath. If you have a ton of interesting and compelling stories, it makes for a great read for the audience, if you don’t really have much.. it just seems like you’re stretching to fill out content. “Requiem” sadly feels more like the latter than the former.

Before I jump into the stories though, let’s back-up and set the stage. In addition to Damian’s death in Batman, Inc 8, the Bat-family is also coming off of the recent events of “Death of the Family” in the same month. A lot of the Requiem books kind of walk a line of having to deal with both events at the same time. There are any number of ways to label it, especially in light of DC’s recent turnovers, but we will just call it bad timing.

That said, I had nothing but praise to offer Batman and Robin 18 and Batman, Inc 9, and sadly it seems to be the extent of where Requiem really shines. I’ll touch on that in a bit, let’s go with what doesn’t work. Most of these stories only deal with the death in passing, and Catwoman doesn’t really deal with it at all. Part of that is because Catwoman doesn’t know Batman’s secret identity so the death of Robin or of Damian Wayne probably didn’t strike her as much as the other. Instead, this issue mostly deals with their relationship and the fallout from the Joker’s psychological games in “Death of the Family” arc.

All the wasted potential.

Next up is “Red Hood and the Outlaws 18″ which really had a ton of potential for a great story as Jason Todd is the only other Robin to die. He has an unique perspective that no other character shares, and it would have been interesting to see him and Bruce’s interactions since again, only other Robin Batman has failed. Instead, we get an issue where Jason spends the entirety of the issue in a self-induced coma, and fights with his own personal inner demons. This again is mostly focused on the events of “Death of the Family.” There are some decent moments between Bruce and Jason, but it’s more of a promise of the dynamic of their relationship than healing over mutual loss.

I really don’t know the relationship between Barbara and Damian too much so Batgirl was an odd read for me.. in this specific regard. It makes sense that Barbara was more concerned with how Dick was doing than anything since they’ve always been close, but that was the closest we got to the subject matter. This book also featured very little in the way of fallout from the Joker’s action. It has a story to tell and speeding right through these events, and sometimes that needs to happen.

More than any book in this “Requiem” line, I think Teen Titans pissed me off the most. The book starts really strong. Perhaps, one of the stronger scenes across the line. Tim and Damian have always had a very antagonistic relationship. It always made for some fun interactions, but as Tim breaks down he confesses that he felt Damian should have never been Robin. He should have never been out in the streets risking his life, and Tim should have never failed him like so many other teen heroes. After that, there is a nice scene with Alfred where he says Tim doesn’t need to mourn alone, and perhaps it is time he opens up to his team. Foolish me though the rest of the issue would deal with that, Tim opening up to his teammates and them consoling him. Instead, it shifts gears and becomes a break-in comic.. yeah if felt like an odd disconnect. It’s like they wanted to mention Damian’s death and then move on as quickly as possible. I think it was a bad call!

Batman 18 is a tough thing to gauge honestly. Coming in the same day as Batman and Robin 18, and really where the bulk of “Death of the Family” fall-out should have been, it really does neither of those things well. Instead, it seemed extent on building up this new character, who’s origins right now seems to be a combination of Jason Todd and Tim Drake, as a potential new Robin. I get it, and I do hope that this book is throwing us a red herring with her, but it didn’t seem like the right time to do it. Bruce, more than any other character, should be grieving. Though it does give us the emotional unstable and a lot more aggressive Batman.

Finally, we start to head into the territory that focuses on this death and is done extremely well. First, Batman, Inc 9 and Nightwing 18 both do something that most other books failed at, it had the emotional punch that was needed in the wake of Damian’s demise while also pushing forward the story through this arc. I mentioned in my review for Batman, Inc 9 that Morrison did a great job of weaving multiple narratives and making them all feel connected. All of it was centered around the events at Wayne Tower, and the place of Damian’s death.

Nightwing 18 on the other hand… reminds us that everyone grieves and remembers differently. It kind of reminds me of the episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, The Body, in which Buffy has to deal with the fact that her mother is dead. Nightwing, much like most of the Bat-family, has suffered great loss before, but unlike Bruce he didn’t make it define him. Instead, he used it as motivation. This issue deals with that similar theme. How do you allow death not to define you while still trying to properly mourn your loss? Should you hide your emotions? It asks a lot of questions without actually asking these questions, and does a decent job of answering. It also ends on a bittersweet note, but it’s very unique to the characters.

And of course, the crown jewel of the “Requiem” line is Batman and Robin 18. Ultimately, it could have been the only book in the line and would have been just as content. It does a powerful job of really making you feel for the character and the supporting cast (in this case Bruce and Alfred). It does it only through body language and facial expressions, and it packs an emotional punch that will leave you drained by the end.

All in all, the “Requiem” line had a lot of potential that just seemed to be squandered, right and left. There were chances for really strong stories in “Red Hood” which never materialized, and a chance for Tim to open up in the pages of “Teen Titans” but that just vanishes. Even Damian’s own father is busy preparing a new sidekick in the main Bat-book. As far as I can tell, Batman: The Dark Knight (Why is this book even needed?) doesn’t even touch on it! And while having more than half a dozen books featuring the fallout sounds awful on paper, it wasn’t the quantity of the stories that ruined this, but the fact that they really didn’t address it in any meaningful way in more than half the books.

While DC may have mostly dropped the ball, here’s to Batman and Robin, Nightwing and Batman, Inc 9 giving a proper send-off to our most recent Robin.

We’ll miss you, Damian Wayne… for now!

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