BATMAN INC. #8 Artist 'Certainly Hopes' Events Permanent

[We're still fighting the good fight but swimming upstream by trying not SPOIL anything for those determined not to have it spoiled, so consider this your WARNING, folks.]

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Before artist Chris Burnham even began drawing Damian Wayne in the pages of Batman, Incorporated, he knew the young Robin would one day die.

Now that DC has confirmed that Robin would die in this week's Batman, Incorporated #8, Burnham is confirming it as well.

And for those who think it might all be a trick, Burnham is making it very clear that the death is as real as comic book deaths get: "Damian Wayne is as dead as Thomas and Martha," Burnham said.

 

The artist, who started working with writer Grant Morrison on Batman, Incorporated in 2011, talked to Newsarama about how he learned Damian Wayne would die, how he approached the character's final issue, and whether he thinks other creators might just revive the Robin soon.

Newsarama: Chris, how long have you know this was coming and what was your reaction when you first heard? And did it visually inform the way you've been drawing Damian and the series since, knowing there was a pall hanging over him?

Chris Burnham: I still have Grant's original outline for Batman Inc: Season 2 on my desktop, dated from April 13, 2011. So I've known for almost two years! Even way back in #6 of the first volume, I knew what was going to happen. So Bruce's line "And no. Not everyone is going to survive it" had extra significance for me. And will for you when you go back and reread it.

 

Now that I think about it, I guess I have never drawn Damian without the knowledge of his final fate. Ominous! For the most part I tried to concentrate on nailing whatever scene I was drawing rather than worrying about telegraphing the future. But in the new issue #6 when he meets Alfred the cat, I realized that I was probably drawing him with a smile for the first and last time. That was rough. I spent forever trying to get that smile just right.

I was sad when I found out about it, but it all seemed vague and impossible. And there was every chance that I would get fired long before it came time to draw the fateful issue! In the last few months I've tried to have fun with him while he lasted. He's by far my favorite character to draw in the book… I may have to start drawing Batman 5 heads tall and let the chips fall where they may!

Nrama: How did you visually approach this story in particular? Is there anything we should notice in your layouts of #8 or the artistic choices you made for the issue?

 

Burnham: I love tossing in visual callbacks to give scenes a little more added resonance for long time fans, and this issue certainly had a few of those. Let's see…

On page 10, Robin crashing through the window is supposed to echo the classic bat-through-the-window imagery from Batman's origin, and it's also an upside-down version of the page layout from a similar scene from Batman, Inc. #5 with future Damian's bat-glider.

On page 13, for the last-ever Dick Grayson/Damian Wayne team-up, I thought it would be bittersweet to really crank the fun dial all the way up so that the horrific finale would be made even worse by contrast. So I stole Frank Quitely's "Sssss BOOM" sound effects from the super fun first issue of Batman & Robin, as well as the sound effects and flying bodies from the intro to the Adam West Batman show.

What else? The big 20-panel fight scene is a callback to Cameron Stewart's work on Batman & Robin. Oh, Robin wasn't paralyzed by The Heretic breaking his back because he has that robotic spine. True story! Seriously, after you buy Batman Inc. trades for your whole family, go get Grant's Batman & Robin. Good stuff. (I actually suggested the line "Robotic spine, moron" but saner and balder heads prevailed.)

 

There's some other nuggets in there, too, but I'll leave them to the annotators.

Nrama: Any trepidations about having to talk about this days before the story can be read, and things like the cover leak from a week or so back?

Burnham: [Laughs.] Anyhow, I'm just glad I don't have to keep this secret any more.

Nrama: As a creator and a fan yourself, you know "death" isn't what it used to be in comics, so .. do you think Batman Inc. #8 will be the last time anyone draws Damian in a DC comic book other than in a flashback?

Burnham: I certainly hope so. I hope his death will inspire creators to come up with more bold new characters rather than crawl back to the well one more time. As far I'm concerned, Damian Wayne is as dead as Thomas and Martha.

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