The previews for DC's May solicitations are making it pretty clear: Something awful is about to happen to Batman.
And it's looking more and more like it's centered on Damian Wayne.
There have been clues for awhile that Damian's story would be taking center stage soon in the Bat-books. It's something we at Newsarama first started pointing out in August last year. Then it kept knocking at the back of our brain when we were considering the possible fallout of "Death of the Family."
And now it's a certainty: Damian Wayne, the son of Batman, is being set up for a major challenge in Batman, Incorporated And the results of battle will seriously affect Batman.
The Big FinaleDamian Wayne's creator, Grant Morrison, finishes up his run on Batman, Incorporated in June. And he has always said that he would finish Damian's story arc at the end of his time on Batman.
"After the first year of Batman Inc.," Morrison told Newsarama way back in 2010, "my next big storyline is going to go back to focus on Damian a little bit.
"I do have big plans for Damian in the future," he said. "But I can't tell you what they are."
Recent issues of Batman, Incorporated have shown that Damian's story is heating up for an important moment in the next issue, February's #8. In our summary of January's Batman Incorporated #7, we made it clear that "things don't look good for the Bat-family. At. All." All three former Robins are facing a separate problem in Gotham, and Batman has been locked into a safe and thrown into a pool.
And who is rushing to save the day?
And what evil villain is he going to face?His own mother.
And even worse, his mom has replaced him with an evil Damian clone who is already an adult.
But the story alone isn't cause for concern for young Damian. Batman characters rush toward psychological and physical challenges all the time.
The cause for concern comes from all the hints we're seeing in interviews and upcoming solicitations:
Trail of Clues
You connect the dots:
Damian Absence: Although Damian Wayne has been featured on just about every cover of Batman and Robin since the title began, and quite a few for Batman Incorporated, he isn't anywhere to be seen in the covers for April and May. (And while it's possible he's on the other side of the gatefold cover of April's Batman and Robin #19, it's odd that a mere image of Damian would be seen as a "WTF" moment, which is the point of that month's hidden cover images.)Batman, Incorporated #8: The promo copy for the February issues says: "Everything Grant Morrison has been planning since the start of Batman, Incorporated leads to this stunning issue! You must not miss this one!.
Batman and Robin #18: The cover for the March issue features an iconic-looking image of Batman and Robin, with the copy, "You dare not miss this issue! It's the Batman and Robin story of the year!"
Batman, Incorporated future issues: Issue #9's tease for Morrison's story says, "The fallout from last month's shocking turn of events has Batman on the run! Is The Dark Knight a murderer?" Then issue #10 features an angry Batman on the cover and says, "When only one can survive, which will it be: the man or the bat?" Then Talia al Ghul is on the cover of issue #11 with copy that says, "Batman's world has been devastated by his war against Talia, but is he willing to give up on his own humanity?"
Future Batman family issues: One look at March covers for anything involving Batman makes it clear he's not a happy camper. And the language in the promo copy? "On the darkest of nights..." and "Where is Batman...?" are clues that something is amiss.May's Batman and Robin solicitation: In issue #20 of B&R, Bruce apparently doesn't team with Damian like usual. No, he turns to Jason Todd, of all people. The copy says, "The massive fallout from the recent events in Batman, Incorporated take Batman to the very limits of his sanity... will The Red Hood pull him back — or push him over the edge?"
Morrison's promised "wreck": Morrison has said that Damian's story won't end well: "It's about making the whole thing come full circle," Morrison told CBR in August. "I just focused it down on Damian and who he is — the trouble this has all caused him and the trouble it continues to cause through these next few issues until it kind of wrecks everything."
Batman and Robin's "Uber-story": Writer Peter Tomasi has told Newsarama — on more than one occasion — that he has an "uber-story" planned for Batman and Robin, which indicates something major coming for the Damian-focused series.
"In the next few months," Tomasi told Newsarama in December, "people will see it's a big, uber story, and what it all means. And where it all goes. It'll be interesting to see people's reaction to everything, as the next couple months come to a close... 2013 has a lot of big stuff coming. I can't even hint at it. It's that intense and that big. So any kind of small, little clue would break the internet apart."
The ConclusionsWe admit, the hints are pretty vague, and they could point toward a lot of story possibilities. But at the very least, there's going to be a big turning point in the story of Damian and Bruce Wayne.
Will he go back to his mother, perhaps in a sacrificial move to save his father?
Will he kill his evil clone and be forced to let Batman take the rap for the murder?
Or will Damian (as some bloggers are now starting to fear), actually die at the hands of his mother and/or father?
The first pages of Batman, Incorporated #1 showed Bruce Wayne at a graveyard. Bruce was so sad as he stood there that he said he would quit being Batman. Most Batman aficionados assumed Bruce was looking at the graves of his parents — a scene we've seen again and again in Batman's life. But could the death that brought him to the graveyard be his son?
"Killing off" Damian Wayne is something Morrison has considered before, but he's implied that he abandoned the idea. "When I first introduced [Damian], I figured I was going to kill him off at the end of that first four-part story," Morrison once revealed to Newsarama. "I thought people would hate him so much. I thought I'd do one of those classic stories where the little bad guy in the last act suddenly does a wonderful thing and sacrifices his life and saves the world and you feel sorry for him. But then I thought, no, this character has a lot more potential."I thought, 'I'm going to make everyone love this character, because I think there's some big potential here,'" he said. "It's really worked out. He's really become quite a breakout character from the series.
"But yeah, once I realized that I was going to keep the kid alive, it was always my intention to put him through a big, big story arc that would end up with him being one of the great heroes of the DC Universe."
With Morrison apparently finishing his story arc for Damian currently, the only hint he'll give for how things go for the child: "What I'm aiming toward now was always implicit in the beginning," the writer told Newsarama.
The last time Newsarama seriously considered the results of the "big turning point" for Damian (back in August 2012), we wondered if Damian's role as Bruce's sidekick might be filled — at least temporarily — by the mysterious Harper Row. The character was featured in Batman #12 and will be the focus of the upcoming March issue, Batman #18.
But solicitations indicate that there will be a much bigger impact on Bruce's life than just losing a "sidekick." This is his son. Whatever happens to Damian — whether it's the boy's choice or a forced change in status quo — it will affect his father deeply.Batman has also been shown as having an important role in the upcoming DC event "Trinity War." In the May 2012 teaser image for the event, he is carrying Pandora's box on his back. And as Newsarama pointed out at the time, it's obvious that the heroes are on different "sides," which points toward a Justice League civil war.
It's possible that the word "Trinity" is included in the title of "Trinity War" because it's a war between Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Might they pick different sides in the conflict? And would Batman's new status after his emotional story with Damian open the door for him siding against Superman and Wonder Woman?
This all adds up to a whole lot of guessing, we admit, but there's one thing that doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out: Fans of the relationship between Damian and Bruce Wayne will want to check out what happens in Batman, Incorporated #8 and Batman and Robin #18.
Like any good detective story worthy of the name Batman, the clues for this story are adding up to something worth watching closely.
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