Bruce Wayne’s son, Damian, is a character that has divided fans for eleven years. The character we’ve come to know as Robin was created by Grant Morrison in 2006 (Batman #657). You either love him or hate him as the boy wonder. With DC Rebirth, Damian Wayne enters a new era, it’s time to win over the haters.
On the surface, Damian is a cold and calculated murder machine keeping his killer instincts at bay. A robotic little boy torn between the world of his mother (Talia Al Ghul) and his father (Batman). That tough exterior hides the innocent young man inside, eager to make his dad proud and eventually carry on his legacy.
More recently, Damian has been slowly been exposing his desire to just be a kid his age. Every scenario involving another super-powered person around his age is an opportunity for him to be a human being. Damian Wayne does not waste his opportunities. He’s secretly desperate to fit in and understand what being a kid is; and a human for that matter.
In Nightwing, Damian is currently partnering up with Dick Grayson, reliving their Batman & Robin days. His insistence to tag along on Nightwing’s very personal mission is like that of a nagging little brother. A highly relatable scene for most readers. He’s also obsessed with the notion that Dick wants to, once again, become Batman. He can’t stand for that, to him that’s the ultimate endgame. There’s no better way for anyone to earn Batman’s approval, which is his Damian’s top priority.
Nightwing brings out the sidekick dynamic and banter that made Morrison’s run a classic. Damian has his guard up constantly, Dick has the ability to get him to drop it. Their time together is always fun. Damian looks up to Grayson as his older brother, although he won’t admit it. His constant judgment and criticism masks his love and Dick knows it.
Teen Titans shows Damian emerging as a selfless leader of the young hero team. His teammates are quite skeptical, even hostile, towards him at first. He’s desperate to win them over, and to fit in with his peers. Super-powered kids are his only shot at having anything close to a friend. Damian mocks his fellow Titans but inside he wants nothing more than to have their social life.
Not only is Damian making an effort to gain friends, but also a significant effort to solidify a “best” friend. Super Sons chronicles the adventures of Robin and Superboy, Jon Kent. Their rivalry is blossoming into a beautiful friendship. The series exposes his innocence in the most intimate ways. His approach to Jon is like that of a young girl teasing her crush that she secretly admires.
The two boys are learning what it is to be a true hero, and how to live up to their fathers’ names. They also embark on superhero adventures that we regular folk used to pretend we were on. Damian and Jon’s development together has been heartwarming and entertaining. Hopefully the goodwill and appeal of Jon Kent can translate into Damian haters finally opening their hearts to him.
All these titles are making significant progress in developing Damian as a character. Surrounding him with characters away from his father that he strides to impress. Placing him in scenarios that expose the child underneath that cold exterior. These series’ have all delivered a story that readers can relate to in some way. Humanizing the character in a new way, without compromising his already established attributes.
It may still be too early to tell, but DC Rebirth may be what wins over the skeptics. Damian Wayne may never be the “best” Robin (Tim Drake), or most popular (Dick Grayson), but he might be forging his way into the top three.
How do you feel about Damian? If you’ve read these comics, do you think he’s been more digestible? Is DC Rebirth a step in the right direction for Damian haters? Which of these books do you enjoy the most? Let us know in the comments below!