SPOILER ALERT: If you have not read BATMAN, INCORPORATED #8 and do not wish to know what happens, stop reading this post now (MAJOR spoilers ahead!)
From the creative team of writer Grant Morrison and artist Chris Burnham, BATMAN, INCORPORATED #8 serves as the pinnacle of everything Morrison has been planning since the launch of this series – and the conclusion of Damian’s story.
Earlier this week, Morrison shared an essay reflecting on the seven years he has spent writing the Dark Knight. Within that essay, he discussed the overarching theme of his entire Batman opus: “This master theme of damaged and ruined families was nowhere more in evidence than in the creation of Damian, the first ‘Son of Batman’ to be acknowledged in the canon. In many ways this has been Damian’s story as much as it has been the story of Bruce Wayne and it’s a story that had its end planned a long time ago - for what son could ever hope to replace a father like Batman, who never dies?”
In “The Boy Wonder Returns,” Damian Wayne re-enters the battle against the terrorist organization known as Leviathan. Formed by Talia al Ghul (a.k.a. Damian’s mother) Leviathan seeks to create a “ring of terror,” ensnaring hundreds of innocent children and turning them into killers along with an army of the working class. Together, they have shared targets: Batman and his army of allies who strive to use the power of Batman Inc. on a global scale.
In the events of the war between Leviathan and Batman, Inc., Talia has decided to place a half a billion dollar bounty on her son’s head in order to gain the attention of his father, Batman. With his son’s safety in mind, Batman decides to sideline Damian and confine him to the Batcave. But that doesn’t stop the Boy Wonder!
After a distress call from Red Robin reveals that Talia has occupied Wayne Tower and has Batman as her prisoner, Damian defies his father – with the help of Alfred – and suits up as Robin once more.
When he arrives at the tower, the agents of Leviathan, both young and old, attack. Just when the agents release fire upon Damian, Nightwing busts through the window to save his former partner.
Together, they share a touching moment reflecting upon their partnership as Batman and Robin before hopping back into battle, reunited once more as partners in the fight against crime. They fight side by side like never before but are interrupted by Damian’s rival: The Heretic!
But The Heretic isn’t only Damian’s rival. He’s also a genetic copy of him! Birthed from the carcass of a whale, this young clone was forced to grow at an accelerated rate so his mother could mold him to her desires. He represents everything that Damian will never be, now that he has made the choice to follow his father’s path as a crime fighter.
Robin and The Heretic begin a bloody battle as Damian tries to plead with his mother to end the war. Damian is no match for the hulking mass that is his brother, but he passionately fights in order to save his father and Gotham City from the grasp of Leviathan.
Meanwhile, Batman frees himself from an underwater safe crafted by Talia to prove herself as his archenemy. She challenges him to choose between his city and his son, for one must die for the other to survive. But and as he escapes, Batman believes he can save both.
Yet Batman is too late. The Heretic has fatally stabbed Damian. Another Robin has died in Batman’s never-ending fight against crime. Batman arrives helpless to the scene of the unspeakable terror that has occurred. All he can do is hold his son in his arms, one last time.
How will the death of another Robin – and more importantly of his son – impact Batman in the future? Has Talia finally won? Place your bets in the comments section below.
And don’t forget to pick up your copy of BATMAN, INCORPORATED #8, in stores now.