Monday, May 20, 2013

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Damian Wayne.

What can be said of this treacherous, bloodthirsty little monster? Probably the most accurate thing that can be said of Damian is that he’s the son of the Batman. Not Bruce Wayne, but Batman.

He embodies the most vicious, sadistic parts of Batman’s personality. And in a way, Damian is only kind of aspiring to what he thinks he should be. I mean, if Batman is his father and Talia al Ghul is his mother, given the League of Assassins' ideas about what Batman should be doing with his time, is it any wonder that Damian is kind of confused about what Batman stands for?

Totally remorseless and a prodigy in all of the ways that Batman is, Damian gives you a preview of what a Batman on the side of the Ra's al Ghul would be like. And it’s disturbing stuff to say the least.

Sooner or later, DC found it’s way around to casting Damian as the latest iteration of Robin. First, he tried to usurp the role from Tim Drake by killing Drake off (this didn’t make dad happy). Later however, Damian began to show a surprising loyalty to his father and his cause (which doesn’t make mom happy). After a while, Batman finally decides that he needed to train--and not isolate--his son, adopting him as his sidekick.

I have to say, I was skeptical about this move. But I really like what it turned up for the Dark Knight.

Watching Batman train Damian is like watching Batman coach and nurture himself. Damian doesn’t lack for combat prowess or for intellect; he lacks restraint and a strong moral compass. Damian’s just as likely to injure someone in his attempt to save someone else. In essence, he misses the underlying philosophy of the entire endeavor. That's the part that Batman has to speak to him about. Batman may skulk in the shadows of your worst nightmare, but in order to do good he has to stay connected to his humanity.

He hasn’t exactly always been great at this; if it wasn’t for Alfred, Dick Grayson and others, he might have slipped away into the Batman persona all together. What’s interesting about Batman taking responsibility to help Damian see this is that it’s essentially synonymous with Batman taking accountability for monitoring how he himself balances these things in his life. If anyone is going to be able to understand what Damian is going through it’s him, right?

As time proceeded, Damian has seemed less and less alien and foreign and more like his father (a very confused, angry version of his father, but his father). Batman choosing to really know Damian is like him really choosing to know himself. And maybe that sort of helps Damian know who his father really is instead of the propaganda fantasy the league has cooked up and fed him.

Recently, Damian met his end. In a nice twist, he dies heroically. He seems more his father’s son here than he ever was. This has left our title hero somewhat unbalanced. Lately, Batman seems to be looking into the possibility of resurrecting Damian. This would be pretty radical and creepy because it doesn’t seem like something Batman would normally tamper with and it sort of makes you think about the other side of Damian’s heritage. The Ra’s al Ghul constantly getting resurrected and such side.

If Damian DID come back, would he be the same? Would that little glimmer of hope that he could amount to something good still be there? Or would we be back to square one again? Interesting questions.


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