Let’s get this straight before discussing the awfulness that is Batman Incorporated #8, I’m about as far as you can get from a Grant Morrison fan. The comic writer certainly has his devoted followers, but although I think he can sometimes create something worthwhile completely outside of DC continuity (All-Star Superman), most of the time I’m sick to death of his overly-complex (and at times nearly incomprehensible) stories which force well-established characters into roles that don’t fit them in order to create a “definitive” version of the characters purely to serve the man’s massive ego.
Back in 2006 Grant Morrison introduced the character of Damian Wayne, the offspring of Batman and Talia al Ghul. Rather than use existing Batman stories which laid the groundwork for the character’s existence (and he couldn’t even be bothered to read until his version had been published), Morrison made up his own convoluted tale involving genetic manipulations and clones. And so Damian, the genetic (but not quite biological) offspring of the Dark Knight and the daughter of one of his greatest enemies was born.
Introduced as a brutal 10 year-old raised by the League of Assassins, the spoiled little-shit was actually less likable than Jason Todd. Morrison’s tale also forever changed the role of the conflicted Talia into a far less interesting batshit crazy woman who could never quite decide whether she wanted Damian to live or die (which continues to play out to this day). Originally Morrison planed to kill Damian fairly quickly, but the character caught on, became the new Robin, began to mature and grow, and, as they say, the rest is history.
The launch of the New 52 rebooted Damian back to his default setting forcing a painful year-and-a-half long journey to return Batman’s son to some semblance of where he was before the reboot. And then… this happens.
Killed off by his clone “brother” at then end of another incomprehensible story arc involving Talia’s big plan to… what exactly? Piss off Batman by attacking Wayne Enterprises for no discernible purpose other that provide for the public execution of her son (which she’s kind of sad about, but could have stopped at at any moment)? Good plan. And so, as Morrison has been jonesing to do for years, the latest Robin has been killed in a storyline so far removed from the rest of the Bat-titles it hasn’t even been referred to in months.
There’s much to dislike here, including the method of the 10 year-old being beaten and stabbed to death by the hands of his own clone. The choice also robs the New 52 of, by far, it’s most intriguing young character. It also halts the burgeoning relationships Damian had begun with the various other Robins, and even his sister from another Earth, all of which now have nowhere to go.
Like most of Morrison’s work there are moments where he shines (by letting existing storylines breathe before doing whatever the hell he wants). The lone example of this is Nightwing and Damian’s final moments together reminiscing about how great a team they were when Dick wore the cowl (something I’m not even sure is canon in the New 52 as Batman R.I.P. and Bruce Wayne’s death never actually happened).
There’s much speculation about who will fill the shoes the shoes of Robin whether it be Tim Drake, Helena, or even Stephanie Brown (who has yet to appear in the new DCU). Whatever the case, Damian’s death wasn’t necessary to accomplish the goal of replacing him as Robin, nor does his death serve any long term purpose in terms of Batman stories going forward (once DC moves past the obligatory couple months of characters grieving his death). This is a mistake and, as many of Morrison’s stories are, a badly written one. Pass.