I knew I was coming up on Grant Morrison’s renowned Batman run. I know nothing about his storylines, or where he plans on taking the character, so I began this comic with excitement, wondering where Morrison’s mind would take our dark knight.
From the first issue, this series is unequivocally a Morrison comic. We open with a team-up by Batman and Man-Bat, as the pair unite to try to bring down an army of man-bat ninjas (how was this never a thing before now?) that someone has created. Batman takes on a number of them within a charity art gallery, where the works on the walls are all based on the comics style and in the most subtly obvious, self-referential way play into the scene at hand.
It isn’t until a bit later in the trade that the story really picks up steam though. We learn that Talia has been behind this army of man-bat ninjas (I just love typing that phrase, so I’m going to use it as much as possible). What’s even more surprising though, is the revelation that Talia has a young son, who is also Batman’s own.
Hearkening back to the story in Batman: Son of the Demon, it is revealed that Batman and Talia’s child survived, and that Talia in fact raised young Damien within the League of Assassins. With Batman tied up, Talia informs him of his son’s existence, and then disappears, claiming that Batman must care for the boy now.
Surprisingly, the comic doesn’t dwell on whether or not Damien is really Bruce’s child. There is a very brief conversation noting that they’re not sure if Talia is telling the truth, but the story quickly moves past that and focuses on more pressing concerns. A part of me likes that; Grant Morrison doesn’t pander to his readership, forcing us through a long and drawn-out melodrama of “Is Damien really Batman’s son???”. Of course he is; we’re allowed to skip all of the unnecessary drivel and get right to the story.
Batman brings Damien to the Bat-cave, but he’s far from impressed. He’s a bratty, obnoxious little squirt who also happens to be a tremendously skilled fighter. He incapacitates (and nearly kills) Tim, before donning a Robin costume and showing up to fight alongside dear ole’ dad.
Damien verges on deranged, and it takes Batman getting really angry and yelling at Damien for him to finally respect his father. Unfortuntately, just as Damien’s loyalty seems to be conflicted, in an epic showdown on a boat, Talia sets off a bomb, seemingly killing both herself and Damien.
…Yeah, okay. I didn’t believe this for one second, and it felt a little contrived, at least by Morrison’s standards. We learn a few issues later that Damien and his mother actually survived, so clearly we haven’t seen the last of them. Their story is just beginning, as I’m sure Damien and Batman’s is as well.
Morrison’s comics tend to be a little hazy in the beginning. While I know he knows exactly where they’re going, we’re left a bit in the dark while we read issue after issue, until his vision finally becomes clear. I’m hopeful that like his other stories, his Batman run will be just as brilliant, but I have no idea how it will affect Batman’s story or what sort of radical changes could come about as a result. It’s already a pretty huge revelation that Batman has a son, but I’m sure Morrison has so much more in mind for these characters. I’m anxious to continue reading his run, and look forward to seeing what sort of bizarrely magnificent stories he comes up with for Batman. I have no doubt in my mind that they’ll be unique.