Damian: Son of Batman #1 by Andy Kubert (Comics Review)

Over the years, Batman has had several sidekicks, three of them being Robins, and a Batgirl. At least, that’s what I knew until I began reading the New 52 branded comics. And suddenly, as I started to read more comics and read the wiki-lore, I understood that Batman even had a son, and that there have been two more Batgirls and even a Robin in the far future when Bruce is all old and retired. The one thing that really stuck out at me was that Batman had a son, Damian, from Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter Talia.

Despite my interest in the character I didn’t really read any of the comics related to him, except for the first volume of Peter J. Tomasi’s Batman and Robin for the New 52, which I found to be mediocre at best. Damian just didn’t work for me as a character.

Earlier this year, Damian was killed off in the pages of Batman, Inc which was written by Grant Morrison, the man who had created the character several years ago. In the midst of all the hype surrounding the death, DC announced a 4-issue “what if?” mini-series that would bring the character back. I was mildly interested. After reading it, I’m just completely disappointed.

Note: This contains some spoilers about the issue.

Damian Son of Batman 01This was a really weird book. I recognize that this was meant as an Elseworlds tale, but if it does, then why the New 52 branding on it? Why not just remove that branding altogether? Because there’s no indication in this comic that it bears any resemblance to the current Gotham-centric/Bat-family titles in any way. At Batman’s funeral, we see a wheelchair-ridden Barbara Gordon, which makes no sense since in the New 52 she has healed from that injury and walks around as normal, and even resumed her Batgirl identity. Also, there are other figures drawn into the scene that could theoretically be Dick, Tim, and Jason along with Alfred of course, but there are no indications as to that. Where’s Gordon? Black Canary? Catwoman? Superman? All the heroes of the world who considered Batman a friend and ally?

This is only a part of the problems plaguing this issue. And its probably better if I start at the beginning, right?

In the opening pages, we have some of the most wooden and stilted dialogue that I’ve read from Andy Kubert, or in comics in general. It is overly formal and its as if Batman isn’t Bruce Wayne but some other person, because I’ve never seen him talk like this. Especially not when the person he is talking to is his son. In Tomasi’s comics, Damian at least refers to him as father. The way Kubert’s dialogue is written, its as if he is trying to show that their relationship is very cold and distant, which doesn’t make sense considering that they are working as a team and have been working as such for a number of years. This comic is clearly set a few years on from the current timeline, and I’d imagine that if they’ve been working together for, say 5 years now, then they’ve developed some familiarity with each other and their conversations won’t be so formal.

Then there’s the fact that the reaction of Talia and Ra’s al Ghul to Batman’s death is to give the reader two pages of exposition in which Damian’s birth is laid out as an unnecessary info-dump. And there’s no emotion at all in how Talia or Ra’s react. Batman is dead. Damian needs to be Batman. Done, conversation over. That’s how it is. Can we be a little realistic here please?

And who knew that the villains of Gotham, notorious criminals like Mr. Freeze and Killer Croc no less, have blogs where they boast that they killed Batman. That was where Kubert completely lost me. Especially given the really confusing way in those panels are drawn, as if Damian is reading a dossier on these criminals compiled by Batman but it also has direct first-hand information from the criminals. Weird. Confusing.

The list continues.

The art was also quite a bit weaker than I’d expected. I’m not really a fan of Kubert’s art (covers being a different ball game), and this comic didn’t give me any reason to stick around either. Kubert is the internal artist as well and in many of the panels he has really odd camera angles that accentuate character dimensions. There’s one in particular which, the way its drawn, appears as if Batman is a giant compared to Damian, giant as in 20-foot giant compared to someone of average height. These odd camera angles continue throughout the comic. The art lacks the kind of polish that I expect of it, and is generally quite weak. There’s often too much going on in a panel to really understand what’s happening, made worse when Kubert pulls the angles really back.

And the lettering, specifically Damian’s narration is the oddest element in the book. There are weird, inexplicable notations in each narration box that are meant as chronological reference points but I couldn’t make any sense of them. And the design of the boxouts was clunky too.

I kind of expected this comic to be a lot better, even though I’m not a fan of Kubert’s work, but I was still pretty disappointed with it. This is a 4-issue mini-series only, and generally I’d be all for finishing things up but I doubt I will.

Rating: 3/10

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Posted on November 5, 2013, in General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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