Say what you will about Damian Wayne; that he’s a brat, that he’s annoying, that he’s an easy outlet to show Bruce’s Daddy issues – whatever. After Morrison introduced the character in 2006, Damian faced a lot of scrutiny, regardless of all that the one thing haters couldn’t say about him was that he was boring. In his recently years in Batman continuity, Damian has grown into one of the most well-rounded characters in the Bat-family, getting plenty of moments to show his character’s growth.
From the get-go, Tomasi has had his work cut out for him in this series. After Morrison’s run that showed Damian’s dynamic with Dick Grayson under the cowl, Tomasi tackled the emotionally complex relationship of Damian being the Robin of not just Batman, but Bruce Wayne.
When it came to being Dick Grayson’s Robin, Dick saw Damian as partner and peer, which often lead to Damian disregarding his orders and going rouge. For Bruce, however, Damian’s seen as heavy liability not only because of his notorious reckless attitude, but because he’s his son.
The last three issues really set the stage for this fourth installment, showing the strenuous relationship between Bruce and Damian and how it reflected their partnership when hitting the streets of Gotham. Damian is beginning to see his father as not just one of mankind’s greatest heroes, Batman, but simply as Bruce Wayne. While we all don’t have fathers who dress up in capes and cowls to take down neighborhood baddies, everyone has experienced that moment when we see that our parents are fallible, human beings. On the flip-side, Bruce is struggling with the parental problem of hiding things from his son for his “own good”, while still maintaining their relationship as Batman and Robin.
In this latest issue, the arc reaches its crescendo, as Batman and Robin are trapped, beaten and tied-up by Morgan and forced to listen to his screwed views on how justice should be carried out in Gotham. Morgan’s views are radical, claiming that killing Gotham’s villains is the only way to truly clean up the city and that Damian was born kill his victims, not curb his particular talents.
The scene ends with an explosive confrontation, which Gleason illustrates through beautiful splash pages. The fluidity between the climax of Morgan’s scene eases gracefully into the emotional moments that wrap up the issue.
In the final pages, Tomasi shows us the direction he’s taking the series, and unlike past Bat books that mostly focused on Damian’s character growth, we see that Bruce has his own learning curve ahead of him. Gleason’s art and Tomasi’s writing coveys just far away the Father-Son duo are from being anywhere near okay.
The issue perfectly captures just how lost Damian feels, how blind-sighted Bruce is as a parent, how insightful Alfred is on the relationship, and how Morgan uses it all against Gotham’s greatest hero. Tomasi and Gleason’s work on this issue is one of the most hard-hitting, emotive stories in super hero comics to date. Their efforts combined make this series one of the most under-appreciated comics you should be reading.