Batman in The New DCU is a column series that focuses on what we are learning about Batman's new history and continuity since Flashpoint. The second week of the second month of the New DCU brings us Batman and Robin #2 and a minor appearance in Batwoman #2.
SPOILER WARNING: This article assumes the reader has full knowledge of all mainstream superhero titles published by DC Comics since Flashpoint.
As promised by Peter Tomasi in an interview, Batman and Robin #2 brings us some details on Damian Wayne's origins as the current Robin, after focusing on Bruce Wayne's origin last month. There are no surprises, really. Talia is still Damian's mother, through a tryst with Bruce Wayne at some point in the past. I would have liked a count in years, but alas such was not given. Bruce does seem to regret this encounter now, though. Also, the way he tells the story, there seems little reason to think this was anything more than one night. After all, how long did Bruce let his heart overrule his head? Of course, any reader of "Son of the Demon" can see that the relationship between Bruce and Talia al Ghul was rather lengthy, even involving a marriage that is not mentioned here. All we see in the vague summary of Damian's origin is an encounter between Bruce and Talia, Damian spending his infancy in a glass ball of science, and Damian's "obscene indoctrination of his early years." The glass ball of science seems to imply the recent retcon that Damian was artificially aged, but no one who HASN'T heard of "Son of the Demon" need infer anything more than Bruce had a sexual encounter a decade ago (or so) and now has a boy by it. There's no Batman costume visible in the one panel of the love scene, so there's nothing to say whether the encounter occurred before or after Bruce started being Batman. It's left vague enough that the educated reader can infer the stories he knows are still in place, but also nothing is inserted to confuse the new reader. Props to Tomasi on that.
Batman and Damian have a tense relationship, to put it mildly. Damian has been trained to kill from his earliest years. This breeds a certain disdain for life. In Damian's eyes, Batman needs a something other than a few decades of greater age to earn his respect. Damian could snuff out those years (or at least attempt to do so) with but a moment's decision. His experience with Dick Grayson eventually brought him to a place of respect for Dick as Batman, but when it comes to Bruce, Damian is back to square one. And Bruce is going to have to earn every begrudged step into Damian's trust. And Bruce may not be the most skilled at being the father that Damian needs. But hopefully, Alfred is right, and their mutual need for one another will work to mutual betterment.
Despite Damian's learning restraint in the field, he still has a great inner drive for violence that Bruce is allowing him to exorcise through the repeated demolition of Batman's training facilities. Damian also rather callously kills a bat in this issue. Boy's got issues, in case no one knew.
Every boy with issues needs a dog. And it looks like Bruce is picking up a Great Dane to be the third Bat-Hound in the character's publication history. Will he be named Ace like his predecessors? Will Damian snap his neck and throw him into the depths of the Batcave? Only time will tell.
We're distracted from the pretty dog by Bruce's encounter with a man named Morgan, who apparently is the NoBody that we've seen killing people last issue and this. He and Bruce have a history that is known to the two of them but not to the reader. Morgan has issues with the way Bruce is doing what he's doing, mocking many of the classic and modern tropes of what we would consider standard Batman storytelling, such as the Batsignal, calling cards, and Batman Incorporated, though that last continues to go unnamed here. There is a reference to Ducard, possibly a mutual mentor in the shadows of Bruce's history? But Morgan makes his getaway before we get any more detail on what else might be involved here. But as I read the scene, I'm reminded of Batman Begins and Bruce's training with Ra's al Ghul. Could this be referencing something similar? The idea of Bruce traveling and training in Tibet and possibly other places has been a part of the mythology at least since Frank Miller's Batman: Year One, though I am pretty sure the addition of al Ghul as his trainer was new to that movie. Could these be vague references to a new look at that part of Bruce's pre-Batman history? We'll have to wait and find out as the series unfolds.
On a random note, we do get a name for the late great "Russian Batman" who was killed by NoBody last month — Ravil. Rest in pieces, Ravil; we hardly knew thee (or rather "rest in solution form," having been dipped into an evil-looking vat last issue).
Batwoman #2 finally at long last gives us a named reference to Batman Incorporated and describes it as "a worldwide organization of Batmen." Last issue ended with Batman's line to Batwoman: "I have a proposition for you." And turns out, that proposition was to join Batman Incorporated. I'm kinda confused, though, about what that would mean for Batwoman if she joined. If the organization is to be worldwide, would she need to relocate? That may have been explained in the Batman Incorporated issues pre-Flashpoint, but I will play my "Fresh Reader Card" and await further information as it's given in future issues.
In any case, Batwoman has not yet decided to join. We see Batman and her having a conversation on a rooftop (standard meeting place for superheroes), and he tells her that the offer is not open-ended. So will we or will we not see Batwoman join Batman Incorporated? Only time will tell.
Batman makes a somewhat blithe comment as he says goodbye to Batwoman. Cautioning her against getting Plebe (he calls her "Flamebird") involved in something dangerous, he adds that "murdered sidekicks tend to come back from the dead, as super-villains." This is a reference to the "death" of Jason Todd back in the late 1980s. And even though Jason has come back, I still think this can be seen as one of Batman's greatest failures (if not THE greatest) of his career. I'll be curious to see what is said about this event and its repercussions in the Red Hood and the Outlaws title, assuming that those characters' backgrounds and origins are explored.
Next week: Batman #2: Trust Fall; and Batman: Odyssey Vol. 2 #1
Next month: Batman and Robin #3: Knight Moves!
Posted by Jon Wilson