Friday, 1 March 2013

On One Single Panel In Batman Incorporated #8


Goodness knows, anything goes, and here's something of the proof of that. For hardly anyone who's reviewed the killing of Damian Wayne in Batman Incorporated #8 has even bothered to mention the poor dead boy's age. With that being so, it's hardly surprising that I've only come across Martin Gray - here - arguing that the sight of "a tiny child brutalised and skewered while pleading for his life" is in itself an upsetting one. Instead, The Boy Wonder Returns has been mostly characterised in terms of its fannish entertainment value, with reviewers typically, if not exclusively, acclaiming it as 'insanely' good fun mixed with a "classic" and "tragic" climax. The panel-to-panel progression of the murder from set-up to stab-through has been chin-stroked over and, mostly, cheered, with the details of its inter-textuality dissected in detail. Similarly, the death's been discussed in the context of Grant Morrison's long-game as a writer of Batman, and evaluated in terms of its success in delivering the apparently requisite blood'n'guts which last week's conclusion of Death Of The Family opted out of. Anything but the fact of Damian's age and the details of his passing have tended to clog up the column inches.


Even the few who've expressed disappointment haven't, as far as I can see, thought to mention the fact that this is a 10 year old child who's being presented suffering in such an unnecessarily harrowing way. Indeed, there's even been complaints, and on some of the blogosphere's biggest sites too, that  the killing itself isn't "quite gruesome" or "iconic" enough. One reviewer even took the time to bemoan the fact that Chris Burnham's artwork had obscured the exact detail of the physical trauma causing Damian's end with some judicious shadow. From that less satisfied end of the peanut gallery, unflattering comparisons have also been made with the sight of Jason Todd being beaten to death with a metal bar by the Joker, and the piercing through of Elektra of Bullseye, as if the meaning of such a death lay in the degree to which it raised the bar where body-horror is concerned. Yes, it seems that there's a canon of thrillingly brutal super-person deaths, and a series of generally agreed criteria which governs where a new killing can be ranked within it.

Yet what do we see, and what should we see, when faced with the scene of Damian's murder. His body run through by a colossal blade and then raised high into the air by the same? The whited-out eyeholes of his cowl framed to express horror, his child's hands grasping at the same sword which has done for him? His utter helplessness, the gruesome and unimaginably painful experience of being so definitively impaled? A boy, perhaps, and his death?
    
 

Of course, if the 10-year old Robin is to die, then it's best that we care about it. But quite why the audience is assumed to need such a scene to make it care is a mystery. How desensitised, how lacking in empathy, would the reader need to be before the very fact of Damian's death failed to move them? After all, this isn't a panel which increases our understanding of Damian's heroism, or indeed any aspect of his character. It doesn't tell us of anything that we haven't already been told, and it fails to achieve a single thing that a shot with a touch more restraint and respect still might. All this does is shock us, or at least attempt to. It exists not for the sake of plot, but to thrill us with its sense of transgression. Yet with no little irony, it doesn't seem to have been perceived as transgressive at all. It relies on the audience wanting to experience not just the tale of a child's murder, but the details of his horrible, miserable, painful, lonely end. The pleasure offered here is that of staring into the eye-pieces of a child superhero as he's brutally murdered, and nothing else.

Anything goes, of course. Indeed, the so-called New 52 has sold comic after comic with a purposefully prurient scene of superheroes being stabbed through with one lethal object after another. Yet that convention too appears not to have been considered relevant by those whose reviews I've read.

Why does this scene exist? It exists to make entertainment out of a boy's last, baleful moments. Beyond that, it has no purpose at all. If an objection to that needs to be spelled out, then all of this is less a matter of anything goes, and more a case of pretty much everything having already gone.


 With my grateful thanks to Martin Gray for the scans of this issue, since I read it first  on Comixology and then couldn't find a hard copy anywhere. Thank you Martin Gray!!!

To those who've written reviews which have raised these issues, and regardless of whether you reached a similar set of conclusions to mine or not, my apologies. I read almost a quarter-century of reviews before writing this. I'm truly sorry that I missed yours. 

And, yes, I know, it's only comics, it's only fun, that there's nothing wrong with body-horror for its own sake, that Damian will probably be back via Lazarus Pit or body transfer or clone shenanigans, and so on and on. But, you know, it's a %£!$ kid who's been run through while pleading for his life, and so I guess I'm out of step on this one. Let the cries of "Wertham!" arise from anyone who can bothered ...
    

56 comments:

  1. Spot on, Colin. I found it vile when Jason was brutalised and blown up and now here we go again. A more original, less visually awful way to remove Damian while giving Batman a big ol' dollop of guilt would have been to simply have Damian suffer a breakdown as the reality of his life, his situation hits him. Not a Joker or Scarecrow chemical thing, but the likely outcome of a pre-teen raised by a callous mother and grandfather, assailed by monsters on a daily basis.

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    1. Hello Martin:- Your suggestion would actually have been devastating, and far far more terrible. If DC wants to play around with Wayne's responsibility as a Patriarch, then that's a far better way of doing it. Here, it all leads up to that last panel, that oh-so-typical heroic suffering which reduces Damian to a reason for Bruce to feel vengeful and guilty.

      Again.

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  2. It's disturbing to think that the medium that produced this scene is the one that has brought me the most entertainment and pleasure. It's a shame that a lot of people don't recognize how sick this panel really is. Not gory enough? Seriously?

    I remember people being up in arms when Jason Todd was killed and readers (many presumably under 18) had voted to kill him. I wonder if there will be any real-world outcry over Damian's death without the 800 number.

    - Mike Loughlin

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    1. Hello Mike:- It's also a shame that it's occurred in a run which has had a great deal that's splendid about it. I've had my problems with aspects of BI, but it's been a great book for all of that. I wrote about #1 as being very proficient but somewhat heartless, and of #3 as seeming to me to have both qualities.

      But, yes, this is a dodgy panel, and I can't say I'm a fan of the whole death-scene from beginning to end. But I thought I'd focus on one aspect of it rather than scattering my shot. And this is a dodgy, ill-judged panel. I have no interest in returning to a sanitised comics past, as any sideways glance at the issues I've favourably reviewed on this blog, at Q or at Sequart will prove. But the case isn't between Wertham and license, straight-jackets and absolute freedom. It's about good judgement, and though I suspect that most would disagree - and more power to them - I think this has been a mistake.

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  3. Obviously, the story doesn't end there, so I'd be unwilling to condemn the point of Damian's death as you do in your answer to Martin, because it's neither here nor there.

    The point of your essay isn't whether it the plot point is worthy, unoriginal, depressing or exciting. The point is the use of a gory death shot in the case of a child character, somewhat in context of the New52's liberal use of such death/wound shots. Is it appropriate? What is its function in the narrative?

    Now, like you, I'd prefer violence and sexuality be suggested rather than shown point blank. I prefer subtlety to obviousness, as it makes me more of a participant in the story. However, there is something to be said about obviousness disarming an image. Had Robin been killed off-panel, say with a nasty sound effect while we look at ambiguous shadows, reaction shots or some relevant metaphor, our imagination might have made it even more awful and violent. Does showing it, with shadow and relative bloodlessness, take the sting out of it. Somehow make it more cartoony and less violent? And is that an effect worthy of such a scene?

    In other words - and again, I'm not interested in discussing the plot point itself, we'll take for granted that Robin dies in the story no matter how it's told - would we rather be made participants in an off-panel death, or desensitized by the violence by looking at it straight on? Which makes us worse people?

    That said, the point of the panel may not be the death at all, but the kill. Damian is here killed by an adult clone of himself, whose silent reaction may turn out to be a turning point for that character (time will tell). This is a story that has echoes in psychoanalysis, surely, but have the creators weighed the importance of their metaphor with the inappropriateness of the character's gory death badly? Because Damian is 1) a fictional character and 2) in-world, a child assassin grown in a bottle, are we more allowed to accept a 10-year-old's gruesome death?

    Personally, I was neither shocked nor titillated by the image. Damian is a character I put on the same level as Batman, Nightwing, and so on. His death saddened me because it had emotional impact and because I liked the character. Within the story, things were coming to a head, and the death didn't feel gratuitous. So I admit my reading, like that of many others, didn't liner on the appropriateness of that single panel (I was more dismayed, frankly, by the preceding panels where the Boy Wonder is riddled with bullets), but I think you're right to question its use.

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    1. Hello Siskoid:- I didn't say anything about the point of the issue at all in my reply to Martin! Hands in the air, smile at my accuser, I didn't :)I deliberately described what the progression of events in that issue was. I never mentioned what comes about in the next issue, though I did point out in the afterword that I could see a whole range of options by which this issue could be a great big set-up. By which I meant, there's no one fixed path for this tale.

      But, bless you for saying so, the post itself didn't stray anywhere near such issues. Indeed, I did purposefully keep the focus of it as tight as my weary old head could manage. I had notes for a comparison with Kid Loki and Hit Girl, and on and one, but in the end, it struck me taking a single shot was the best option.

      I won't insult you, as a very welcome visitor and friend of the blog, by directly countering your points when I've already had my say in the piece itself. Obviously, my stance is that the death scene was both (1) unethical and (2) unnecessary. But as always, I'm keenly aware that neither point is one which carries any trace of objectivity with it. I believe both points fiercely, but I can't say that that is ever enough to close an argument.

      As such, I can't refute your absolutely enticing points about "the kill" or the way in which we relate to fictional characters in the DCU. (The latter point is, of course, one which can't be refuted because its 100% correct!) I'm certainly very pleased to have these counter-points here on the blog, and written in a way that's clear and friendly. As you'll know, once I've framed my own argument, I've no interest in bulldozing through an agreement. As if such was ever possible! My only response would be to say that there are other ways to create the effect which you mention, and they might well have managed to transmit the sense you suggest. Yet this option didn't, or at least it didn't for me. At best, it's an ambiguous matter. And I admire Morrison and Burnham too much to believe that their artistry couldn't have achieved more with less.

      I will certainly agree with you about the preceding panels too. As I've said above, I've learned that arguments which range too widely tend to diffuse their own effect. But I did mean, and obviously didn't succeed I fear, to raise the whole issue of whether 10 year boys should be used in such a way, test-tube super-lads or not. And my feeling is, no, they shouldn't be unless there's a degree of smarts and restraint which I fear I can't recognise here.

      ".. but I think you're right to question its use."

      Thank you for saying that, and for your - as always - thoughtful response.

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    2. I was directly reacting to "that oh-so-typical heroic suffering which reduces Damian to a reason for Bruce to feel vengeful and guilty" which seems to attribute intent on a plot level, but my comment was more as preface to what I wanted to address. And yet, I too strayed (in "the kill") into that territory, lending potential intent to the scene before the actual comics come out (or don't).

      You'll note that I asked a lot of questions, but didn't give a lot of answers. I'm not at all in disagreement with your point (and really, isn't the skewered hero meme a terrible, terrible cliché, to the point of being a tasteless gag by now?), which is in a sense related to juvenile pornography. I don't think Brits and Canadians are at all as puritanical as Americans (just look at our television programs), but it's become a truism that ratings boards in the U.S. are far more lenient on violence than they are on sex. And while child pornography would be totally unacceptable in ANY form, it seems the violent murder of a child, just as lurid, is perfectly acceptable to the publisher (and yes, the fact that the creators are Brits is a factor that confuses the issue).

      But as a society, we have to ask why this panel or sequence of panels is acceptable to publisher and reader alike. If it isn't, what can be done about it? Art reflects the reader back at him/her. Examining our reactions to the above panel will reveal something about ourselves, whether light or dark.

      But I'm with Sally (below). I would much prefer comics to be fun, or as you call it "Pop".

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    3. Hello Siskoid:- It's so difficult to fix the meaning of a conversation in comment boxes, isn't it? I'm partly resigned to it, and partly seized with dread as to what I might seem to be arguing whenever I write a reply :)

      It's certainly true that the skewered-hero convention is so over-used that it's become a joke, and yet I didn't read anyone who's mentioned it! No doubt I just missed reading tens of blogs who did, and yet surely that's relevant? Or rather, absolutely key? If the ethics and effectiveness of this one panel are up for debate, then the use of that cliche surely is too. Yes, the creators of this issue have purposefully woven a host of super-book death/suffering cliches into the conclusion of the tale, from Frank Miller-esque ninja-arrows-sticking-out-of-the-body to the Bane-breaks-Batman panel and onwards to the superhero-cradling-dead-comrade closer. Yet for all that's carefully done, I'm lost as to what it means. Morrison seems to love at times throwing up a host of references and letting others put them into context. That's one form of storytelling, and very popular with bloggers it is too. But I think the actual story can suffer, and it certainly does here. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the next issue is anything but what we expect from this sequence of images, with Damian either surviving or Batman pushing aside frontier justice. But even then, this issue works in its own terms as well as setting up the next, and in its own terms, its a Nu52 cliche.

      And yes, I'm really disturbed by the use of children in this situation. Separate the sidekick from its original context and things become complex, contradicted and potentially unpleasant. The trope can be made to work, of course; in fact, Damian often defied the odds to do just that in GM's tales. But it's a tough convention to play with, and when it plays like this, it's an ugly business.

      Now of course we might find Damian survived, but that won't change how this image works in this particular context.

      It would be good to see a wider discussion of such things which didn't flare up occasionally. But doing so runs the risk of either being ignored or serving as a lightning rod for other's ill-feeling. I can think of a host of ways in which the above could be misrepresented, or simply taken for what it is and shot down. If such issues aren't often discussed - and that includes social issues in general - then it can be hard to want to do so.

      Luckily, I have so little reach that it doesn't matter what I say! Bless those with more influence who do engage with these social influences and keep the debate turning, regardless of the inevitable consequences.

      And can I add a third vote for more "Pop"? Yes, pl-ease!



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    4. And one more vote for 'pop' from me - but I do think there was a pop panel in the issue ...

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    5. Hello Martin:- Heh :) Yep, you sent it on to me, which sent me back to my Comixcology account to read it in context again. Page 13, panel 3. Splendid!

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    6. The question of why no one is really talking about this in connection with the issue is a separate matter which I think can be explained by using your own post as an example.

      In your own words, you tried to avoid throwing too many elements into the mix so that your message wouldn't be diluted or lost, and a fine job you did of it too. Now consider the comic and how it used the OPPOSITE strategy as relates to this panel. The big news is Robin's death, and secondary news pieces would be his final moment with Nightwing, or the subverted parental metaphor, or indeed, how enjoyable the issue was as a whole (depending on taste). In other words, the panel and its ethics/worth was drowned in the reporting of those big banner elements. They "buried the lead", so to speak. Readers/bloggers/critics aren't seeing the trees from the forest, this detail has escaped them. For now.

      I'm pretty sure that a few weeks or months down the line, when someone next decries the ethical state of mainstream comic, Robin's death shot will be used to underscore the skewer cliché, and present it as an extreme based on the victim involved. These kinds of posts turn up every now and again, involving violence, sexism, creative bankruptcy, etc.

      I also think that many blogs didn't report on the issue to avoid posting spoilers. I know I didn't even consider it for just that reason, and so didn't read the book with a particularly critical eye. So just because no one's talking about it 2 days after it comes out doesn't mean no one noticed, were disturbed by its meaning, etc.

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    7. Hello Siskoid:- I certainly didn't think that nobody had noticed that scene, or that they hadn't thought to discuss it. My comments were deliberately aimed at those 25 or so reviews which I had read.

      Having said that, we are coming at the same situation from different directions, or something of different directions. Because the blogosphere does, as both our comments say, tend to focus on fannish things rather than fannish things AND social issues. And I say this as a bloke whose last post of any length before the MAC interview was a discussion of the Watchmen link present in the background of a single panel from an obscure, soon-cancelled 1989 comic!

      I don't think the issue is about individual reviewers at all. It's perfectly understandable that different reviewers will have different concerns. My point was that these reviews ALL ignored this issue, or did so with one exception. It's not an individual matter of blame, but a concern about the culture of the comics blogosphere itself. When the vast majority of reviews - and I mean "vast" - don't comment on such a scene, then I think it's worrying and worthy of comment. No individual review is to blame, but the mass of them behaving in such a way signs up something which concerns me.

      I think you're quite right to point out that there are a host of reasons why folks would think of other things. But that IS the problem, I'd suggest. It may be understandable, but it is a serious problem. Much of the industry will only change when it becomes a problem for it to continue to peddle material which is ill-judged. At the moment, the Big 2 can get away with practically anything because the fan-base as a whole largely doesn't seem to care. The relative absence of debate on this issue is a symptom of that, or so it seems from the frozen East Of England on this Friday night.

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    8. The state of the industry is such that these publishers are printing gratuitous violence because it sells. They've created their own audience of course. I always found it disingenuous that DC would tout variety as an axis for their New52 while catering to the exact demographic of shock-violence lovers it always has, except even more so. And it's a strategy that has paid off for them in the short term.

      I find Marvel comics far less violent on the whole these days (which is surprising given how many anti-heroes they still cater to), and much more open to different tones (Hawkeye, Daredevil, FF, Kid Loki's books are good examples of fun, clever, charming comics).

      For a company whose heroes' morals used to be more absolute than Marvel's "flawed hero" paradigm, DC Comics as a company is sure having trouble getting its moral compass pointing in the right direction. And I mean that on all levels. Depiction of violence. Sexism, racism and homophobia in content AND editorial comments/hiring. Even the cynical spoiling of every notable plot point by their marketing arm creates unfair treatment of the clientele AND the creators.

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    9. Hello Siskoid:- I've enjoyed your posts on the topic of the Nu52 and the myths that the company has peddled about its content. And as you say, it's a strategy that's paid off in the short-term, although we can see that everything but the same franchises which were already selling well before the Nu52 are now suffering. The law of diminishing returns matched with poor storytelling has done for those books. Thankfully, there's Dial H, Batgirl and so on, but I do believe that DC has hurt itself badly in everything but the terms of quarterly returns.

      And I agree entirely with you about Marvel, many of whose books are splendid these days. I certainly think of any empty-headed body horror at Marvel these days. Young Avengers, FF, Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, Wolverine And The X-Men, Thor, Daredevil etc etc. Yep, you're quite right.

      Your final paragraph does, however, make for depressing reading because, again, I can't disagree with it. There are exceptions to the rule, as I know you'd argue too, and some books are harmless even if they're not very good.

      But what a mess DC is in. Everyone but DC itself seems to know that, and the hardcore of fans who regard the stabbing through of Damian as thrilling rather than, as yet, disturbing for the wrong reasons.

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  4. My only answer to this, is that perhaps people have become completely desensitized to the brutality and violence that are routinely presented in all forms of media, but especially it seems lately, in comic books.

    I love my comic books. A swift kick to the head can make me cheer. Seeing Hal Jordan get hit in the head..again...also pleases me for some weird reason. But the ever escalating need to portray blood and guts and impalings, decapitations and the ever popular arm-cutting-off stuff is getting a little gratuitous.

    I just had a discussion about the impact that Alex being stuffed into that infamous refridgerator in Green Lantern by Major Force, in order to make Kyle Rayner sad. Kyle's reaction at the gruesome discovery is spot-on.

    However...all that was shown, was the fridge door, partly open, and a mere glimpse of her foot. That's it. Any disgusting stuff was up to the reader's own filthy imagination. And to my mind, that is always much more horrific than anything an artist can portray.

    I rather liked Damian, after completely loathing him at first. But yes, he's a child. An extremely annoying and gifted child...but a little kid. Who has been killed by his own clone, set against him by his own mother. The Ghul's are FUN people!

    That's three Robins down now, and they were all young. Not to mention Lian getting squished, Phantom Lady being impaled by a sword, Aquaman getting his hand cut off on a regular basis, and on and on. And on.

    I would much rather read something fun for a change.

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    1. Hello Sally:- It is a question of how desensitised we've all become. I'm certainly fascinated by how little the critics of the blogosphere discuss this kind of issue, and I include myself in that group. When the case is as extreme and seemingly obvious as this, I'd just expect to see a greater degree of discussion. Not because the results of that debate would result in anyone agreeing with me, or that they should, but simply because it has to be a live issue.

      As you'll know, having been a valued visitor to the blog before, I like a great deal of material that's explicit and often gory. I think, for example, that Al Ewing's Jennifer Blood is one of the best books out there, and that can hardly be seen as book marked by a puritan approach to the gruesome. But the violence is always well-judged and incorporated into ethical and narrative aspects which ensures that it means something. And I don't think that's true here. I've already received two missives which have declared that I want censorship, that I don't want any kind of adult material, and so on, and all I can say is that simply isn't my position. Yet arguments do seem to break down into either/or, and here its easy to see a call for smarts and restraint to the same as reactionary and censorious.

      I totally agree with that restraint can often produce the most disturbing results. It isn't always the most appropriate response, of course, and sometimes the out-there and questionable can be valuable as spectacle as well as valuable for how it pushes back boundaries. Neither positive can be associate with Damian's skewering. It's over-familiar in the context of the New 52 and it furthers the narrative not a jot.

      I too would enjoy reading more super-books which express the up as well as the downside of life. In such a context, death might have some meaning, rather than simply being this week's attempt to interest both the press and the fannish tendency.

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  5. Nu 52 killed the 60's retro spirit of Grayson/Damian Bats/Robin which was so glorious & promising so on some level this death is a response to all of that. The grimness wins and we all lose.

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    1. Hello solo500:- I fear you're absolutely right, which makes me wonder whether Morrison didn't mean this aspect of Damian's death as a comment on Nu52 and its adoration of strangely bloodless, bloke-thrilling body-horror. If he did, all power to his elbow, but in the context of the Nu52, and in the way it was done, it just came across as more of the same. The Nu52 is so extreme and guileless a model that's it's almost impossible to satirise, or even comment upon.

      And I do struggle to believe that a man as exceptionally smart and able as GM couldn't see that what he was producing didn't have those connections with the Nu52.

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  6. I find that panel sufficiently awful as a reader that I am not sure that it is pointless, though the context of reader response and expectation that it exists in certain adds layers of meaning to it.

    I think your description of those whited-out eyeholes of his cowl and his child's hands grasping the blade is exactly the point, as was his increasingly desperate pleas to his mother to call off her monster - which is to say, to me the point is: A ten-year old does not belong there and should not being doing what he is doing. . . Taken as the awful thing that it should be, the death of a 10 year old, who to that point however jaded was involved in what seemed like some kind of game should be. . . DOES indict the superhero genre.

    Unfortunately, the reality of the superhero genre as it exists now means that point will be lost. . .

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    1. Hello Osvaldo:- If the whole scene was a comment on kid sidekicks, and it may well turn out to be so, then I'd suggest that it's both far too late, far too unsubtle, and poor done. Far too late as a point because the likes of Bratpack have long since taken on this convention. Far too unsubtle in that this scene does pretty much come out of the blue, with Damian having been used for years as a figure that the audience can cheer on. Having sold comics for months and months and months off of the back of Damian's appeal, it would be abit rich to now declare that it was all a ploy to reveal the Truth About Sidekicks. And poorly done, because the meaning of it is quite unclear even as the murder of Damian has been played out with such brutal precision.

      Is Morrison damning the superhero sub-genre, or at least a good part of it? Is he having a go at violence in the superhero book, or perhaps celebrating its virtues? Could he even be satirising the Nu52?

      Who knows? And that I fear, is the point. As you say, the way that the superhero book so often functions now will quite obliterate whatever is being given here, if any message at all is.

      Though I believe that super-children can be made to work in an ethical fashion - a tough job, but it could be done - it's not been done here in Batman Inc #8.

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  7. As someone raised by comics books who is thus utterly devoid of sensitivity and incapable of feeling shock (just as Wertham foretold!), I was entirely untroubled by the impaling of a ten-year-old boy.

    I will say, however, that I am somewhat nonplussed about the significance of all this. It is mildly interesting to note that he goes out with a blade through the chest -- a not infrequent affliction of his grandfather -- but surely there must be something more here. Morrison is one of the most aggressively subtextual writers in the business, after all.

    Yet within the text, only one other immediate connection presents itself: the use of orphaned child soldiers by Leviathan, who appear on the very first page. But this is a dangerous path of inquiry, don't you think? A man less jaded than I might ask: if Damian dies, how can we ever look at Batman as anything less than a monster? When he sends his own son to war, how is he any different from Talia? Like his secret identity and his refusal to kill, the more explicitly we ask these questions, the more likely we are to lose our suspension of disbelief -- and never get it back.

    In some ways, this appears to be a curious reflection of DEATH OF THE FAMILY: the artist sets the world on fire, and promises that nothing will ever be the same. And we see the fires rising, see the edges of the franchise crack and burn and fall away -- your Stephanie Browns and your Damians -- but at the end of the day, Batman only dusts the ash away and adds another memorial to the cave.

    Kid Loki was right.

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    1. Hello j:- Of course, there's a great many fine arguments for why the impaling of a 10 year old in comics shouldn't be a problem at all. And I'm not sure that I would ever want to be holding hands with that Wertham chap on anything much to do with comics. (I know you didn't say I had!)But having printed an interview with Max Allan Collins - which appeared on this blog just yesterday - which touched on Wertham and his ill-deeds, I did try to make sure that I didn't mention anything about the corrupting effect of such fare.

      I agree entirely that the meaning of the scene is strangely absent. And I'm not arguing that anything should be censored for its content. It's perfectly possible to present exactly the image that I discussed above, and far "worse", and have it serve an entirely valid purpose. The problem, as you say, is that this doesn't seem to. Perhaps it will in the greater scheme of things, but in context of this individual comic, it's a Nu52 stabbing through for the sheer Nu52ness of it.

      It might be that the whole business of Damian's arc has been a comment on how childhood is stolen and corrupted by uncaring adults and cruel, inappropriate roles. But if that's the intention, then Morrison's being a terrible hypocrite, because he's allowed Damian to operate as an audience-cheering 'hero' for years. That would be the height of hypocrisy, and so I'm going to discount that. But what can it mean beyond that?

      And in playing with these serious issues in the middle of a run which has never properly engaged with them, Morrison has - as you say - brought what's left of the business of superheroes with sidekicks tumbling down. Even if Damian isn't dead, the suffering he's undergone damns Wayne. The problem with the whole business of boy and girl super-people is that the very idea is absurd, as is of course quite obvious. As a metaphor, the sidekick can work to comment on a host of mostly inter-connected things, of course; adolescence, power relations, and so on. But have a sidekick end up murdered like this and the whole story shifts to being about neglect, and a kind of neglect which no amount of guilt and sacrifice on the part of the sinning, irresponsible adult who's responsible can ever wash away. As you say, who can handle watching Wayne as he runs through these poor children one by one?

      "but at the end of the day, Batman only dusts the ash away and adds another memorial to the cave."

      Beautifully put, as indeed your whole comment was. You shame me sir!! And I can only agree. I have no objection to any specific scenes. I don't have a list of what should and shouldn't be shown, and who'd care a whit if I did? But if these things are to be used, then it ought to be with intelligence and care that's designed to work in the form that the story's going to appear in. In this issue, we get what comes across as mindless prurience, which throws the reader out of the story while undercutting the property as a whole.

      It's all a bad show, I fear ....

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  8. Avengers Arena had a child have sex and then get exploded in issue one, Colin - Batman Inc isn't trying hard enough for my liking.

    etc

    I don't think this really registered with me as being as bad as it is because I've seen worse in comics this week - Red Robin's costume, for one - but mainly because by the time it gets to the kill, I'm a bit tired. I mean, DC have been promoting this child murder all week so I pick up the book looking for the money shot and expecting it on page one or something but it's all the way at the end.

    etc

    All joking aside, I don't even know why it didn't register that this was quite as horrible as you describe it. I'm still not sure. The instinct is to just dismiss it with "well, it's just DC doing what they do", but that's not a good reflection on me, either.
    Still, at least DC are getting people talking about their books. I imagine that's a great comfort.

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    1. Hello Brigonos:- I've not read an issue of Avengers Arena. Would you recommend it?

      And I suppose that Batman Inc might try harder. Those folks who wrote that Damian's death wasn't violent enough to be iconic should be able to come up with something more shocking than the scene which made me despair.

      And you're right that all the hucksterism wears away at the reader's ability to give a damn. All that noise leaves any kind of individual response feeling irrelevant, like trying to carry an quiet air before a cup final crowd howling Who Are Ya Who Are Ya?

      If I were DC Comics, I'd have the sense to know that if folks beyond the hardcore are talking about this, they're not likely to be saying good things.

      But then, DC doesn't seem very concerned with sense at the moment, with the exception of the usual crew of splendid craftfolks who've refused to get carried away with the Nu52 of it all.

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    2. Avengers Arena is a pretty terrible cash-in on the popularity of Hunger Games and Battle Royale. Either you recognize these kids and feel they don't deserve their fates, or you don't and you can't care for them. A very poor replacement for Avengers Academy. I would not recommend it, and I'm not sure Brigonos' comment was meant as an endorsement either.

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    3. Hello Siskoid:- I think you're right about Brigonos not meaning to endorse Avengers Arena. But sometimes a book that's not particularly, er, outstanding can be worth reading for its problems. Reading your comment, however, I think I'll invest my pennies elsewhere :)

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    4. In defence of Avengers Arena - and yes, I was being sarcastic and needed a reference point and Mettle's post-coital gore explosion* was recent and highish profile and thus fit the bill - they came out of the gate saying it was a round table discussion among editors that created the book, and that the spark was Mark Waid talking about Battle Royale and Hunger Games and saying "why not just do that?" after the room started getting frustrated that they couldn't get teen books to sell.
      Writer Dennis Hopeless has always been pretty upfront that he was the guy they hired to join their dots, though I agree that the promise of killing a minimum of one child in a variety of violent ways each issue is a vile one.

      But away from that, Hopeless does okay with it. Some of his characters are pretty interesting, but being as the whole point of introducing them is to kill them off, I'm unsure why readers are supposed to get invested.




      *If anyone reading this uses Post Coital Gore Explosion as the name of a Metal band does not give me credit for it, I will find and kill you.

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    5. Oh, and I agree there are many splendid talents at DC beavering away largely unappreciated - Simone, Nocenti, Jurgens, Marx... once the Nu52 dust settles, hopefully we can get back to discussing their works as something other than an aberration.

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    6. Hello Brigonos:- I have trademarked Post Coital Gore Explosion while you dribbled in your sleep, and my representatives will be in touch with yours with the terms for which you can buy back your own idea. We've also patented your DNA from a trace of the blood which you - Kiss-like - added to the ink used for the first printing of Babble. And that's REALLY gonna cost you.

      I fear I'm going to have to check out Avengers Arena. I find it hard to believe that anything Mark Waid has the slightest connection can be vile, and yet I do trust your opinion, so I have to check it out!

      But introducing characters to kill them off? I guess it could be done. Strikeforce: Morituri had some good stories within its covers. But on the whole ......

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    7. Pah! Good luck making those patents stick when my blood is 50 percent Guinness.

      I would definately say that Avengers Arena is worth checking out, but more because it's a real state-of-the-union title for Marvel as a creative entity because they admit as much in their first round of PR that it started off as a frustrated joke about how they just couldn't seem to make teen titles that sell worth a damn and a title that was being talked about for its own sake was now the best they could hope for - though Waid's name is notable for its absence from proceedings, as he hasn't been so much as name-checked in the title. I have a suspicion he just thought the book having an 11 year-old girl version of Deathlok was a bit silly.

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    8. Hello Brigonos:- Martin Gray of the splendid TooDangerousForAGirl blog has offered to send some Avengers Arena in my direction now that they've passed their use-by date when it comes to reviews. I'm very much looking forward to reading them.

      Is there really "an 11 year-old girl version of Deathlok"? It sounds TERRIBLE. Yet I seem to remember thinking that when I was first told about Kid Loki, and, how can I put it, I was REALLY wrong there.

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    9. I am a bit disappointed that I have somewhat derailed the comments, Colin - when I derail your comments section I usually like to do so by making the conversation about Star Trek. Erm... if anyone asks, just say I was banging on about The Savage Curtain or The Day of the Dove episodes of TOS, I mean they're pretty much the same premise as Avengers Arena and I have my reputation to think of.

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    10. Hello Brigonos:- I don't think of it as derailing. I consider it "re-contextualising". And a splendid recontextualist you are too.

      I have to say, I'm quite a fan of Star Trek. Dump all but 2 episodes of Voyager and most of Enterprise before the fourth series and I'm quite alot of a fan. Not a cosplay level fan, but I've as much of a regard for it as I have for, say, Doctor Who.

      And any recontextualising you care to add which nudges me off in that direction is fine. Mind you, I can't say I'm a great admirer of either TSC or TDOTD. But they still bear key traces of heavy Trekosity.

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    11. Psssst! I'm publicly pretending to have dropped this after #1! Oh well, hello world. I'm dropping it after #5. Obviously.

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    12. Hello Martin:- Sorry if cats were let escape from the bag there! I'm sure you found those issues abandoned at a railway station, left in a bus or thrown beside a golf course anyway ...

      ... and I am strangely looking forward to reading them :)

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  9. Back in my formative years, I read a lot of manga where impalement and amputation was par for the course. I'm thinking specifically of Bleach and Hellsing, although Bleach's is probably the more absurdly grotesque because even if a main character loses a limb, it's meaningless because a) it's framed with a blank background and an expression of mild shock (that is basically just their standard expression with white pupils) and b) nothing bad ever happens to the main characters so it becomes a geek show. Hellsing's is way more visceral and disturbing, but has a black sense of humour that makes it the right kind of horrific.

    So Geoff Johns's habit of having his characters lose an arm in fine "THESE AIN'T YOUR DADDY'S COMICS" tradition doesn't bother me. One can make bingo games out of it. This did shock me, though, but probably as a mirror version of how you felt. A ten-year old boy getting stabbed was horrific, but it wasn't just that: it was a character I'd been following for years and years and who I - there's no other way of saying this - loved. I loved the original Batman and Robin with Dick and Damian, I loved seeing the little bastard grow and evolve. This felt disheartening in a way that other SHOCK deaths in comics didn't achieve.

    Damian will probably come back in some form. The cover is an homage to Batman RIP, where Batman didn't die, and Morrison knows comic book characters never stay dead and buried for long (Final Crisis: "We'll all miss (J'onn). And pray for a resurrection."), but Morrison's leaving DC, and superheroes, for the time being, so I'm not sure what the endgame is. People love Damian and will want to see him return, but it'll be difficult to come up with a move that doesn't cheapen it. I'd have felt better if Morrison stayed on because Damian is his baby; this feels like him dropping the mic, so to speak, and Peter J. Tomasi aside, I don't know anyone who can follow that.

    Sorry if this comment is a bit jumbled, this is just my thoughts as they come.

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    1. Hello Hallowen Jack:- I didn't think your thoughts appeared jumbled. Given that I'm familiar with either of Hellsing or Bleach in anything other than brief glances, however, I fear I can't comment. But I do note your mention of a "black sense of humour", which would of course provide a context for such a scene to work. Sadly that's not the context of BMI8. If it had been, then Damian's death would have taken on an absurd air. Of course, it should be asked why the extreme events which led up to it didn't create an absurd context. But the atmosphere was so grim, and the character so endearing, that it came across as prurient.

      I certainly know how you feel about Damian. And I suppose that your response is a mark of success on Morrisons and Burnham's part, and why not? Just because I had my response doesn't mean that I expect anyone else should :) If you're upset by Damian's fate, then the job's been well done. I definetely felt fond of the character, though I wasn't convinced - as I guess is obvious - by his end. Kid Loki's death was shocking to me and it did make me ... somewhat melancholy. This didn't.

      My feeling is that Damian's death may well be one which can be swiftly reversed, and perhaps even convincingly. Lazarus Pits, clone brothers, test tube side-effects; there's a great deal to work with. But whether Morrison does have the lil'lad breathe again or not, somebody else will, as you so rightly say. That's a marketable property and it isn't going to lie fallow for long.

      Let's hope it's Peter Tomasi or Gail Simone who get to bring Damian back if Morrison doesn't do so.

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  10. It does feel a bit unnerving how much of a spectacle a 10 year old boy's death became. He's riddled with arrows, he's pleading for his mother, he's /helpless/ in the panel-climax above, and then Batman's holding his body in a way that's reserved for such spectacle-deaths. And DC's going to the major news outlets and advertising the death as the issue's selling point--as if you needed any more proof that they've adopted a "bread-and-circuses" mentality in attempting to satisfy its readers!--

    --maybe that last part was a bit much. My major sentiment still stands.

    You've pointed out that Damian is undeniably a 10 year old child in the panel above--he has "child's hands," a child's build, a child's expression... I don't think the Morrison/Burnham team ultimately drafted the panel-climax in such a way as to one-up Jason Todd's death or Elektra's death or... etc., but to emphasize that he's a /boy/. I'd like to think they're aware of the terrible implications behind a panel like that and chose to use it for some other, more significant end than the spectacle of it. I'd like to think they'll "redeem" themselves somehow, next issue.

    Unrelated aside: you wrote an article a while ago about The War That Time Forgot and it made me think: I wonder how major deaths like this one would be handled if they were a transient sort of "don't pay attention and you'll miss it" thing. A hero dies but we don't really realize it until long after it's happened--in 2013 that'd be extremely horrifying.

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    1. Hello Vik:- I did try not to speculate on Morrison and Burnham's motivation in the above post. It was the response of reviewers which interested me. I have chin-stroked about that in the above, but I hope I've never said that I knew the answer. Indeed, the problem with the panel is that it's hard to grasp what the point of the scene actually is, which means that it's the violence of it all which stands out. However, there are aspects of the sequence which make it seem as if Morrison and Burnham are commenting on previous comicbook deaths, or SHOCK moments, such as the Miller ninja-arrows, the homage to Bane breaking Batman's back and so on. What these mean is hard to say. Are they part of a commentary on comicbook deaths. Irony, satire, homage, self-indulgence? I don't know. What I am sure of is that if either Morrison and Burnham were out to out-gross the competition - and I don't think they were - then they'd produce something far more appalling. This scene does, as you say, focus on Damian's youth and suffering. To my mind, it's a cruel miscalculation, but not something deliberately more-gross-than-thou. In that, it's not the scene itself, but the context, or lack of it, which for me damns it.

      And I do have a strong suspicion too that it'll all be placed in context next issue. My objection to the possibility of the murder scene relying on other issues for its context remains the same, however.

      Finally, I agree with you that less, and a great deal less, could function as more in today's market of SHOCK!!! And given that most extreme developments in pop culture tend to provoke a counter-reaction, I suspect that it won't be too long in arriving. Indeed, the lack of blood and the excess of feeling in Kid Loki's terrible end surely shows that all that SHOCK does little good on its own, no matter how extreme it might be.

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    2. Colin, maybe this is a weird interpretation, but I actually read Damian's death as him being defiant to the end. Particularly, with the Bane homage, as Leviathan (I think that's the character's name? Or is that just the organization?) demands he "break," only for Damian to simply reply, "No." The entire sequence consists of Damian either ordering his mother ("Stop! Fighting! Father!") or berating her lackeys/his monstrous twin (referring to them as "Cowards"), and he never stops fighting back (I've likened it to Robert Shaw's death in Jaws). Even when he calls for his mother, Damian does so not in a pleading manner, but in a demanding one ("...Call him off at once..."), which has been a core part of his character.

      It didn't even occur to me until reading your essay that Damian might have been portrayed as helpless (though the eyes in that panel do support that reading). This may be because of the overall tone of the book, celebrating Damian and Robin in general (which makes "The Boy Wonder Returns" an apt title for the issue as well as an ironic one), and his stubbornness in the panels leading up to his death; or it could be I misinterpreted the whole thing.

      P.S.: I'm also scratching my head about those fans and critics who say this wasn't "gruesome enough." What measurement is there for such a thing? Is it in metric or US customary?

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    3. Ah, I didn't mean to attribute something to you that you didn't actually put forth (my Jason Todd/Elektra line)--I'm sorry. It was a reactionary paragraph to your mention of those reviewers who compared the death to other major comic book deaths.

      (It's weird, commenting here makes me a bit apprehensive. I start off with an off-the-cuff thought or reaction, and then I try to grow and refine it, and I still end up coming off as stilted. Stilted and impolite! I know I'm over-thinking things.)

      I totally agree with you: while the sequence will be placed in context next issue, it shouldn't have to be.

      And thank you for reminding me about the Bane homage! I remember feeling that the panel was significant but I think I just glossed over most of that page on subsequent rereads, focusing more on the arrow-piercing and pleading parts. I opened the comic to that page just now and even managed to miss it again.

      I don't know what to make of the entire page. There are 20 irregular panels with most balloons holding short single words. Are Morrison/Burnham hurrying us through it? Did they want us to go through that entire sequence quickly, so that we could be met with the impalement? Maybe that was the only "tasteful" way they could get to the climax, as a more protracted sequence would be even more unnerving.

      The pages seems to be drafted with... levity? The aforementioned Bane panel, the "Fall!" panel, the panel following "NNAOW!" and and the two panels featuring Ellie give me a sense that Damian might not actually die. I look at the child with his legs wrapped around his foe, punching him in the head, the child with his arms raised against someone twice as big as him, and the idea that the same child will die a page later seems ridiculous. Ellie contributes to that sentiment by looking absolutely gnomish in that first panel, like a cartoon. The sequence of panels where Damian spits into his foe's face set me towards thinking that Damian will ultimately meet his end--and then Ellie's expression--lip bit as if wincing, yet not looking away--reels me back in. And then the last group of panels on the page sets me right back towards thinking that Damian will die. I must be reading it wrong.

      I've read a lot of good things, here and elsewhere, about Kieron Gillen's Journey Into Mystery. I will read it.

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    4. Hello Andrew:- We might quibble about the interpretation, but having had my say in the above, and lots of replies too, it would seem to me to be bad grace to stamp my old feet and say "That is weird! You're wrong!" With my interpretation out there, I'm interested to see other folks see things.

      I will emphasise that my piece above focused on one particular shot. As such, I'm not considering in context beyond my interpretation of Damian's "Mother. Call your dog off" line just before he's skewered. (I don't have a copy with me as I type this, so forgive me for the paraphrasing.) And that one shot, which the scans above are of, is in itself - and in my opinion - one that I find deeply worrying. It doesn't seem to me to tell us anything that an off-panel event would, which means, with its 10 year subject ..... ah, but there I go again, when I said I wouldn't. Mea culpa.

      I'm not sure there is such a thing as misinterpretation when it comes to art. There may be different cases, and each has the responsibility, if its holders choose to, to try to make the best case. And I certainly see what you mean about Damian's defiance. I wouldn't disagree with that at all. It's just that I'm disturbed by the context, and lack of it, in the scene, and you're not. Bless you for expressing that difference, and doing so with such precision and friendliness.

      I'm not sure what the scale of gruesomosity is!! How much gruesomosity does it take to earn "iconic" status, and what are the grades below that? Is "awesome" and "cool" below "iconic"?

      As you imply, these are strange, strange ways of looking at the world :)

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    5. Sorry; that should be "Are "awesome" .... rather than "Is "awesome" ...

      I don't dare delete and repost for fear that other comments, such as yours, will be removed too. But that mistake did read BADLY. Pah and sigh ...

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    6. Hello Vik!:- I hope you see my reply here and don't think I've ignored you. Please don't worry about sounding stilted etc That's the nature of talking in comments, isn't it, and adapting and refining ideas as we go is one of the advantages of the form.

      I do agree with you about the experiment of the 20 panel page. I believe that the issue was produced Marvel-style - as was in the High Sixties - so it's even difficult - IF that's right - to know quite what the division of responsibility was here.

      But I agree that there is a strange mix of humour and horror there. I think the two things clash partially because of the fact that Damian is a child. A very young child. The scene relies upon us loving him, and yet at the same time, there's a sense that we're not to take things too seriously, as if we're being told that this is all just part of the super-book's cycle of death and rebirth. But that leaves confusion rather than a well-judged sense of ironic distance. When it comes to deaths of well-loved characters, and in particular those who are nippers, the irony - or whatever it's supposed to be - creates not questions so much as fatal contradictions. The issue falls apart if we don't care, and yet there are times I look at that sequence and think that we're also being told it's all a game. The very presence of such complications seems to me to suggest that this is a scene which hasn't been well-constructed.

      Or so I've struggled with it. I'm not claiming that's an objective reading.

      As for 'Kid' Loki's death in Journey Into Mystery - be careful, it really IS a gut-wrenching experience. I'd advise you to start at the beginning of Kieron Gillen's run on the series and stick with it. It really does work like a novel, and each step counts for something in the end. Good luck with it!

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  11. Thank you for addressing something that had been bothering me. On a forum elsewhere, I mentioned that I thought it was odd that no one was even questioning whether such a brutal on-panel murder of a young child in a mainstream superhero comic was going too far, even in a genre that now has titles solely devoted to killing off young characters. My comment was not warmly received.

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    1. Hello Lorrie:- Well, thank you for saying so :) This blog hasn't been, shall I say, too warmly received in certain quarters either. I've even heard of folks who've been kind enough to post a link to it on Facebook receiving less-than-pleasant responses. Which strikes me as a bit daft. But there does appear to be a group of fans who associate the very idea of questioning such scenes with ... well, a host of things, from emasculation to censorship. Odd times.

      Comments are, however, always warmly received here at TooBusyThinking. Well, apart from the aggressive, ill-reasoned ones, which get hit by the 'delete' button every time :)

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  12. Sergeant Hartman3 March 2013 at 02:51

    Here's what Sean T. Collins had to say about Damian's Death:

    "If we were to take a look at the coroner’s report, we’d no doubt find “franchise maintenance” listed under “Cause of Death.”

    "It’s tough to imagine “Batman as dad, Robin as his son” taking off in the public imagination to the extent it could be used as the backbone for a blockbuster film, or even an animated series. “Batdad,” as an image and as a set of ideas about that character, simply doesn’t square with his pop-culture profile as an avatar of terrifyingly badass hypercompetence and black-clad angst."

    He makes an excellent point about franchise maintenance. The majority of non-comic book readers aren't familiar with Damian and typically associate the role of Robin with either Dick Grayson or Tim Drake. Being the hardened cynic that I am, I can't help but feel that this is just another in a long line of shameless gimmicks that DC has been employing to counteract their declining sales, and it apparently worked considering that Batman Inc #8 is already on its second printing.

    With that being said, I hated Damian when he was first introduced, but over time the little punk grew on me and I was very saddened by his death. I know that Bruce is going to come under heavy criticism for having another dead Robin on his head, but honestly, he didn't really have a lot of good options when it came to Damian. He wasn't aware of his existence until the boy was ten years old, and by that time the League of Assassins had forged him into a terrifyingly efficient killing machine. If there's anything Bruce can take solace in its that under his guidance, Damian forsook his upbringing and saved a lot of lives during his tenure as Robin.

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    1. Hello Sergeant Hartman:- That's good stuff from Sean T Collins, isn't it? I wish I'd written that instead ...

      I do understand your concerns about the corporation's cynicism. Yet Damian has been a sales success and I doubt DC would kill such a character off. Even given that the general public associates Robin with Dick Grayson, that's not how the Nu52 chose to go. By which I mean, so much that the Nu52 does makes sense only in terms of a fusion of incompetence and self-interest. Yet getting rid of Damian would seem only to make sense in terms of the former. And any short term spike in BI's sales would surely be undermined by the long-term loses of having Damian taken off the board.

      I also can't see Grant Morrison going along with any editorial desire for SHOCK and COLUMN INCHES. This is, after all, a writer who many sources suggest hasn't had very much to do with the Nu52 at all, and even to the degree that he doesn't seem to have told the powers that be what he's up to. So in that sense, I think that this was a Morrison project, and that may be one of the problems. Because if Damian's death had existed seperate from the context of the Nu52, it might be read differently. But its hard for the reader to see BI and its SHOCK as existing in a different context to the Nu52. Perhaps it would all have read if Morrison wasn't working in the hacked-together DCU that he is.

      I too have been won over by Damian. If there's one thing I regret, it's less the character's death and more the way it was done. Just as I appreciate how Kieron Gillen had used the death of Kid Loki to talk about the fear of dying in a purposeless universe, I'd have appreciated it if Damian's death was about something more that, well, Damian's death.

      But who knows? The next issue may well see a grandstanding reverse. A Lazarus Pit that turns Damian into a super-villain, or returns him to a sense of innocence where neither Talia or Bruce's influence remains? Some kind of clone-to-clone mind transference, or another clone-Damian to promise future boyish super-heroics? After all, if Morrison doesn't do it, then there's the threat of some idiot making a hash of the project.

      And of course, it will happen. Only Uncle Ben stays dead forever.

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    2. Sergeant Hartman5 March 2013 at 02:26

      I agree that Morrison doesn't seem like the type of writer who would kill a character off just for the sake of a short-term sales boost. Turning Damian's death into a media frenzy was no doubt engineered by the higher ups at DC.

      By this time next year, it wouldn't surprise me if Damian makes his return in a special polybagged issue with multiple covers each with a different set of trading cards. :)

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    3. Hello Sergeant Hartman:- Absolutely. I just don't think that Morrison would do that. I don't think he needs to. I think he might play with the conventions of comic book deaths, or satirise the market's apparent desire for SHOCK, or the Nu52 obsession with spectacle ... but not death for a sales kick. Morrison just wouldn't do that, I really believe that.

      Damian may just return in the next issue of BI. If Morrison is playing with convention, then an immediate return would really screw with the strategy of the long-delayed, much-hyped return. I certainly suspect that a form of Damian who gets to grow up - for awhile, at least - free of either of his parent's influence is on the cards.

      But then, what do I know?

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  13. I compare this death to Chill of the Night from Brave and Bold toon.

    It is possible to tastefully cover extremely serious issues and even meaningful character death.

    kid batman's demise compares unfavourably with the cartoon passing of Bwana Beast.

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    1. Hello Flying Tiger:- Though I can't recall having seen the death of Bwana Beast in the B&b, I do entirely agree with your point. I have little patience with the grim'n'gritty school of comicbook death, although there are exceptions to the rule. But even as with the death of Lightning Lad back in the early 60s, a lighter touch can bring a far greater degree of pathos.

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  14. This is actually the edited version of the death, it was actually a bit more gruesome originally

    http://www.bleedingcool.com/2013/03/14/how-the-end-of-batman-inc-8-was-changed/

    As for the image itself, I'm no more repulsed by it's "pointlessness" than I am by Bullseye running through Elektra. Then again, I don't read any other Nu52 books, so I don't have that same perspective as you, just one more drop of blood in a violent ocean. As far as I'm concerned, Morrison's DCU is the only DCU I care about.

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    1. Hello Jeremy:- I do think there's a vital distinction between a scene showing the graphic disembowelment of a ten year old boy and that of a grown super-woman. I'd also suggest that both the context and depiction of Elektra's death was far less prurient. In fact, I can't help but think it's amazing that the slaughter of Robin was even more graphic than that Elektra's end. Yet as you say, it could've been far worse.

      I would have agreed with you about Morrison's Batman prior to this particular issue. I fear I'm finding it hard to retain my admiration for the run now.

      But, horses for courses etc etc. Just because I hold this opinion doesn't mean that I have the slightest problem with being very much in the minority here.

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    2. Hey, I get it, my man. Everybody has their own line for this comic book things. I still remember you were pretty upset about that one time with Batman holding Prosperous Rex over the side of his speeding motorcycle, when for me it was kinda business as usual for Batman, always striking fear in the hearts of criminals with his scary presentation and the threat of violence(and often times, actual violence).

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    3. Hello Jeremy:- Thank you for being a splendidly good egg about our taking different positions here. Yes, I do find the idea of torture as an everyday marker of heroism a pernicious business, and the idea of it being funny even more problematical. It is always something that characters such as Batman and Daredevil need to be used to discuss, of course. When there's some kind of debate about that on show, I'm all for it. When there isn't, it all comes too close to the "human rights serve the cause of evil" school of thought.

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