BATMAN #655-658: Batman and Son (Grant Morrison: “I loved Angel Season 4!”)

Once upon a time there was a dark, avenging creature of the night who banged one of his erstwhile lady-foes in a (few?) moment(s?) of implausibly poor judgment. In a startlingly predictable turn of absolutely no dramatic significance, lady-foe-turned-S.O. has a baby. Since babies generally have a damping effect on tales of derring-do and, incidentally, demand a measure of responsibility and maturity utterly beyond the medium’s target audience, the youngster is hastily squirreled away in the writers’ undoubtedly overflowing and smelly communal footlocker labeled “shit to pull out later when we run out of cool ideas.” Somehow our hero, ostensibly a talented detective, seems to have no fucking clue that any of this is happening.

Well, eventually (some twenty years later in real-world time, about half that in DC Universe time) the youngster comes of age and turns up in our dark avenger’s stronghold, trendy medieval weapons in hand, and begins to fulfill his inevitable destiny of Being an Unbearable Teenage Nuisance, Lacking Character Depth, Attempting to Murder Our Hero’s Sidekicks, and just generally Fucking Our Hero’s Shit Up.

Cover of "Batman and Son"Somewhere amidst Hero Jr.’s insufferable douche-baggery and his attempts to spill everybody’s jugulars, I had to stop reading and just consider the facts that a) I had already watched the fourth season of Angel, and b) it sucked balls the first time. Sadly, this was not Angel. It was Batman and Son, a four-comic storyline by Grant Morrison appearing in BATMAN #655-658. After nearly twenty years of waiting for the other Bat-boot to drop, Batfans have finally started to suffer Batman’s (ahem) conception of an appallingly trite and totally unlikeable character.

Bewilderingly large supporting casts? Absurdly convoluted and complicated plots? A disturbingly detailed familiarity with the Joker’s most private thoughts? All these are things I’ve come to expect from Grant Morrison. But an astonishingly annoying genre trope? The only shocking thing about Batman and Son is that such an utterly cliched storyline would come from one of DC’s most acclaimed writers of recent years, a writer who is typically (for better or worse) pushing the boundaries of what’s believable and, sometimes, what’s even comprehensible in a comic book.

Further, has Grant Morrison ever, you know, read any Batman comics? Bruce Wayne already has sons. Three of them, in fact. Their names are Dick Grayson, Jason Todd* and Tim Drake.  Bruce has legally adopted all three of them. Along with Alfred, they are the three people he cares for most. He positively LOSES his SHIT every single time one of them may or may not be seriously injured or dead. Did we really need yet another ascendant Boy Wonder, this time bearing all the burdens and complications of heredity?

My initial response, obviously, is an emphatic no. Six years on, Damian Wayne still offers nothing significant to the ongoing Bat-stories, he’s still a spoiled little shit, and he still thinks it’s cool to kill people even though the goddamn Batman has repeatedly told him “Don’t fucking do that.” Maybe some new blood in the DC writing staff will come along someday and make a name for themselves by molding Damian into a 3-dimensional, likeable character; it’s happened before with characters less prominent in the Batman mythology (see: Mister Freeze in the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Heart of Ice”). Until then, I’ll do my damnedest to completely ignore his existence.

And on that note, our next post will discuss comic books as a unique medium in which each and every fan can have complete control over his or her own canon, allowing us to jettison garbage like little Damian without a shred of remorse.

*Yes, Jason Todd was dead for a while, but now he’s not. Deal with it, and please address all complaints to one “Superboy-Prime,” who apparently spun the world backwards or altered history or some such fucking nonsense and somehow incidentally resurrected him right out of his grave.

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