Grant Morrison killed Batman and Robin.
Batman came back, but it seems as though this Robin is dead for good. There have been a few different deaths of Batman's greatest ally, but none have been as meaningful to one single writer as this one has. For those not following along, comics superstar Grant Morrison created Damian Wayne, the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al'Ghul, who took to the role of Robin with arrogance and, in the end, humbly sacrificed himself as a hero.
By fans, he was hated at first, then loved, and now the tears over his death are many.
In honor of the passing of this most recent Robin, I was given the opportunity to talk to Grant Morrison about his landmark run with Batman and Robin.
Bryan Young: I've read that your original plan was to kill Damian after just four issues?
Grant Morrison: Yes, but it wouldn't have worked after four issues because not only did most of the fans hate him, he was too snotty, he was too arrogant, his death wouldn't have mattered a lot. But we've watched him develop for six years and it allowed us to really get into the character and see his willingness to change and I think when you watch someone's willingness to change it allows you to identify with them a little more and it made a little more sense to kill him off once we made everyone love him. The best time to kill someone is when the whole world is in love with them!
BY: Why did you feel now was the time to kill him?
GM: It's about resetting Batman's status quo. For a long time Batman's had a dead Robin in the cave and it's always been a glass case with a costume in there and it's the one Robin that Batman couldn't save and it used to be Jason, but he's come back to life but he's still got that case in the Batcave.
BY: What made you decide that this was the best route to take for Batman comics?
GM: Well it seemed natural to the genesis of Batman, you know, a way to get to the roots of these characters and to the engine that makes them work. Batman is all about the death of his parents. So I kind of thought that Bruce Wayne, for all that he loves his parents, there must be parts of him that hates his father for not being Batman that night and saving everyone and there must be parts of him that hates his mother for leaving him alone in this bizarre and peculiar life, so what I did was base my entire run on this idea of the bad father, the bad mother, and the bad son.
And the bad father was Dr Hurt. And in the story the bad mother is Talia and the bad son is Damian, and he becomes a good son in the end but it's too late and he dies because really what he represents is this whole twisted loss that's at the heart of the Batman myth. But yeah, it was all based on that original idea about Batman watching his parents die and how that must have affected him and how it affects all his relationships and all his battles with villains, it's all in there. So we just made it a bit more obvious by playing on, very specifically, is it a bad father, is it a bad mother? And here's a bad little kid who becomes good, which is Batman's story as well.
BY: It's ironic, too, that if Damian had taken his mother's training and been an assassin, he'd have killed that guy and would not be dead.
GM: Yeah, 'cause his mother wanted him to be a world conqueror, to be a tyrant, and the kid didn't want that, the kid wanted to be a superhero, and that's the tragedy, you know, the entire run is being based almost constantly on this sort of confrontation between parent and children. Even when Damian dies, and I don't know if people have noticed, but the sword that kills him belongs to the very first known ancestor of the Waynes, it was used in Batman: Shadow of the Bat, in the 90s, so what we went back to, there's a suit of armor in the case, and it's Bruce Wayne's earliest ancestor's. That's who kills the boy, and so there's a lot of you know, you see him smashed against the Wayne "W" and the foyer of the Wayne tower and so it's kind of very much about how these things play out over generations and how repetitive patterns play out of destructive patterns and it really never ends.
We want to make Batman driven by his vengeance again, and that drive to shoot him in to places where he does good for people, he helps people, he's a superhero and I think that can never be forgotten. Batman turns grief into something positive every time.
If you want to read the issue where Robin meets his fate, be sure to pick up issue eight of Batman Incorporated. And don't forget to read about the fallout of his death. The issues where the rest of the Bat family struggle with the loss of Damian have been, so far, heartbreaking in all the right ways.
After wrapping up his runs with Batman and Superman, Grant Morrison is next setting his sights on Wonder Woman for DC Comics. You can also check out previews of all the new Justice League Books from DC at Big Shiny Robot!
Bryan Young is an author and the editor in chief of the geek news and review site Big Shiny Robot!